Final Vendetta wants so hard to replicate the magic of the side-scrolling beat ’em ups of the 90s.
It has pixelated visuals, a banging soundtrack with exclusive tracks by Utah Saints, and a forgettable story that necessitates three tough cookies to walk the streets, pounding any goons that get in their way. But where it matters, in the gameplay department, it falls short. Titles such as Streets of Rage 4, Mayhem Brawler and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge have taken the old template it, and made it work in the modern age. Final Vendetta does nothing.
That is to say that its gameplay is woefully basic. As ever, you move from left to right, clearing screens of criminals on your way to save the younger sister of one of the three playable protagonists. But in terms of combat there’s little on offer here beyond the bare essentials. The standard attack button can be pressed to perform a combo, which you’ll get rather tired of performing pretty quickly. Both jumps and dashes can be combined with attacks, too, and you can grab and throw opponents, perform back attacks and pick up and make use of weapons.
Beyond that, there’s a super meter that allows you to make use of a single super attack that downs the enemies around you, and a special attack button that allows you to hit enemies when they’re down on the floor. Oh, and there’s a block button. In the 90s this repertoire might have been sufficient, but now it feels too limited. It would have nice to have a charge attack at least, and perhaps another super attack or two. But even then, Final Vendetta would still be in the shadow of its peers.
It just doesn’t feel all that fun to play mechanically. Hits don’t feel impactful, and it doesn’t have the measured pacing of other heavy hitters in the genre. There’s also the fact that it feels cheap at times. The block button, for example, is pretty useless as it’s hard to gauge just which attacks it will negate. It rarely stops a full enemy combo, anyway, and you can’t drop your guard mid-combo to counterattack as there’s just no time. Picking up weapons is mostly pointless, too, as they take too long to swing.
Combined with overly aggressive AI that can stun-lock you at times, it frequently feels like a pain to play Final Vendetta. And don’t go thinking you can just put the game on easy difficulty to get around these issues; there’s hardly any difference between the easy and hard difficulty settings, which are both available from the outset. And stupidly, while there’s a training mode, you need to beat the default arcade mode first before you can access it. Survival and boss rush modes are locked, too, but that’s fairly understandable.
Related: 7 Games Like Streets of Rage on PS4
Thankfully, co-op play is an option, but Final Vendetta only supports two-player couch co-op. You can even play against each other if you have a score to settle thanks to an additional co-op exclusive versus mode. Playing in co-op is more enjoyable, for sure, but you can say that about most things in life. Experiences are generally always better when shared, but it doesn’t mean the underlying activity is necessarily any better.
Final Vendetta isn’t a bad game, but in trying to ape the classics it loses sight of the true goal post: the games that currently rule the roost. Even then, we’d still rather play the original Final Fight or Streets of Rage than this middling effort that just simply doesn’t feel as welcoming or enjoyable. Ultimately, if you’re a huge fan of the genre and have a great deal of patience you might get some fun out if it, but it’s never going to be remembered as a classic.