The side-scrolling beat ’em up genre is back, and we couldn’t be happier.
Growing up with games such as Final Fight, Streets of Rage and Golden Axe, we were gutted when the side-scrolling beat ’em up genre just seemed to disappear. But over the years, developers have realised that our desire to go straight and pummel bad guys is still strong, and so here we are with an onslaught of quality beat ’em ups to occupy our time. One of which is Fight’N Rage.
Originally released way back in 2017 on PC, Fight’N Rage has made its way to a variety of consoles since. And this month it’s expanded its horizons yet again, launching on PS5 and Xbox Series consoles. Does it make use of the extra power and features of these machines? Not particularly. You won’t find any of the DualSense controller’s advanced features being used, for example. And the retro-styled graphics didn’t exactly need any more grunt to power them. But hey, if you’ve never played Fight’N Rage before and own one of these consoles, you can’t beat a native version.
We’ve been playing the PS5 version of Fight’N Rage, and have been reminded of just how much fun it is. Three characters are available: the hulking Ricardo, a minotaur human-rights activist who’s slow on his feet but packs a mean punch; the nimble Gal, whose own brand of martial arts helped her escape from the clutches of those willing to trade her; and the mysterious F. Norris, a ninja who’s fragile but excels when it comes to technique. Each one of these has a reason to fight, and you’ll unravel their story as you make your way through a multitude of stages.
We say multitude of stages, because unlike most games in the genre, Fight’N Rage has branching paths. Making your way through a dark forest, for example, you might see an inviting opening in the trees: enter it, and it might lead to a different stage than if you’d simply pushed on ahead. And so, a playthrough of Fight’N Rage might see you play through eight stages. But it could also see you play through 10. It all depends on the choices you make. Though there’s one thing for sure: you’re going to have a tough time.
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It’s safe to say that Fight’N Rage is uncompromising. Enemies attack in large numbers at times. And some enemies are simply powerful. If you don’t learn to effectively manage a crowd with your standard and special attacks, you’re going to be in trouble. And there’s another element of Fight’N Rage you need to master too: the parry. To defeat some enemies and bosses effectively, parrying their attacks to create an opening is crucial.
The rewards for playing Fight’N Rage are numerous, though, even if you don’t quite master it. You’ll earn coins whether you fail at completing the game or not, and these can be used to unlock a wide variety of extras. There are new modes, for example, such as Training where you can brush up your skills. More difficulty levels can be unlocked, making the game easier or even harder as you see fit. And as well as a wealth of additional characters being available, multiple outfits are available for each of the three primary characters. Needless to say, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into.
What’s perhaps most impressive about Fight’N Rage is that it’s the work of just two people. Sebastián Garcia is responsible for its graphics, design and programming, while Gonzalo Varela has composed over 40 tracks for it. It’s quite the achievement, with both working hard to make a product that impresses on most fronts. The gameplay is fluid and rewarding, allowing players to wrack up lengthy combos and feel like a badass while doing so. Meanwhile, the soundtrack, which encompasses a range of genres, backs up the action and powers you on.
If you’re a fan of the side-scrolling beat ’em up genre and haven’t yet played Fight’N Rage, we implore you to check it out. The phenomenal Streets of Rage 4 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge may have soaked up the limelight as of late, but this has the right to stand alongside them. In any case, it’s a good time to be a side-scrolling beat’em up fan right now, and long may it continue.
Fight’N Rage is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.