Beat ’em up fans are like junkies littering the squalid streets of ’80s New York, ready to shoot themselves in just about anything that recalls the tape-rolling boom that swept the slot machines in the early ’90s.
Whether you’re a pink-mohawked punk or a down-to-earth gamer, if you’re still cracking up despite the genre’s recent resurgence with Streets of Rage 4 and River City Girls, Final Vendetta promises to make things right for you.
Featuring three characters with different skills and abilities, Bitmap Bureau’s latest game is a love letter to the games it references so strongly. One or two players can fight in tandem through grimy subways, littered streets, and a mob of tribal gang villains emerging from oily-sticky brickwork and mud-crusted enclaves.
Showcasing design motifs that refuse to go away, Final Vendetta’s aesthetic is firmly tied to the days when Schwarzenegger still ran the local movie theater and Reaganomics fueled America’s massive unemployment: a great backdrop for showing vigilance through a string of dilapidated public spaces. The only difference here is that these crime-ridden urban strongholds are not located in New York, but in London. Since the Bitmap Bureau is from the UK, we expect to see backgrounds that include random fried chicken shops, homeless people squatting at ATMs, and at least one sign telling you that the bus replacement service is running due to a signal failure on the line. Circle line.
In keeping with modern 2D games, we can confirm that the game has a built-in CRT filter to ensure that its swanky pixelated graphics can be scaled up by scanlines if needed. In addition, Final Vendetta features a cooldown combo meter, several special attacks for each character, and a wide enough range of moves to offer a wide variety of combat combos; our personal favorite is to kick the hell out of downed opponents while they lie sprawled at your feet.
And, if you’re hungry, chicken in trash cans, pizza laid out on concrete, and foods locked in oil drums are all present and right. A nice Anglo-centric bonus is the smashing of the traditional red English telephone boxes to smithereens – no doubt a catharsis for those who once had their pounds sterling eaten by British Telecom’s regularly malfunctioning machines.
The sonic benchmark set by hard techno Streets of Rage is also paid homage, with Final Vendetta, rumbling house sports themes, and a bit of drum and bass – a criminally underrated but wholly fitting choice for a game that has a thundering fist pace. Also, if you’re after something a little more old-school, the soundtrack (watch a preview in the video below) features brand new tracks from none other than the Utah Saints, a prominent element of the UK’s ’90s dance scene.
With three difficulty settings, a bunch of unlockable secrets, and game modes including Arcade, Survival, Boss Rush, and Versus options, the pack feels well-equipped to satiate people who yearn for Capcom’s serene days and still live and breathe Mega Drive like it was 1992 (mostly us).
Better known for the Smash TV-inspired series Xeno Crisis, the developers Bitmap Bureau are well versed in their 2D games. Hopefully they can deliver amazing merchandise when Final Vendetta launches on Nintendo Switch in mid-June and do justice to the genre we’re all looking forward to.