Beat'em Up Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Beat'em Up RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge Review – A New Blast From the Past Wed, 15 Jun 2022 11:04:58 -0400 Jason D'Aprile

The classic arcade brawler hasn’t really aged well in this new millenium. These once ubiquitous games where one to six players picked their fighter and took to the streets to pound the living hell out of mostly faceless bad guys were huge in their day.

FInal Fight, Double Dragon, Bad Dudes, Ninja Warriors, X-Men and countless more ate our quarters like candy. Yet, for so many arcade dwellers of the late 80s and early 90s, Konami’s 1989 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles still holds a special place in our blipping, pixelated hearts.

The bright, garish colors and cartoon-style graphics mesh perfectly with its zany characters and over-the-top action to create one of the best examples of four-player arcade action ever. Of course, nostalgia is a tricky thing and so many revamps, modern sequels, and reboots of those 80s games tend to fall flat in this strange modern timeline.

When Dotemu announced they were making a direct sequel to the original TMNT arcade game, we (as in, some of us older gamer types) got excited anyway.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge Review – A New Blast from the Past 

There were a lot of reasons to trust Dotemu with our childhood memories. The publisher has a strong history of porting retro PC, console, and arcade games to modern platforms. Working with developer Tribute Games, this dynamic duo already proved they could handle the great weight of childhood expectations with their superb Streets of Rage 4 (seriously, it’s a fantastic classically-themed brawler. Go and get it). 

TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge works so perfectly because it’s clear the developers not only love the source material, but understand intrinsically how to recreate that beloved sense of nostalgia in a way that feels both authentic and evolved. This really does come across as a game that could have actually existed in a 1990-era arcade.

Presentation-wise, TMNT is retro joy. The 2D pixelated graphics are pitch perfect to the past, while still looking great. The 16 levels take players all over Manhattan (along with in, under, above, and beyond) and mesh perfectly with the old cartoon. The characters are animated well enough to sport excellent personality and expressions. Controls are simple enough for anyone to just start bashing away, yet the more you play, the more depth you’ll find.

The soundtrack deserves special mention as well. While all the voice work and sound effects are spot on, the 80s-rock score, complete with custom vocal tracks for various levels, is almost enough to make you spontaneously grow big hair and starch your collars. In short, Shredder’s Revenge is a heaping pile of retro love.

TMNT initially lets you choose from six characters: the four turtles, Splinter the rat, and April O’Neil. Beating the game unlocks sports-equipment lover, Casey Jones. The turtles use their signature weapons, Splinter his staff, and April comes equipped with heavy-duty reporter gear (like a mic and camera for bashing heads). Each character has their own unique feel and slightly different basic stats, though are overall equally powered.

Controls are kept simple. Using four buttons, our heroes jump, dodge, basic attack, and super attack. Super attacks are powered by a combo energy bar and help clear packs of enemies, but the bar is reset if you’re hit. The basic attack button mixes things up based on directional and other movement inputs. So, there are an impressive number of potential moves and combos. Aerial bashes, slide attacks, rear strikes, and a variety of throws and fancy weapon play keep the action flowing and entertaining.

The game features a story and arcade mode, which basically use the same levels and plot. The arcade mode is focused entirely on old-school restraints. Limited lives, no ability to switch characters, and no saves make it as close to a classic coin-op experience as you’ll get. The story mode branches things out thanks to an overall world map, hidden secrets to find, minor item collection quests, and a modicum of character progression.

In story mode, your fighter will go up in level, earning more hit points and new moves. Progression is saved and this mode has a more cohesive and lasting appeal compared to the arcade mode. Neither mode is particularly lengthy or full of replay depth, but that was never the goal for this kind of thing. Both modes support drop-in multiplayer for up to six players, although specifics vary depending on platform.

For the PC, Switch, and Xbox versions, local play supports up to six, while PlayStation can handle four players on one console. All versions can handle six players online or some combination of local and online play (although here, the PS4/5 will only allow up to four). The game automatically scales the number of enemies with the number of players to keep the action constant. 

TMNT sports three difficulty levels in both game modes as well, so those that want a challenge on par with the original can go harder while casual players can pick easy. We would have liked the walking maps to not be completely scroll locked, as there were times we wanted to backtrack and explore more. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge Review – The Bottom Line


  • Up to six players can battle the forces of Shredder across a crazy array of landscapes.
  • Controls are simply designed, responsive, and offer surprising depth.
  • For fans of TMNT and classic 80s action, this sequel is nostalgic gold.


  • We wish we could move around the large maps more freely to explore more.
  • Like most arcade-style games, even with the secrets and extras, there’s a limited amount of play here.

If you have a soft spot for classic arcade brawlers of the 80s and 90s, Shredder’s Revenge is a damn near perfect homage and sequel to one of the best of the era. It doesn't get much better than this. 

[Note: Dotemu provided the copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge used for this review.]

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge Gets Release Date, Casey Jones as Playable Character Fri, 10 Jun 2022 11:04:21 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Dotemu's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge will release on June 16 for PC, PS4, Xbox One, Game Pass, and Nintendo Switch. The surprise news comes as part of the ongoing Summer Games Fest 2022. Previously, Shredder's Revenge was simply scheduled for a Summer 2022 launch. The game will retail for $24.99, but those who pre-order it will receive a 10% discount. 

A release wasn't all that was revealed during Summer Games Fest. Casey Jones will be a playable character in Shredder's Revenge, rounding the roster out to seven and fighting the Foot Clan alongside the eponymous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, April O' Neil, and Master Splinter. The trailer showing Casey in action, fully clad in hockey mask and wielding his iconic hockey stick, can be seen at the top of this article. 

Finally, Dotemu confirmed that Shredder's Revenge will feature up to 6-player co-op multiplayer, both online and local. The developer says that "enemy groups scale in size based on the number of players kicking shell, making 6-player multiplayer a totally intense showdown against Shredder’s minions."

At the time of this writing (June 10, 2022), the pre-order discount is only available for Nintendo Switch and the Microsoft Store. It will be available on Steam and PSN "in the coming days," according to a press release. 

We previewed Shredder's Revenge in May and came away excited for the retro, Turtles-in-Time-inspired throwback.

Sifu Review: An Unforgiving Journey of Revenge Mon, 07 Feb 2022 14:28:36 -0500 Thomas Wilde

Going into it, all I knew about Sifu was that it was on a lot of people's most-anticipated lists for 2022, and the title suggested that it would have a martial-arts focus.

I wasn't wrong. Sifu is about as close as a video game has ever come to being an interactive kung fu movie, from the music to the fight choreography to the general atmosphere. It feels like the natural next stage in the evolution of the arcade-style beat-'em-up, with a little added magical realism for spice and just enough plot to keep things moving forward.

It's also got one of the steepest difficulty curves I've encountered in years. Sifu isn't a typical "Soulslike," but that's where your head ought to be at when playing it. It'll kill you repeatedly, mercilessly, and with a song in its heart.

Sifu Review: An Unforgiving Journey of Revenge

Set in a vaguely modern, vaguely Hong Kong-esque city, Sifu starts when Yang and his four idiosyncratic followers storm into a martial-arts school and massacre everyone inside. This includes the schoolmaster's child, a nameless 12-year-old whose sex is determined by the player. They only survive due to the effects of a mysterious talisman.

Eight years later, that child has been obsessively training to get their revenge. Yang and his crew have gone on to pursue their own endeavors throughout the city, and it's your mission to go smack the taste out of every mouth that stands between them and you.

That makes it sound easier than it is. Sifu is like a Jackie Chan movie if Chan's character didn't have his trademark superhuman resilience. In Sifu, every stray hit has a measurable impact, and it's very easy to die, especially when you're outnumbered. Even the most basic of thugs can and will beat the hell out of you, especially if they score a knockdown.

Every time you run out of health, your talisman can resurrect you, but it only has a set number of uses. More importantly, every death ages your character. The older you get, progressing from a young punk to an elderly master, the shorter your health bar becomes and the more damage you do. If you get anywhere near age 80, though, or if you burn all the lives on your talisman, your current run is over.

It's an interesting push-pull, but it doesn't work very well. Getting hit in Sifu does so much damage by default that there's no particular benefit to playing as a young character, except that it gives you a slightly better cushion for mistakes.

It feels like a punishment for not getting hit, especially once you start running into tougher standard enemies. The system would make a lot more sense if your character was faster or had a lot more health when younger, which would enable you to treat Sifu like a more typically forgiving beat-'em-up.

Then, as you moved into more challenging content, you'd gradually evolve your character into a textbook old master/glass cannon archetype who's got the firepower on deck to handle tougher enemies.

You can find a handful of shrines throughout each level that can boost your stats, provide bonuses, or reset your death counter. You also earn experience with each KO, which can be spent to unlock new moves and skills, with the option to permanently unlock them for every subsequent run if you can afford to purchase them multiple times at once.

None of that actually makes Sifu easier, though. It's a game that demands and expects perfection, and it offers next to nothing in the way of cheap victories. 

One Quarter, No Brakes

If Sifu reminds me of any other kind of game, it's the experience of trying to clear a classic arcade quarter-muncher like Final Fight or Turtles in Time on a single credit. It places the same emphasis on knowing each map, mastering your abilities, and getting through each fight with frame-perfect reactions.

There, it was dodging all the cheap ambushes and unfair boss attacks; here, it's knowing enemies' patterns, being able to dodge or parry them on reaction, and figuring out how to most efficiently clear out specific crowds.

That does make your first trip through any stage in Sifu frustrating, as you don't know the score yet. Bosses have unpredictable patterns, groups of enemies love to surround you, and every stray corner of a map could hide a new combat encounter, sometimes with a surprise miniboss.

You can get a few easy knockouts here and there with a stealthy approach – you regain a little health whenever you finish an enemy off, so finding an unaware lone thug is Sifu's equivalent of a hidden medkit – but those are few and far between.

On the other hand, Sifu never really changes its approach, so you can memorize each map and use that knowledge to your advantage. Once you've got a good idea of what's happening next in any given stage, it's just a question of honing your approach. Sifu is a game about putting in the work.

That being said, I'm not sure Sifu is as mechanically tight as it needs to be. It's got a lot of moves, such as parries and special attacks, that don't come out as reliably as they have to, which is devastating in a game where your survival can hinge on frame-perfect reactions.

This is the type of criticism that I least like to make, because I'm not sure if it's my relative inexperience talking or if it's an actual flaw. It's possible I'm just doing it wrong, but after a lot of practice, I feel fairly comfortable saying that Sifu's controls aren't as precise as the gameplay needs them to be.

To some extent, I think it's because a lot of Sifu's advanced motions are directional inputs like a fighting game, rather than more traditional button combinations. You can learn to work with it, but it makes the process of learning Sifu's ropes harder than it has to be. It's very much a game that expects you to run before you can walk.

The Rest of the Package

You really get the feeling from playing Sifu that it, like its protagonist's life, is focused to a specific point. The graphics and music are both simple but effective, with occasional highlights, while the environments have a nice amount of lived-in clutter but are generally linear, albeit with the occasional unlockable shortcut.

Even a fight that you're losing is fluidly animated. The tutorial in particular is well-executed; you play as Yang on his attack on the school, and he comes equipped with a full assortment of the combat skills you'll have to gradually unlock throughout the rest of the game.

Sifu, in general, like the arcade games I've been comparing it to, is something that's built to do one thing. It's challenging, occasionally brutal, and has that one-more-time addictiveness baked in where you always know you could probably do something a little better if you tried the last level again.

That kind of climb isn't generally my sort of thing, though. It feels like a strong, natural evolution from something like Streets of Rage, mixing strong visuals with a demanding but satisfying combat system. But the difficulty curve's too steep for me to really enjoy it.

I'd have more fun if perfection was a bonus, not a requirement. If you're hoping to pick this up in anticipation of it being the martial-arts brawler of your dreams, you should know that it takes a long time before you're good enough at it to get to that point.

Sifu Review — The Bottom Line


  • Controls smoothly.
  • The graphics are simple but evocative; they'll age perfectly.
  • Usually tough but fair.
  • One of the coolest tutorial levels in years.


  • No casual play allowed.
  • Some of the Street Fighter-style move inputs don't work reliably.
  • Some important mechanics aren't explained well.
  • The aging system isn't well-balanced.

Take my opinion on this with an extra grain of salt. I can see its appeal, as well as the work, talent, and skill that went into the game's production, but I'm rarely in the mood for this masochistic of an experience.

To my mind, this has "cult classic" written all over it, and players who take the time to master Sifu will make it sing in a way that I can't imagine. It's a big step forward for brawlers in general, which doesn't just ape the '90s beat-'em-up the way that a Mayhem Brawler or Fight'N' Rage does, but actually adds onto it. Sifu has a lot going for it, but its questionably fair difficulty curve and the relative looseness of its controls both make it hard for me to recommend to a general audience.

[Note: Sloclap provided the copy of Sifu used for this review.]

April O' Neil Joins the Turtles in Shredder's Revenge to Kick Some Major League Butt Thu, 26 Aug 2021 12:33:47 -0400 Jonathan Moore

April O' Neil is one of the most iconic characters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so it's only fitting that the fearless reporter joins the heroes in a half-shell in the upcoming TMNT: Shredder's Revenge

Her inclusion was revealed by developer DotEmu by way of a new gameplay trailer for the beat em' up scheduled to release sometime in 2022 for PC and Nintendo Switch. Her inclusion is a welcome one considering the roster for TMNT games has been static for so long.

April uses a microphone and other TV broadcast gear to take down the Footclan alongside the Turtles, and she has what looks to be a fair few special attacks. She can also revive the Turtles by giving them pizza. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge looks a lot like Turtles in Time, perhaps the very best TMNT beat em' ever made (and what some would argue as the best beat em' up of all time, ahem). But no matter where you stand on the spectrum in that regard, Shredder's Revenge does look good, something reinforced by the great job DotEmu did on Streets of Rage 4.

Shredder's Revenge doesn't yet have a firm release date outside of the broad 2022 window, so let's hope there's more news on the immediate horizon. Stay tuned.

Mayhem Brawler Review: The Streets are Only Sort of Annoyed Thu, 19 Aug 2021 10:35:12 -0400 Thomas Wilde

The first time you see Hero Concept's Mayhem Brawler, you might think it's a fan game for Streets of Rage 4. Frankly, that's not an unfair assumption. There's a lot about its presentation and gameplay that makes it come off like it wouldn't exist if SoR4 hadn't done so well. 

That's fine, really. There's always been a small but consistent thread of '90s nostalgia running through indie game development — The Takeover, Fight'N Rage, River City Girls, etc. — and Streets of Rage 4 was always going to hit that scene like a bomb. Mayhem Brawler has, at the very least, chosen its role models correctly.

Mayhem Brawler Review: The Streets are Only Sort of Annoyed

That does make it a hard sell, though. While Mayhem Brawler isn't a one-to-one match to SoR4, it's nowhere near as polished. It's bogged down by a number of petty annoyances, and it's not up to SoR4's high standards, even if I had more fun than I expected running through it with a couple of buddies.

Mayhem Brawler is worth a look if you've played a bunch of other beat'em ups lately and you need just one more to fill that punchy niche in your heart, but there are a lot of other games I'd recommend before cracking into this one. 

In Mayhem City, magic, monsters, and superhumans are all an accepted part of everyday life. When there's a problem, it's handled by Stronghold, a team of empowered police officers that seem to keep the peace through the use of incredible violence.

Its members are Trouble, a bearded dope with claws and a history of excessive force; Dolphin, who is what happens when a pro wrestler and a shark love each other very much; and the social-media-savvy and telekinetic Star.

A disturbance at the docks results in Trouble, Dolphin, and Star busting a smuggling operation, which then leads them to a plot where an unknown force has stolen a deceased superhuman's body with plans to turn her powers into a bomb.

It's an urban fantasy/superhero mashup told through the lens of American comics, with between-level cutscenes shown as hand-drawn, interactive still panels. The conceit is that you're playing through several issues of a comic called Mayhem, with plot branches presented as a choice between two upcoming pieces of cover art.

The gimmick is cool for an arcade game, and the levels are short enough that it gives Mayhem Brawler a fair amount of replay value as you explore all of its stages. The art design also goes out of its way to give every character and environment a lot of individual personality.

It doesn't quite all work, and part of it is just down to international confusion, I think. Mayhem Brawler is clearly supposed to be set somewhere in the United States, but Hero Concept is headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey, and clearly did not have an American do a localization pass on the script.

Some of the jokes are surprisingly funny, like Star's angry Twitter followers (she's trying so hard to be a good role model but her fans are not having it), but others end up as total non-sequitur or don't make any sense at all.

Like that. I have no idea what that's supposed to mean.


The rest of the problems are due to a truly peculiar storytelling choice. All three of the playable characters are experienced super-cops, who constantly refer to past events, old enemies, and supernatural politics like they know the audience has the Lonely Planet guide to Mayhem City open in their lap. You can generally put things together from context, but much of the story ends up feeling like you started a trilogy with its second book.

It plays out like what the American comics community sometimes calls "continuity porn," where it's pitched towards long-time readers and impenetrable to anyone else. And while that's a fairly good way to convey how it felt to read superhero comics in the '90s, it's just strange in a standalone video game.

You Have the Right to Remain Extremely Punchable

The actual gameplay of Mayhem Brawler should be instantly familiar if you've played any '90s, or '90s-styled, beat'em up. You've got a standard attack that leads into a combo string, a rushing attack, and a slap that grabs onto an enemy by moving into them.

Like Streets of Rage 4, every character has a special attack, which gives you a healthy number of invincibility frames on activation. But unlike the aforementioned title, this is governed by a meter under your health bar. That meter refills rapidly if you take damage, and can also be regenerated with pickups like coffee.

The special attack can be used to break enemy grabs and combo strings, and also serves as a weird sort of a comeback mechanic. If you're getting your head handed to you, you probably also have a full special attack meter, which gives you a little extra breathing room right when you need it most.

Slightly irritating is that as you move into the mid-game, every other enemy seems to have a grab and/or "vortex" combo string. On your first run through Mayhem Brawler, you'll get grabbed much more often than you've got meter to break it with, which gives the game the same deliberately unfair feeling as old arcade games.

You can also block, but I haven't found it particularly useful in a casual run. The attacks you'd most want to use it against don't seem to be blockable, and the rest of the time you'd be better off doing the old arcade beat-'em-up dodge and weave. 

The enemies do have a lot of personality, which is a highlight. Hero Concept's gone out of its way to vary up its formula, so instead of being rushed by six clones of one guy, or palette swaps with different names, many of the rank-and-file enemies have distinct differences in their design. 

You'll meet and beat up all sorts of lycanthropes, vampires, Blade-wannabe "half-bloods," spirits, genies, hired gunmen, and small-time wizards in streetwear. Among other things.

Armed enemies only drop their weapons once they're knocked out, but in exchange, the weapons in Mayhem Brawler are surprisingly powerful.

A baseball bat or crowbar only lasts for three or four hits, but that's enough to take out a standard enemy or shave a nice block of health off a boss. Guns are weaker per hit but inflict a status effect that causes a target to take bonus damage for a few seconds afterward.

I do like how Mayhem Brawler handles that kind of thing. Both players and enemies get icons over their heads when their statuses change, so you can tell at a glance if, for example, an attack is uninterruptible, or if an enemy has an invincible wake-up option. It's one thing I'd definitely appreciate being added to other beat'em ups, since it takes a lot of guesswork out of figuring out a strategy. 

The stages are inconsistent, though, which gives Mayhem Brawler an uneven difficulty curve. The genies in particular are dramatically overtuned, with a body splash that seems to hit half the screen at once for an easy 25% damage.

It's also irritating that you're constantly dodging bullets, and that guns are consistently much less powerful in your hands than in an enemy's. 

When I tried Mayhem Brawler on my own, I wasn't impressed due to all these petty annoyances. When I played with a few friends, though, I was surprised by how much the experience improved. While a few stages are still meat grinders, it's clear that the whole game was designed with co-op in mind, and solo play was an afterthought at best.

Mayhem Brawler Review — The Bottom Line


  • A fun, mostly functional arcade brawler
  • 3-player co-op
  • 3 unique characters with their own arsenals of moves
  • Better-written than you might expect
  • An entertaining and short multiplayer game


  • Not much fun solo
  • Strange balance issues
  • A few janky animations
  • Some of the jokes absolutely do not land

Mayhem Brawler isn't bad. It's a perfectly serviceable spin on the arcade beat-'em-up, set in a strangely built but interesting world. It's even genuinely funny at times, although the script could use some punching up. If you want a cheap indie for your next couch co-op session, you could do a lot worse.

Hero Concept's made a good setting and a passable game. A theoretical Mayhem Brawler 2, with less irritating combat, could be killer.

Its biggest problem is, simply, that Streets of Rage 4 exists. The only people to whom I could genuinely recommend Mayhem Brawler are those who've already beaten SoR4 to death and want to move on to something else. I'm not going to serve you a hamburger when you ordered steak, and I'm not going to recommend Mayhem Brawler over SoR4.

[Note: Hero Concept provided the copy of Mayhem Brawler used for this review.]

Akiba's Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed Review — A Shadow of Its Former Self Tue, 20 Jul 2021 09:00:01 -0400 George Yang

The Akiba’s Trip series is such a unique one. When Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed came westward in 2014, I had no idea what to expect. It turned out to be a very shameless beat 'em game with stripping mechanics. More specifically, the main character explores the city of Akihabara and strips the clothes off of supernatural human enemies called Synthesizers, who are vulnerable to sunlight.

Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed essentially uses the same concept but with a different group of enemies. Debriefed is a remaster of the first game in the series that originally launched on the PlayStation Portable back in 2011, though it never made it outside of Japan.

Akiba's Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed Review — A Shadow of Its Former Self

This time around, the enemies are vampiric entities called Shadow Souls. These nefarious beings feed on the citizens of Akihabara, draining their souls and turning them into antisocial shut-ins. The main character, Tanaka, gets attacked at the very beginning of the game, and a mysterious girl saves them by utilizing her own bodily fluids to heal their wounds.

This grants Tanaka supernatural powers, but at the cost of being vulnerable to sunlight just like the other Shadow Souls. Tanaka then joins NIRO to take down the remaining Shadow Souls to uncover their ultimate plan.

Those who’ve played Undead & Undressed (U&U) back in 2014 will certainly find themselves in familiar territory. While I’d say they’ll also enjoy Hellbound & Debriefed (H&D), it’s lacking in all of the many quality of life and gameplay improvements that U&U introduced seven years ago.

It’s almost as if the game was ported from PlayStation Portable onto modern platforms, but then nothing else was done to make it feel modern.

The lack of a lock-on system or any sort of manual targeting is an issue in U&U, and in H&D, the problem still hasn’t been solved. Combat feels as cumbersome as ever, with inconsistent, all-over-the-place hit detection.

In fact, gameplay has seemingly regressed here. 

You can hit your enemies in three areas: high, mid, and low, each corresponding to pieces of clothing, which are headwear, shirt, and pants, respectively. As you continue to hit your enemies, their clothing turns a different color, indicating that you can try and strip a particular piece of clothing off of them.

In U&U, you can try to strip off an enemy’s clothes by mashing a specific button. If you are unsuccessful, your efforts still contribute to lowering your target’s clothing HP meter. However, in H&D, that HP meter doesn’t go down at all, which effectively means that if you fail to strip an enemy’s clothing, your effort goes to waste. Furthermore, in U&U, you can see how much HP your clothing has. But that feature is completely gone in H&D, so it’s harder to gauge your own condition.

By putting away your weapon and adjusting your clothes, these two animations allow you to recover your HP. But it's a laborious process, as the animation leaves you wide open to enemy attacks. U&U does the exact same thing, except without having to put away a weapon, cutting the animation time in half.

The gameplay isn’t the only thing that’s gone backward here. U&U lets you open the Akihabara map at any time and go to a different location. In H&D, you have to actually run to the edge of the area to open up the map menu. Additionally, you can only save or change your clothes and equipment when the map is open, removing the change-at-any-time option found in U&U.

There are side quests in Hellbound & Debriefed as well, and they help expand Akihabara's worldbuilding. These are the usual fare, with you fighting enemies or fetching some sort of item. You can always pull up the To-Do list in your menu to read what's next in the main story or a side quest, but one aspect that is notably missing is an objective tracker. At this point, you can probably figure out that U&U had one...

It’s just baffling to see how many quality-of-life functions are missing here. In 2021, we’ve seen many remasters improve on their forebears, such as Nier Replicant and Shin Megami Tensei 3 HD Remaster. Unfortunately, Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed hasn't overhauled combat — like the former — nor does it have an already solid combat foundation — like the latter.

But that’s not to say there aren’t any positives to this game.

XSEED usually provides quality localization, and H&D is no exception. The English voice acting is great, and it’s a noticeable step up from Undead & Undressed. The cast of characters is charming too, with my favorite being the main heroine, Rui Fumitsuki. XSEED’s stellar script really helps bring the main and supporting casts to life.

While the game's 3D graphics are kind of ugly, I do really love the crisp 2D art style of the character portraits and special CG artwork that comes with the different endings. The music can be pretty good as well, particularly the battle themes.

Akiba's Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed — The Bottom Line


  • Top-notch localization and English voice dub from XSEED
  • 2D art style and CG wallpaper artwork is crisp and clean
  • Music can be pretty good


  • Gameplay is entirely too cumbersome
  • Lacking any gameplay or quality of life functions that were introduced in its 2014 sequel
  • Graphics look ugly on the big screen

I can really only recommend Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed to diehard fans of the series. It doesn’t have any gameplay or quality-of-life improvements that its 2014 sequel introduced, and as a result, it feels like a relic of the past.

While there are some emotional moments in the game’s story and the cast of characters can be fun, the gameplay is a chore to get through. It's just disappointing that this is such a barebones remaster.

[Note: XSEED provided the copy of Akiba's Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed used for this review.]

Judgment Remastered Review: CSI Kamurocho Thu, 22 Apr 2021 09:00:01 -0400 Henry Stockdale

Yakuza’s seen several spin-offs across the years, presenting Sega’s famous beat ‘em up franchise as two feudal-era adventures, zombie shooters, and a Fist of the North Star RPG that borrowed the series' gameplay. However, back in 2019, fans were arguably given the finest attempt yet when Judgment released on PS4.

Taking players back to Kamurocho, Judgment is more legal drama than action movie, retaining the series’ core mechanics while focusing more on investigative work. Following in the footsteps of Yakuza: Like A Dragon, a next-gen version of Judgment is now here for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and Google Stadia, and Judgment remastered is the best way to experience this adventure.

Judgment Remastered Review: CSI Kamurocho

Judgment tells the story of Takayuki Yagami, a disgraced attorney that successfully defended a serial murderer three years prior to the events of the game. Realizing his mistake cost lives, Yagami quits practicing law to become a private detective and start his own agency, working with ex-yakuza Masaharu Kaito, formerly of the Matsugane Family.

Kamurocho is gripped by fear as a brutal serial killer, who’s murdering yakuza and gouging their eyes out for unknown causes, stalks the streets. When a family captain is arrested for the crimes, the Matsugane patriarch asks our former lawyer to defend him.

Drawn into this new conspiracy as an investigator, it's up to players to discover who’s actually responsible for these grizzly murders, leading to a quite exhilarating story, something we praised it for in our initial review for the PS4 version. Despite Judgment's seemingly darker tone, even when compared to other Yakuza titles, the game balances those horrific acts well with Yakuza’s signature sense of humor.

When players aren’t tracking down the killer, Yagami can also accept odd jobs as side missions, which range from photographing a cheating husband to taking down the perverted “Twisted Trio." 

Notably, Judgment also leans more heavily into the series' life simulation aspects. While Yakuza features host clubs, Yagami can date one of four potential girlfriends, though Kaito is sadly not an option. If that’s not your speed, there are plenty of mini-games to keep you busy, including darts, drone racing, mahjong, and pinball. Unfortunately, karaoke doesn’t make the cut, so for anyone hoping to sing “Baka Mitai” as Yagami, I’ve got bad news.

Should you seek a more retro flavor, Club Sega once again includes emulated versions of classic games like Virtua Fighter 5, Puyo Puyo, Space Harrier, and more, making for quite a selection.

Yakuza veterans will discover a familiar gameplay loop across these troubled streets. While New Serena remains off-limits, players can still explore familiar locations like Kamurocho’s Millenium Tower and Champion District, frequently stockpile HP recovery items at the nearest convenience stores, and get repeatedly challenged by street thugs between destinations.

Yagami has two fighting styles: Crane and Tiger. Represented by a blue and red aura respectively, Crane is an acrobatic designed for tackling multiple enemies at once; Tiger prioritizes powerful strikes and is best saved for one-on-one situations.

During battles, you build up your EX meter and unleash some ridiculously over-the-top moves. These can be activated after meeting set criteria, such as when thugs are knocked to the floor or you’ve picked up a nearby item, like a traffic cone or bike.

To build up your strength, Judgment implements an unlockable skill system, which is split into three categories. “Ability” covers general stat boosts, like health, attack, and EX meter. “Battle” mainly provides additional EX attacks, while “Special” is best described as the miscellaneous section, boosting your detective skills and more.

Judgment’s next-gen improvements are all technical; core gameplay hasn’t changed in this remaster. Offering a 4K resolution upgrade, 60fps performance, and much faster loading times, Remastered is easily the best way to play, and combat has never felt so smooth.

Sadly, previous PS4 owners don’t have a free upgrade path from the previous version to this version, which makes it hard to recommend double-dipping when backwards compatibility exists, and as Like A Dragon, there’s no DualSense support here, either.

The only “extra” content available is two previously-released DLC packs that are now bundled in. Everything else remains intact.

Judgment Remastered — The Bottom Line


  • Still a wonderful detective story
  • Improved performance feels incredibly smooth
  • Sharp visuals
  • One of Kamurocho’s strongest adventures


  • Nothing new for previous players
  • Existing PS4 owners can’t upgrade for free
  • Crafting still feels unnecessary

Judgment isn’t your standard Yakuza game. It's brand-new story in a familiar world and a crime drama that comes together incredibly well, offering a fresh take on Kamurocho's tiring setting. Proving you don’t need Kazuma Kiryu to make a game like this compelling, Yagami and Kaito are superb additions to this universe, and I’d love to see them return in a sequel.

While it would’ve been easy falling back on existing characters – and there’s no escaping the Tojo Clan in Kamurocho – Judgment steers clear of familiar faces entirely. Differentiating itself enough from its parent franchise, that might disappoint those hoping for a Kiryu or Majima cameo, but it allows this new cast a chance to shine through.

As a direct remaster, previous frustrations remain, such as the lengthy target tailing sequences and unnecessary drone crafting mechanics. But when you’ve got such an engaging story packed with content and a keen sense of style, Remastered is undeniably the best way to play Judgment.

[Note: SEGA provided the PS5 copy of Judgment used for this review.]

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge Gets New Trailer, Announced for Switch Wed, 14 Apr 2021 15:36:31 -0400 Jonathan Moore

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge is coming to the Nintendo Switch. It's a move that makes more than a lot of sense considering some of the best games in the TMNT franchise are those found on Nintendo systems. It also makes sense because Shredder's Revenge seems like the perfect game to play on the go. 

The news was revealed during the latest Nintendo Indie World Showcase on April 14, and it came alongside a new gameplay trailer. While the reveal trailer that dropped back in March showed our heroes in a half shell taking on the Foot Clan and Bebop, the trailer below highlights each turtle and shows them taking on more of Shredder's minions and Rocksteady. 

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge is being developed by Dotemu, the same team behind the stellar Streets of Rage 4, and Tribute Games, who have previously worked on games like Mercenary Kings. Members of Tribute have also worked on Scott Pilgrim v. The World and the 2007 Ubisoft-published TMNT game for the Game Boy Advance. 

There's still no word on when TMNT: Shredder's Revenge will release, though it will also launch on PC when it does. It would be a shame if this beat-em-up didn't make its way to PlayStation and Xbox platforms, so here's to hoping there are more announcements to come. 

Streets of Rage 4 DLC Adds New Fighters to the Fray Later This Year Thu, 08 Apr 2021 13:08:14 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Streets of Rage 4 has sold more than 2.5 million copies since releasing in April 2020, and coinciding with that milestone, Dotemu announced a new Streets of Rage 4 DLC, Mr. X Nightmare. Mr. X Nightmare is a paid DLC pack with new characters and a new mode, though there's a free update coming later in 2021 as well.

There's currently no release date or price for the Streets of Rage 4 DLC.

Estel Aguirre is the first of three new fighters. It's also the first time the former boss character will bring her signature powerhouse kicks and punches to bear on the right side, but those aren't the only new moves Streets of Rage 4's DLC has in store.

Players can add new movesets to their characters as part of Mr. X Nightmare's new Survival mode and make use of new weapons and gear. Survival mode is a series of challenges designed to push your skills to the limits, though more details will be shared at a later date.

That's the paid Streets of Rage 4 DLC. There's also a free update adding New Mania+ difficulty, new color palettes, and an in-depth training mode.

We'll take any excuse to return to Streets of Rage 4, a game we called "the best kind of revival."

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge Coming from Dotemu, Looks a Lot Like Turtles in Time Wed, 10 Mar 2021 11:19:13 -0500 Josh Broadwell

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are coming back in a big way, dude. Dotemu announced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge, a pixel-art, arcade-style brawler developed by Dotemu in partnership with Tribute Games and Nickelodeon. 

Shredder's Revenge is still under development and doesn't have a release window yet. Evoking strong parallels to Turtles in Time, the best game to ever feature the heroes in a half shell, TMNT: Shredder's Revenge is a side-scrolling brawler with support for up to four players either through local co-op or online play.

The action unfolds across a number of classic Turtles environments, such as the New York sewers and Dimension X, though Dotemu hasn't mentioned what playable characters we can expect outside the Turtles themselves.

Shredder's Revenge draws on classics including Turtles in Time and blends the modern and retro together. Among other, as-yet-unannounced features, Shredder's Revenge introduces new skills for the Turtles built on "classic brawler mechanics." 

The trailer didn't mention platforms, but Shredder's Revenge is available for wishlisting on Steam now.

How to Unlock Knives Chau in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Thu, 28 Jan 2021 13:49:14 -0500 Hunter Boyce

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is a side-scrolling beat 'em up cult classic, and now it's finally back with the Complete Edition. Players looking to make the most out of the latest installment from the developers best known for Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Watch Dogs, and For Honor are going to want to unlock the iconic character Knives Chau.

The guide below tells you exactly how to do that. 

How to Unlock Knives Chau

A 17-year-old self-professed "Scottaholic," Chau's happy demeanor quickly changed after she discovered that Scott Pilgrim had cheated on her. Transformed with a new look and a darker attitude, Knives Chau's story quickly took an unexpected turn.

In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, you can continue Knives Chau's journey. But, you will first need to take a few of these steps.

Ubisoft often offers incentives to get players to join their network. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is no different. In order to play as Scott Pilgrim's third girlfriend, Knives Chau, you will have to link your game to your Ubisoft account.

Since you have to purchase Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game through Ubisoft's storefront on PC, console players are the only ones that will need to follow these steps. Knives Chau will already be unlocked for PC players.

Console players, don't fret. Scott Pilgrim's third girlfriend is only a few easy steps away.

  1. Make your way to the game's main menu
  2. Select the Ubisoft Connect option at the bottom of the screen
  3. From here, a new menu screen will prompt you to either create an account or to log into your preexisting account
  4. Either way, once you are logged into your account, you will be transported to the UPlay store. But, you will not need anything from this screen
  5. Rather, simply exit the screen and return to the game

After returning to the game, the iconic character will be yours to play. Of course, unlocking Knives Chau is just the first step to making the most out of this surprisingly tough 2D side-scroller. Check out all of our Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game guides right here.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Review — A Little Outdated But Still Fun Wed, 13 Jan 2021 17:41:20 -0500 George Yang

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game has had a cult following since it released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2010, but it was made more evident after the game was pulled from digital store listings back in 2014.

Ever since, fans have clamored for the game to return in some form, and they have gotten their wish with this new remaster, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game — Complete Edition.

While it is generally a fun game, it ultimately feels stuck in 2010.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game Review — A Little Outdated But Still Fun

The bulk of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World lies in its Story Mode, which follows Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers as Scott sets out to defeat Ramona’s seven exes across seven different levels. These levels are set up on a world map in a Super-Mario-like fashion, where completing one level opens the next, and you can return to previous levels whenever you wish. 

Unlike the original release, which only allowed you to pick between four characters, there are six characters to choose from at the beginning in the Complete Edition, bringing the original's DLC characters, Knives Chau and Wallace Wells, alongside Scott, Ramona, Stephen Stills, and Kim Pine. 

The beat ‘em gameplay central to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is pretty simple and familiar. You have your standard light attack and heavy attack buttons.

Enemies drop money that you can use to purchase equipment to boost your stats, as well as food to restore your health and experience points to level up. Equipment, such as the 101 Push-Ups book, gives you a small permanent increase to your strength to help you take out more enemies faster, while the Winifred Hailey record raises your defense to reduce the amount of damage you receive.  

Additionally, each character can be leveled up, maxing out at Level 16, learning a new technique with each level. This leveling system does, however, feel imbalanced, where some techniques should be learned or unlocked earlier in the game when compared to others. 

For example, the Air Recovery skill isn’t available until Level 15, yet having it available sooner would help counteract enemies capable of knocking you into the air repeatedly. 

I eventually warmed up to the system since I felt like I was actually progressing as more attacks and skills unlocked, ultimately allowing for more interesting combos, but a tweak to its pathing would have been nice. 

Though Scott Pilgrim vs. The World can be played as a single-player experience, it feels more suited to co-operative play. 

Some areas are flooded with a massive number of enemies, and if you’re playing solo, you can easily find yourself overwhelmed. It's true for even the standard difficulty, and it's made more apparent when enemies stunlock you before throwing out more devastating attacks. It wasn’t until I purchased a very expensive item that gave me a permanent +50 strength increase that the number of enemies being thrown my way became much more manageable.

Unsurprisingly, online multiplayer with friends is pretty fun — when it actually works.

Up to four people can play in one session, either online or offline, making certain parts of the game easier. Together with your co-op teammates, you can execute moves unavailable during solo play, such as combined attacks, reviving each other when your HP hits zero, and even stealing lives from each other without permission.

However, my group and I ended up having to cut multiple gaming sessions early and restart entire levels because of glitches and game freezes. 

One instance saw me walk out of a shop and — nothing. But the music kept playing. A friend walking out of the same shop was met with a black screen that just stuck there. I also had issues where an NPC would be introduced, only for a cutscene sequence to stall and not progress. My friend, who was in the same group as me, said he didn’t see the NPC’s sprite appear at all! 

Local multiplayer runs as smooth as butter compared to online multiplayer, so it's unfortunate that freezes and glitches compromise an otherwise fun online component

While Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game — Complete Edition may stumble in other areas, it's replayability isn't such an area. 

There are several different difficulty settings, and each character you clear the Story Mode with has a different ending. Additionally, there are extra game modes outside of the Story Mode that include Boss Rush, Survival Horror, Battle Royal, and Dodgeball.

Boss Rush sees you fighting each of the game's bosses until you're defeated. Survival Horror pits you against hordes of zombies, and you must survive as long as you can. Battle Royal is a free-for-all brawl between players until only one is left standing. And Dodgeball is similar in the sense that a ball-like object is placed in the center and players must pick up and throw it at other players to deal damage, with the last one standing the winner.

Up to four players can join, but unfortunately, these extra modes seem to be only available in local co-op.

Another area in which Scott Pilgrim vs. The World shines is with its soundtrack. The music is incredibly catchy and gets you pumped to take down Ramona’s seven exes. The 8-bit art style is also charming but sometimes looks low-res when it’s blown up on the big screen — and some areas, such as the opening credits sequence that displays the publisher's and developer's logos, are low resolution even in Switch's undocked handheld mode. 

  • Good amount of replayability
  • Charming art style
  • Great soundtrack
  • Online multiplayer and co-op is very fun when it works
  • No noticeable framerate dips or long loading times 
  • Incredibly inconsistent difficult curve
  • Online play is prone to glitches and timed out disconnections
  • Visuals are sometimes blurry and have low resolution

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game  Complete Edition feels a bit outdated and inconsistent. It’s pretty much the same game as the 2010 release with the DLC included and online functionality added, but it doesn't take the chance to add to the overall experience or make the most of newer hardware.

Despite having to grind stages for money to buy stat-boosting equipment, a single-player mode that's more suited to multiplayer, and a number of irritating glitches, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is fun to play in short bursts and a nostalgia trip for all of those fans anxiously awaiting its return. 

[Note: Ubisoft provided the copy of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game — Complete Edition used for this review.]

Claim 4 Free Steam Games as Part of Sega's 60th Birthday Thu, 15 Oct 2020 16:13:11 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Sega is celebrating its 60th birthday with a bevy of free games on Steam, along with plenty of discounts. One of those free games is Streets of Kamurocho, a free Streets of Rage 2 x Yakuza mashup from Empty Clip Games only available from October 17 to October 19.

Streets of Kamurocho has players choose from Kiryu Kazuma and Goro Majima and then wander the streets of Kamurocho, pounding the pudding out of thugs along the way — the usual Yakuza material.

But all this takes place in glorious 2D. Kamurocho's iconic locations and, surprise, streets are recreated in Streets of Rage 2 style.

Along with Streets of Kamurocho, Sega fans can claim the following free games:

  • Armor of Heroes — co-op, top-down shooter, available until October 19
  • Golden Axedworking prototype of the canceled Golden Axe Reborn, available until October 19.
  • Endless Zone — combination of Endless Universe and Fantasy Zone, available from October 16 to October 19

Finally, Sega is hosting a Steam sale featuring Warhammer, Company of Heroes, Two Point Hospital, Persona 4 Golden, Yakuza 0, Alien: Isolation, Shenmue 1+2, Bayonetta, and a handful of free-to-keep games including Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The sale itself ends on October 19, and it features savings of up to 95% off. If you're a Sega fan, there's plenty worth checking out. 

Battletoads Review: A Blast From The Past Wed, 19 Aug 2020 20:00:02 -0400 Daniel Hollis

Everyone remembers the infamous Turbo Tunnel level in the original Battletoads. Known for being notoriously hard, it swallowed quarters in droves during the heyday of arcades. The level took patience, perseverance, and a little luck to accomplish, but once you beat it, you were washed in a feeling like no other.

It was a testament to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles inspired game that many fell in love with. The game's cartoony visuals, loud-mouthed heroes, and classic beat ‘em up gameplay were indicative of the style that saturated the genre at the time. Over the past 26 years, fans have still clambered for another iteration — and the day they have been waiting for has arrived.

A lot has changed over those years and Battletoads knows it. Instead of feeling like a relic from a bygone era, the new installment feels very much like a love letter to the past few decades of gaming and an elaborate animated adventure that’s well worth your time.

Battletoads Review: A Blast From the Past

Marked as a reboot, Battletoads 2020 has players control Rash, Pimple, and Zitz across multiple stages. Acknowledging a substantial amount of time has passed since the last entry, the trio is stuck in a rut as times have changed. However, a series of strange events propels them forward into a new adventure that grows more elaborate by the second.

The plot that runs between each of the stages is loosely connected and filled with multiple gags and puns to drive the game's humor home. Most of the time, unfortunately, the jokes fall flat, but certain gems remain buried in the proverbial rough.

It’s hard to pinpoint which genre Battletoads falls into. Though some levels fall into specific conventions, others mesh styles, making Battletoads a genre-hopping adventure that's relentless in introducing new ideas.

For any gameplay element that doesn’t work for you, multiple proceeding stages likely will. Battletoads successfully balances being a platformer, a racer, a puzzle game, and so much more, all in one coherent package.

Between its narrative threads and gameplay elements, it often feels as though Battletoads is throwing everything at the player just to see what sticks. For most games, this would be off-putting, ruining the flow of the adventure. However, the developers at Dlala Studios have successfully ensured each segment is as polished and nuanced as it deserves to be.

Everything controls with the care and detail of a full retail experience. The beat ‘em up sections provide wonderful feedback with every kick, punch, and swing, and all three characters have different moves to keep the combat fresh. Swapping between each one on the fly can keep your combo going and the animated art style creates for some truly visceral encounters.

Boss battles are a particular highlight and embrace an old-school mentality. Delivering the pain requires a balance of platforming, dodging, and attacking. Each battle feels like the pinnacle of one or a set of combat mechanics, and accomplishing these challenging gauntlets feels rewarding. 

Elsewhere, players will find platforming levels, which do away with combat and instead offer puzzles as progression blocks. None are particularly challenging, but they break up the pace enough to bring something new to the table. 

Breaking down each gameplay variant would spoil a lot of the fun, and one of Battletoad’s greatest strengths is the way it manages to constantly surprise the player. 

While the Battletoad's campaign is breezy, it ultimately feels too short for its own good. Collectibles are littered throughout certain levels to extend the runtime, with additional ones obtainable through stage-specific challenges. These range from gaining an "A" rank in a combat encounter or completing a level within a certain time frame. However, none are enough to warrant another playthrough unless you’re a completionist.

Two other friends can accompany you on your adventure through couch co op. No online play is supported (yet), which feels like a huge oversight, especially for a game that will be readily available to many through Xbox Game Pass at launch. Local co-op has its charms, but again, the constant genre-changing nature may work for some players and not for others, so finding the perfect partner is key.

All of the game’s features are delivered through an aesthetic that truly embraces the animated style the series is known for. While many have criticized the art style, having the controller in your hands and playing the game is completely different. Each frame is meticulously crafted with such detail that it often feels as though you’re scrambling through the frames of a comic book. 

It often invokes the feeling of playing through an episode of Rick & Morty or any other Adult Swim property. Backgrounds are given character and the varied number of character animations brings some wonderful personality to each Battletoad. Simply put, it’s a visual treat.

Battletoads Review — The Bottom Line

  • Beautiful hand-drawn art-style
  • Each genre is given time and care
  • Full of surprises and a wonderful blast to the past
  • Too short
  • Lack of online co-op
  • Humour often falls flat

Battletoads surprised me with how furiously fun it is. Gaming has changed drastically throughout the years, but the adventure often feels like a nostalgic trip through forgotten genres. With first-person shooters, RPGs, and battle royales dominating the gaming landscape, Battletoads feels like a breath of fresh air, despite riffing on classic gaming tropes.

The urgency at which it propels you through its runtime is both a blessing and a curse, as it’s hard to put down but ultimately a short affair. The humor fails to land most of the time and is clearly held back by its desire to cater to a wider audience.

Despite its missteps, Battletoads is a fantastically fun thrill ride with plenty of twists and turns. While its genre-hopping nature might not be for everyone, those who are gripped by it are in for a tubular ride. 

[Note: Rare provided the copy of Battletoads used for this review.]

No Straight Roads Preview: Rock vs. The Evils of Techno Music Fri, 31 Jul 2020 13:37:40 -0400 Thomas Wilde

I played a short sample of No Straight Roads last year at E3. It wasn't much more than a vertical slice back then, consisting of a single boss fight, but it had a lot going for it just on the basis of raw style. It's a crazy cartoon of a beat-'em-up, where every frame looks like a high-concept music video.


No Straight Roads is a passion project from Wan Hazmer, a Malaysian game designer who previously worked at Square Enix as lead designer on Final Fantasy 15. Inspired by Psychonauts and Jet Grind Radio, he had the bare bones of the game half sketched out before he left SE in 2017 and put together an international, distributed team under the name Metronomik to make it happen.



In Vinyl City, music is both big business and clean energy, courtesy of the NSR corporation. Musicians compete to prove they have what it takes to power up the city. You play as Mayday and Zeke, the two members of Bunk Bed Junction, the last rock band in Vinyl.


One night, Mayday and Zeke show up for an audition at NSR's Lights Out program, but they get unceremoniously kicked out the door for being rock musicians. EDM, they're told, is the only music worth talking about.


On their way home, though, Mayday and Zeke find out that their performance, despite the genre, was more than powerful enough to keep the lights on. They're subsequently caught in a blackout, which cuts power to every part of the city besides the NSR buildings, leaving ordinary people in the dark despite the surfeit of power.


On top of that, when the lead judge Tatiana makes a public announcement specifically to talk trash about rock music, Mayday decides the time has come for a revolution. EDM must fall before the power of rock.



Hazmer told me at E3 that No Straight Roads was made by designing its soundtrack first, then building the game up around it. On paper, it's a straightforward, colorful brawler, where you can play it co-op with a buddy or single-player with Mayday and Zeke as a tag-team, but the music and animation are carrying the show.


You fight with Zeke's drumsticks or Mayday's guitar, doing simple chain combos, and you can collect notes from the environment to use a ranged attack. Mayday is the power hitter, delivering more raw damage per hit, but Zeke delivers quick combo strings that are easier to cancel into a dodge.


The trick is that almost everything in NSR works a little-to-a-lot better if you can do it to the soundtrack's beat, whether it's dodging an enemy's shockwaves, parrying a projectile back at its user, or dodging a boss's fusillade. You can get by without paying too much attention to the beat, which is what I have to do, as I am substantially rhythm-challenged, but the game does feel a lot better when you're moving and fighting along with the music.



It's difficult to convey, in fact, how well the game works when it hits its stride. In bigger fights, where Mayday and Zeke are up against another musician, the game turns to a round of dueling soundtracks. The better you're doing, the harder Bunk Bed Junction's rock themes overpower your opponent's EDM-fueled beats, and back again.


Between that and the constantly evolving visuals, this was one of my big picks coming out of E3 last year. The gameplay's okay, but the presentation is what gets and keeps your attention.


Besides, not every game makes you crazy musical rock rebels trying to overthrow the tyrannical dominance of electronic dance music. Sometimes, I appreciate a game just for the sake of the sentences it allows me to construct.


No Straight Roads is due out on August 25 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via the Epic Games Store. Stay tuned for more coverage, including our review, as the launch date approaches. 

How to Unlock Characters in Streets of Rage 4 Mon, 04 May 2020 18:45:08 -0400 Jonathan Moore

If you're wondering how to unlock characters in Streets of Rage 4, then you've come to the right place. Unlike some other games that make you jump through hoops to unlock their hidden rosters, Streets of Rage 4 simply requires you to play through the game. You don't have to find any secrets or beat any of the game's retro levels. 

Below, we'll look at what characters you unlock when, and how to score the most points on each stage. 

How to Unlock Characters in Streets of Rage 4

Character Unlock Levels in Streets of Rage 4

Character unlocks are tied to your lifetime score. After you beat a level in story mode, boss rush, or arcade mode, for example, you will see a progress bar appear on the screen. The nodes on the progress bar represent character unlocks. 

The unlock nodes aren't exactly at regular point intervals, though. Some unlock after 300,000 points, while others become available after 730,000 points. One thing's for sure, though: you're going to need around 1 million points across your lifetime score to unlock the game's full roster.

I've accumulated 725,917 lifetime points after beating the game three and a half times. Depending on how well you play, you might have more points or fewer. 

Here's the order in which you will unlock characters in Streets of Rage 4

  1. SoR1 Axel
  2. SoR1 Adam
  3. SoR1 Blaze
  4. SoR2 Axel
  5. SoR2 Blaze
  6. SoR2 Max + Skate
  7. SoR3 Axel
  8. SoR3 Blaze
  9. SoR3 Eddie
  10. SoR3 Dr. Zan
  11. SoR3 Shiva

You unlock SoR4 Adam Hunter after beating Chapter 4 in the game's story mode. You can do this with any character, including Axel, Blaze, Cherry, and Floyd. 

Eight Streets of Rage 4 trophies and achievements are tied to beating the game: four with SoR4 characters and four with retro characters. 

How to Get More Points in Streets of Rage 4

The total points you get after completing a stage varies based on several factors: 

  • Stage Score
  • Time Bonus
  • Health Bonus
  • Star Bonus
  • First-Clear
  • Stage-Rank
    • New-Rank

Stage Score

This is the score you get while playing the level. It can be seen above your life bar. In-level score is increased by defeating enemies, getting high combos, picking up money bags and suitcases, picking up stars, and picking up food. 

To get higher combos, make use of back attacks, throws, weapons, and environmental objects such as cars, newsstands, barrels, and chairs. Don't always go into a full combo, either. Certain enemies can be staggered by a single hit (love-tap) over and over again, giving you time to line up other enemies or objects or to set up invincibility-frame attacks.  

By the same token, you can use environmental objects to keep combos going between enemy spawns, and you can throw weapons to elongate combos if enemies are out of reach. 

Always pick up food, even if you don't need it; it adds to your score, whether it adds to your life bar or not. 

Completion Time

The faster you complete a stage, the more points you'll get. In the hierarchy of points, you'll often get far more the faster you beat a stage than you would preserving your health and star bonuses. 

Health Bonus

The more lives you have when you finish a level, the more points you'll receive at the end of the level. Try to not only stay alive as much as possible but also to gather in-level points to get extra lives for the highest scores. 

Star Bonus

Star Moves are big special moves that can get you out of sticky situations. You start each level with one, which is denoted by a star underneath your health bar. As you play through levels, you come across more stars for more Star Moves. 

However, the more stars you have left at the end of a level, the more points you'll get. If you're trying to unlock characters fast, try to use Star Moves as little as possible.  

First-Clear Score

This is the score you get for beating a level with a new character, which includes starting characters and each secret character. You only get this score once per level for each character. 

Stage-Rank/New-Rank Score

Stage-Rank Score is the score you get for achieving any rank on a level. New-Rank Score is the score you get for achieving a new rank on any level. You will get more points for changing D-Rank to S-Rank than D-Rank to C-Rank, for example, but getting better ranks is always a good thing. 


That's all you need to know about how to unlock characters in Streets of Rage 4. There aren't too many secrets to doing it quickly, but hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you unlock the game's retro characters as fast as possible. For more on SoR4, be sure to check out our retro levels guide, as well as our official review

Streets of Rage 4 Review: Innovation Rather Than Imitation Wed, 29 Apr 2020 11:00:02 -0400 Thomas Wilde

I was expecting a lot less than I got with Streets of Rage 4.

It’s been 26 years and almost five full console generations since the last Streets of Rage game, and like most of Sega’s original IP these days, it seemed like SoR was going to stay in the dustbin. I figured the best we’d ever get was some half-hearted nostalgia cash-in, like how Konami tried to farm out most of its B-tier series to small indie studios back in the Xbox 360/PS3 days.

When I first heard of it, that’s exactly what Streets of Rage 4 sounded like. Sega wasn’t developing it; instead, they were letting a trio of French and Canadian developers – Lizardcube, Guard Crush, and Dotemu – do it for them. I played the sixth stage on the PAX West show floor last year, and while the gameplay felt like it was there, I still wasn’t sure what to expect from the full version.

As it turns out, Streets of Rage 4 is the best kind of revival. It absolutely revels in the franchise’s roots, but the designers have put a lot of thought into what does and does not work in the old arcade beat-‘em-up formula.

My biggest criticism of attempted genre revivals from the last few years, like Fight’N Rage and The Takeover, is that they tend to go so hard on replicating the Authentic Arcade Experience that they also include the drawbacks. Streets of Rage 4 actually tries to shift the model forward, by changing up how the combat system works.

I do have to ding it a bit for not explaining that system as well as it could, though. I get the feeling you’re going to see a lot of salt online about SoR4, and it’s mostly going to be down to its lack of an effective tutorial.

Streets of Rage 4 Review: Innovation Rather Than Imitation

It’s been 10 years since Axel and Blaze’s last city-wide vigilante spree. Their nemesis, Mr. X, is gone for good, but his twin children, who answer to Mr. and Ms. Y, have risen to take his place.

Axel and Blaze set out to track the Y twins down. They’re joined by Floyd, a cybernetically-enhanced brawler who is blatantly Jax Briggs from Mortal Kombat (although Jax never had the Proton Cannon, so that's something); Cherry, a guitar-wielding musician who’s the daughter of Adam Hunter from the original Streets of Rage; and Adam, who rejoins the playable roster after you clear a few chapters in Story Mode.

It’s an excuse plot, of course. The entire thing is a lengthy series of reasons why you have to beat the living hell out of several hundred assorted gangbangers, bent cops, bikers, and the occasional inexplicable cyberninja.

The city of Streets of Rage is still a decaying hellhole, where it’s 10 years after SoR3 but is inexplicably still 1992, somehow. Every stray door, manhole, alleyway, and rooftop is occupied by a dozen homicidal nerds who dress like backup dancers in the Funky Bunch. You can tell the level designers had a lot of fun depicting this kind of ‘80s-movie urban squalor.

The first stage of Streets of Rage 4 has training wheels on, so you can get used to the mechanics. It’s a lot fairer than a lot of throwback brawlers like this, with health pickups regularly showing up as you progress through each level. Your characters have a familiar assortment of basic attacks, including throws, slams, trusty jump kicks, and screen-clearing specials that the game calls “Star Moves.”

The big innovation, however, is the addition of an extra attack, which is mapped to the “special” button. When you press it by itself, it’s a defensive move, which clears some space and gives you i-frames. Press it while you’re pushing forward, and it’s instead an offensive move, which varies widely by character.

Blaze does a double palm strike that knocks enemies flying, Floyd grabs an enemy from a fair distance away, Cherry slams an enemy with her guitar, and Axel… well, Axel grew up and went the rest of the way towards being a scruffy-bearded Ken Masters, so he Dragon Punches guys.

Seriously. Axel’s “Star Move” super in SoR4 is the Shinryuken. (And Adam's is the Power Geyser.) It’s pretty blatant. The point behind the special button, though, is to give you invincibility frames on demand. 

There are a lot of attacks in Streets of Rage 4, even from standard enemies, that are difficult or impossible to simply dodge on reaction. Instead, you’re supposed to watch for the wind-up and muscle through it with a special move. If you’ve figured this out, the game suddenly opens right up; if not, you get stopped dead by the riot cops in Stage 2.

SoR4 actively punishes you for button-mashing. The special attacks cost a bit of life every time you use them, but the loss is temporary; you can replenish the lost life a bit at a time with every hit you land afterward. If you get hit before you’ve regained it, though, you take normal damage and lose the temporary health on top of it.

With Axel and Floyd in particular, both of whom have very spammable special attacks, it’s a risk vs. reward scenario; you can gamble an entire health bar on your next combo, but if you take a stray hit afterward, you’re dead.

It’s easy to overlook. There’s a quick and dirty tutorial in the main menu, labeled “Fighting Tips” and designed like it's an arcade cabinet moveslist, but it isn’t deliberately highlighted like most of SoR4’s other mechanics. It took me a couple of tries before I realized what I was “supposed” to be doing, and once I did, the game started to feel much fairer.

In retrospect, Streets of Rage 4 feels like a long response to the criticism that arcade-style brawlers like this are mostly about button-mashing. The game is set up specifically to punish you for being on autopilot, as many enemies have invincibility frames or fast-moving attacks of their own. If you know their patterns and can armor through them with your special, though, you turn the tide at once.

I like how it feels. I’ve played a lot of games lately that played like they were more interested in honoring their franchise’s history than actually doing their own thing – here I side-eye Doom Eternal – and I was really expecting that from Streets of Rage 4.

There is some nostalgia bait here, like being able to unlock Axel, Blaze, and Adam’s original pixel art from the first game as what are basically new playable characters. There’s just as much of the game, though, that feels like an extended love letter to fighting games and brawlers as a whole, ranging from Final Fight to Double Dragon to King of Fighters and beyond.

You can play it a few times in a row and spot what looks like a different shout-out or Easter egg every time, and while I’m not sure how much of it I’m imagining – like how the karate mini-bosses look a lot like KOF13-era Takuma Sakazaki – it’s clearly all coming out of how much the designers love the genre as a whole.

The soundtrack’s further proof of that. Yeah, Dotemu and friends got Yuzo Koshiro back as a composer, because you couldn’t call it Streets of Rage at all without him, but he came alongside a supergroup of Japanese chiptune composers.

Hideki Naganuma (Jet Set Radio), Yoko Shimomura (Final Fight, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy 15) and Keiji Yamagishi (Ninja Gaiden, The Messenger) have all contributed to Streets of Rage 4’s soundtrack, and all of them are tapping straight into the weird dirty trance and electrofunk that got the SoR series at least some of its fan following.

The game does start wearing out its welcome by its end. Once it starts introducing mechanics like a wrecking ball that you can kick into enemies, it's running out of steam, and it all ends in a final boss that's too obnoxious by half. Still, 10 good stages out of 12 isn't bad.

Streets of Rage 4 Review — The Bottom Line

  • The soundtrack. That’s it
  • Once you get a handle on defensive moves, you start to feel like a badass
  • I beat a guy with another guy and it was fun
  • The European-comics art style is genuinely cool and tasteful
  • Crucial defensive moves could be explained a lot better in play
  • The last stage is kinda awful…
  • …mostly because of the last boss

I was pleasantly surprised by Streets of Rage 4 once I figured it out. It plays a bit of a trick on you if you’re a fan of this sort of game, where you fall into your old patterns almost immediately, but the game is built to smack you down if you do. Instead, it’s got a simple combat system with some real depth to it, and which only gets more fun as you add players in co-op.

Maybe as long as the Lizardcube/Dotemu/Guard Crush crew is at it, they can rescue a few more Sega franchises from the ash heap. I wouldn’t mind seeing what they could do with, say, Eternal Champions.

[Note: A copy of Streets of Rage 4 was provided by Dotemu for the purpose of this review.]

Streets of Rage 4 Release Date and Battle Mode Announced Fri, 17 Apr 2020 13:15:15 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Following last week's character trailer, Streets of Rage 4's release date was just announced, alongside the return of Battle Mode from Streets of Rage 2 and 3Streets of Rage 4 will launch on April 30 for PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch for $24.99, and it'll be available on Game Pass the same day.

The new trailer shows Streets of Rage 4 Battle Mode in full swing. You and up to three friends will face off against each other, testing each other's skills and deciding once and for all who walks away crowned with glory. It's also a good chance to just test out each fighter and learn how their skills work.

And you'll have plenty to test out. As we announced last week, Streets of Rage 4 includes its own full roster plus 12 retro classics from previous Streets of Rage games. It's almost every classic fighter, and the dev team didn't have an easy time of making it work.

Dotemu's Cyrille Imbert said in a post on the PlayStation blog:

We didn’t have any Streets of Rage 4 characters ready then, so in order to start testing things and working on the gameplay, Jordi Asensio, our game designer, ripped some sprites from previous Streets of Rage games and integrated them into the Guard Crush engine.

As the development went along, we realized that these sprites actually looked really good visually... and that having them playable was something we knew fans would love.

The same process was true for the music. Classic Streets of Rage soundtracks were used as placeholders, then merged with the new sound system to create a brand-new feature.

We really enjoyed the chaos and satisfaction Streets of Rage 4 at PAX West last year, and we can't wait to get our hands on the final product. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more Streets of Rage 4 news as it breaks.

Old and New Face Off in Streets of Rage 4 Retro Trailer Wed, 08 Apr 2020 13:41:20 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Lizardcube and Guard Crush Games, together with publisher Dotemu, released a new trailer for Streets of Rage 4 today. It's loud, violent, and glorious, but most of all, it reveals we'll be getting some classics with the upcoming retro fighter throwback.

Streets of Rage 4 lets you unlock pixel-art fighters from the original Streets of Rage trilogy like Skate and Max. They include their special skillsets from the original games as well.

For example, "Streets of Rage's fighters can call the cops... while Streets of Rage 3's characters can sprint and roll through environments." All told, the roster in Streets of Rage 4 will total 17 fighters, both old and new. 

Streets of Rage 4 also gives you the option to switch to a soundtrack paying homage to the originals, complete with songs from the first three Streets of Rage games. The new soundtrack is worth your time because it includes new compositions from series composers Yūzō Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima, among other noted contributors.

It's been 25 years since we last had a new Streets of Rage game, but we'll need to wait a while longer to get our hands on Streets of Rage 4.

Contrary to an incorrect eShop listing that popped up earlier today, Streets of Rage 4's release date on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC isn't set in stone yet. According to Dotemu, it'll be Day-One for Xbox Game Pass when it does launch, and it will be $24.99 on all platforms. 

We're really looking forward to this fantastic fighter, so stay tuned to GameSkinny for more Streets of Rage 4 news as it busts in.

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is Dynasty Warriors but BIG Tue, 28 Jan 2020 10:15:01 -0500 Jason Coles

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is the latest entry in the punch and slash series, and while it's not actually out yet, I've had a chance to play it. And let me tell you: I have some thoughts. 

If you've never played a Pirate Warrior game, just imagine Dynasty Warriors but with the One Piece characters. If you've never played a Dynasty Warriors game, then all you really need to know is that they're all about cutting down hundreds of enemies in completely over-the-top fashion while capturing bases and whatnot on each map. 

If you've never heard of One Piece, then honestly, just Google it. It's about pirates and the importance of a well-rounded diet that includes fruit. Also, there are swords and straw hats, and very odd body types. 

Yes, but BIGGER

Anyway, aside from the usual draws of just punching stuff into oblivion, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 offers new giant characters. These are characters like Big Mom, Katakuri, and Cavendish. 

While the Warriors games are always about cutting through hordes as though they were nothing, the giant characters make it feel a little more believable. You tower over the other characters — I'm talking being a good 10 feet taller than everyone else — and it makes defeating 40 of them with a single attack far easier to digest.

Not that realism is the focus of these games in any way at all; it's just something to consider when playing as a character called Big Mom. 

Though I only got to play on a level that is entirely made of cakes and sweets and only as one of these absolute units, I can tell you that these new characters are intriguing at the very least. 

I'm Running Into the God Damn Walls

The sheer size of these larger-than-life-but-actually-larger characters makes the game feel different. Generally speaking, Pirate Warriors maps are quite large, and making your way around them can take a fair bit of time as a result. That's not the case thanks to the scale difference here, so it made the map feel almost claustrophobic in places during my playthrough. 

The feeling of being stuffed into trousers three sizes too small comes into play with some of the abilities too. Katakuri has an ability that lets him skate around on a mountain of whipped cream (I think), which carries him forward at a decent rate. The trouble is that you end up getting stuck on walls and dead-ends, especially as things don't feel as clearly marked as when you're the same height as everyone else. 

It's still a lot of fun, and the abilities are wonderful. For example, making a huge pile of cream (SFW) explode and take out a bunch of enemies is good fun.

I'm sure One Piece fans will be incredibly excited by the prospect of diving back into another one of these titles, but it's hard to say what's here for new fans or new players. It will be interesting to see how it pans out, but I'm sure it'll find a fanbase either way. 

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more on One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 as it develops. The game is set for a March 27 release on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.