The Switch, along with nearly every other type of game, has become a great home for the arcade brawler situation, and it’s easy to see why. These types of titles, from the long, long ago of Final Fight all the way to more modern takes like 99 Vidas, are exceptionally enjoyable from both casual and dedicated standpoints, and they are infinitely more fun when you can have another player or two join in. Therefore, the console made for literally breaking off a controller and handing it to someone feels like the ideal spot for brawlers to gain leverage. Still, one of the biggest drawbacks is that many of the classics were made for arcade machines. They expect different control inputs, larger screens, and the incentive to pump in more quarters, so the unfairness can sometimes be high. So it’s really cool to see a console-based brawler deliver with not only a strong arcade presence, but also having a lot of extra goodies, features and secrets to keep the players coming back for more. This is Fight’N Rage, brought to us by Sebastián García and ported by Blitworks.
Fight’N Rage has a surprisingly robust storyline that actually expands the more you play and the further you go with the playable characters. In the far flung future, Earth has had a twofold calamity that has reduced the human race to a slave status to mutants, which take the form of anthropomorphic animals that run various cartels and gangs. You play the role of the resistance, which, in this case, takes the form of two humans and a sympathetic mutant. You either play as Gal, the kickboxing speed character with a lot of bounce animation for such a small pile of pixels; F. Norris, the aging ninja with a pretty low pain tolerance but a shockingly effective series of attacks and combinations; and Ricardo, a minotaur mutant who moves slowly and hits like a ton of bricks. Each character legitimately has their own demons to face along the way, and, while the story doesn’t open up like a massive RPG, there’s still something to be gleaned by experiencing a playthrough in each of the characters shoes (or hooves).
One of the claims to games for Fight’N Rage is that the whole of the button combinations are available from the very beginning, and that’s basically true. You have, technically, only three buttons to worry about: attack, special attack, and jump. However, you shouldn’t let the simple presentation fool you, because there’s a ton to extrapolate once the game gets going. For example, hitting jump twice will activate an aerial attack which, depending on the character, can be a parlay into a combo or be a way to extend a currently ongoing combo. The special attack works differently on the ground, in the air, and, occasionally, when dashing, and that’s to say nothing of successfully getting an enemy into a grapple position, which can quickly turn into a speed beating, a throw, or a full on suplex, depending on the character and buttons. The objectives of the level are simple, obviously, in asking you to beat up everything that isn’t a player on the screen, but you do yourself a disservice by assuming it’ll be easy. Hell, once you really get to know your characters, you can even start to parry attacks, which becomes crucial if you want to make it all the way to the end of a single player mission.
From a purely arcade brawler stance, Fight’N Rage positively nails some of the most important elements to making the game both fun and challenging without being infuriating. The enemy density is not only well spread, it also spawns in good locations and fashion to keep the player on their toes without becoming victims of sucker punches and surprise appearances. Additionally, the enemies themselves tend to practice tough but fair AI behavior in terms of teaming up and attacking you in waves, keeping things tight but not relentless. Too often, when it comes to AI behavior, we see enemies that are either very apathetic and only vaguely interested in attacking, or some full on 28 Days Later behavior where you can’t have more than one enemy on screen at a time or it turns into a bloodbath. With the right balance of tenacity and patience, the enemy mobs are some of the better that I’ve seen in terms of making the gameplay tight and consistent.
Additionally, Fight’N Rage adds variables in terms of pickups scattered throughout, with some being fixed and some (seemingly) being random. Naturally, there are apples and fully roasted chickens hanging out in trash cans and on enemy persons, because how else are you going to get your daily nutritional values while fighting against mutant hordes? Also, there is the “powerup” orb that gives you a massive burst of speed and energy, seems to make you nigh invulnerable for a period of time and also tests your willpower, tasking you to wait before unleashing it in order to make the most out of things (or saving it till it’s too late, if you’re from that school of Final Fantasy elixir belief). Most interestingly, there are the weapons that are dropped by enemies, from crowbars and swords to shuriken and lead pipes, and these add a bit of damage, a bit of flair and a bit of versatility within the crowd.
Also, the weapons give you an idea of what a menagerie of enemies you end up fighting across the different levels, since the shuriken come from both human ninjas (who don’t seem to mind being subservient) to ninja crows, proving that crows really are the assassins of the animal kingdom. You’ll encounter all types on your journey to the top, with huge boss fights bookending most chapters and forcing you to figure out how to play better than “mash the button.” For example, there’s this brutally huge minotaur you find a few levels in who, if you simply walk up to him and start wailing away, will crush the life out of you. Or a certain bastard boss who fights you on a moving raft that can just fly merrily above it, and you’ll lose a sizable chunk of life every time you fall off the raft. Seriously, the flying enemies are just the goddamn worst, but that’s because I have poor depth perception and don’t like to learn from my mistakes. Thankfully, Fight’N Rage really is generous on normal difficulty with both giving you plenty of healing pickups and generating extra lives every so often.
What’s most impressive about Fight’N Rage is, in all honesty, the replayability. Very early on, I thought I was going to get bored because, well, I didn’t have anyone else to play with initially and brawlers are more fun with friends (it’s a special holiday week for me but everyone else has school and work). However, as luck would have it, I accidentally unlocked a secret pathway right at the beginning that suddenly turned the whole game on its head, adding a ton of depth and storyline to a game that I thought was incredibly shallow. All the sudden, these extra pathways unlocked, and I realized that you would have to explore the game in multiple takes in order to see everything. The game, in turn, started unlocking all these little extras on the main screen, from versus fights to training rooms to an actual endings table that showed what I had gotten and with who, though it was up to me to decipher the shorthand and know what the table meant. There was a LOT to this game, and every playthrough, successful or otherwise, unlocked more and more for me to see. Additional costumes came fast and furious, I could even unlock bad guys to play as in the extra modes (no main game, sadly). Plus, the game eventually gives way to higher difficulties that feel like different games entirely, and even sped up gameplay for those who want to really challenge themselves. The bells and whistles are plentiful and make perfect sense on a game that you’re supposed to just buy once and then play for a long, long time.
The aesthetics of it all really do make Fight’N Rage work for newcomers and longtime fans of brawlers. The heavily pixel built characters are throwbacks to the NEOGEO and arcade days, including, again, ridiculously proportioned female characters alongside ridiculously proportioned male characters (rippling muscles, heaving bosoms, the whole thing). The dark and gritty landscape moving from destroyed cityscapes to burning forests and dank, underground tunnels, culminating in a lavish and clearly evil castles that are lit with sinister flames. You never get lost in the shadows, and even the darkest rooms still are clean enough to find yourself and avoid getting jumped without knowing what’s happening. Additionally, the entire soundtrack for the game is scored by Gonzalo Varela, who does a phenomenal job of capturing the passion and the energy of the fight through his music. Mixing a ton of heavy drumwork and shredding guitars, the score of Fight’N Rage is ballistic and driving, giving me chills and goosebumps as I thump my way across several stages of madness and insane (but not wanton) violence, and it’s absolutely perfect.
With the exception of a couple of small slowdown moments playing in handheld, Blitworks appears to have handled the porting of Fight’N Rage well, which is no small feat. This game takes a ton of information to process, with all the data regarding enemies, hit boxes, scoring, counters, damage, timing, and countless other points and trying to assess them all at once. This is one of those titles that is fun to behold when you first open it up and jaw dropping once you dive deeper and deeper into what’s at hand. If you enjoy arcade and action games, there’s no other choice, you need to add this to your collection. Just consider playing Ricardo, however: a ton of people are obsessed with playing Gal, and Ricardo needs some love too, ya’ll.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Fight'N Rage Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Replay Value - 9/10
User Review( votes)
Fight’N Rage took my expectations and shattered them with a well timed blow to the solar plexus, leaving me out of breath and hungry for more.