I’m a huge fan of Streets of Rage and Double Dragon; they were amazing games back in the day! And whilst the beat-em-up genre continued to evolve, with the likes of Fighting Force or even Ehrgeiz, it never quite had the same magic as those 2D pixelated fight scenes in the SNES and MegaDrive classics.
However, there is now a Kickstarter project underway that seeks to change all of that, by bringing the genre back to basics. Ladies and gentleman, I give you Okinawa Rush!
With a style entirely reminiscent of the old SNES and MegaDrive beat-em-ups, Okinawa Rush tries to capture you on nostalgia and keep you based upon its gameplay.
Now, as it is still in development, I’ve only played the demo version, which does have a lot of content locked. However, based upon what is there, I am looking forward to getting my hands on the full game! With that said, shall we get on with the review?
Whilst I couldn’t really get much of a feel for the storyline from the demo, what I do know comes from the Okinawa Rush Kickstarter page.
In true retro gaming style, especially for the beat-em-up genre, the premise is easy to understand and gets you right in the mood for beating the living snot out of the many enemies.
In short, the main playable character is a man named Hiro Yashima. He has just returned home to find that his wife has been killed, his children are missing and a note was left in his wife’s bloodied hand. With this, he sets off on an adventure, ready to pummel all who stand in his way.
As I said, the plot is easy to get into, and puts you right in the mood for the type of game you’re about to play. So, based on that alone, I am impressed and intrigued to find out the rest. As a fan of martial arts movies, this plotline is right up my street!
Ok, so this is where classic games like Streets of Rage really made their mark. With (at the time) slick combat and diverse fights, they could rely on their gameplay, even if their graphics hadn’t been amazing at the time. Okinawa Rush is the same.
Again, I have only played the demo, but the combat feels really fresh and well put together. The ability to parry pretty much any attack by pressing the right direction button at the correct time makes the game more intense. Especially since you may be in the middle of a combo, so you need to time everything. You need to strategise! And that just makes each fight all the more interesting.
Add to this the fact that the training sequences used to make you stronger are done through a button sequence, similar to the old dance games, and you have a very interesting mix of gameplay styles that don’t sound like they should work together, but somehow do.
The only complain I have is that, at least in the demo that I played, sometimes pressing Return on the menu wouldn’t register, so I had to switch between that and CTRL (I think) to get through the menu. But, once you are in the game, where it is most important, this sort of issue has yet to reveal itself. So, it really doesn’t take away from the gameplay as a whole.
Now, capturing the look and feel of late 80s and early 90s games can be really hard. It isn’t as simple as making 16-bit sprites… You have to get everything to come together and sit right with each other. It is far too common to see a mixture of such varying art styles when a game wants to look “retro”.
The artists and developers of Okinawa Rush have managed to avoid that scenario by carefully creating stage designs that not only fit with the character models, but compliment them as well.
The character models feel like they were taken straight from the SNES, and the backgrounds are beautifully designed to accentuate the game’s overall graphical style. All in all, the developers have managed to capture exactly what was needed to make me feel like I am playing a true, old-school beat-em-up.
And can we all just take a second to admire how much gore the developers managed to fit into game.
And That’s All Folks
If you’re a fan of the old school sidescrolling beat-em-ups, then Okinawa Rush is for you. As mentioned, it is a kickstarter project that is still in development. However, if the finished product is half as good as the demo, we’ve still got a real legend of a game in Okinawa Rush. I would definitely recommend checking out their Kickstarter page to get a bit more information, and also download the demo here and see for yourself.
Have you ever played a beat-em-up? Does the sound of a truly retro style game sound good to you? Let me know in the comments below!