Played on the Nintendo Switch
Developed by Makin’ Games
Published by Team17
Every beat ’em up comes down to punching and kicking your way through thousands of people. Then at the end of the stage there’s a giant boss waiting for you. That’s the challenge of every beat ’em up, but there is always a hidden enemy lurking. One that will end your game just as fast as a power outage. After playing a few levels of any side-scrolling romp you will feel the excitement lessen. You may find the thoughts of your daily grind creeping into the forefront of your mind. That’s when she strikes, the beast beneath the surface: it’s boredom. Boredom is the joker to the beat ’em up’s Batman. And just as tricky to deal with.
Raging Justice is a modern beat ’em up. It finds itself in a once glorious genre that evolution has passed by. New gamers may not find the joy in moving right while fighting a countless group of enemies. Regardless if you’re an old school gamer or one of a new generation, boredom will use a beat ’em up to invade your life. How does Raging Justice protect you against such a real life foe?
Gameplay and Controls
The game follows the traditional route to a science: you clear the screen of enemies then the word “go” will flash in the corner. You scroll right until a new crop of cronies appear until you reach the boss. The game uses all four buttons on the Switch. Y is punch, X is kick, B is jump, and A is a multipurpose button. A is used to perform a grab. If you’ve ever played a 90s beat ’em up you’ll remember how the grab was coupled with an attack button to do a grapple move. Raging Justice has that, but instead of touching the bad guy to initiate a grab, you have to press A. The same button is also used to pick up a weapon, to use the weapon another button is used. The constant switching of buttons can pose a problem at first. It’s awkward, but after some time you will get the hang of it. Pressing B also allows you to make arrests. More on that later. Double tapping up or down on the thumbstick will perform a dodge in the respective direction. Double tapping right or left will do a dash. The dash will be the most useful move in your arsenal. It will come in handy when you get overrun. The game will tell you that there’s a special move. You have to press X and Y at the same time. Pressing those two buttons at once isn’t easy, so use ZR instead. Using the special will sap your health bar, as per tradition.
Of course there’s a jump kick, and a jump punch move too. When an enemy falls to the ground, some ground ‘n pound moves can be done. Think head stomps and kidney punches. It’s something not seen in many beat ‘em ups. So, it’s clear that there are millions of ways to beat someone up. Boredom doesn’t like that. You will find yourself discovering new ways to string attacks together the more you play the game.
Since the main characters are cops, you will have to ability to arrest the criminals that are dazed. Each bad guy has two bars: one is health, the second is an arrest meter. After a successful take down, the perp will drop some food. Food gives you health, as per tradition. If you want to take justice into your own hands then feel free to go nuts, skip the arrest. The game will call you a bad cop, and if you continue that behavior you’re rewarded with a shot gun. For a limited time.
Every beat ‘em up in history－almost－will have you saving someone. Most times it’s a girlfriend. In Raging Justice, you’ll be saving the mayor. The mayor has been taken after his crummy town has been invaded with psychopaths. It’s a perfectly acceptable plot line for a beat ‘em up. There are cutscenes that help move along the simple story. A twist at the end provides a nice payoff if you chose to pay attention to the drama. No one has ever played a beat ‘em up for the story, so skip it.
Nothing state of the art in the way the game looks. The graphics are simple and fitting for a beat ‘em up though. The colors are nice; the backgrounds are detailed and interesting. There is usually movement behind the mayhem.
The detail of the playable characters are well done. As are the enemies, but they are limited in variety. Seeing the same bad guys over and over does open the cracks for boredom to seep in. The game will allow a ton of enemies on screen at once, to the point that I lost track of my character many times.
The music in the game is nothing spectacular. The tunes won’t be stuck in your head, and you won’t find yourself whistling them at work. But, the soundtrack does add to the atmosphere of the game. There’s a circus themed stage and the clown music is a nice touch. The sounds of the punches and kicks hitting the enemies are spot on. The stab sound of the knife is gruesome. The crack of the bat is authentic, and addictive. The sound effects in Raging Justice are great.
The best part of every beat ‘em up is the thrill of mowing down many enemies. In some games when you hit the bad guys they fall to the ground with little reaction. There’s a sick satisfaction in seeing the enemies in a beat ‘em up feel pain, and Raging Justice pulls if off beautifully. You’ll feel like your beating someone up. Stabbing the guy who tosses dynamite at you will make you feel bad for the dude. For a half second. Hitting someone with the baseball bat will bring the bloodlust out of the most timid of people. No other game in the storied genre does what this one does: lets you ride a lawn mower, you can literally mow down the enemy!
This is where the game loses points. Raging Justice doesn’t do a lot to keep you playing. Money is collected throughout the game, but it’s not used for anything except keeping score. Getting a high score is the only reward Raging Justice has to offer. Not since the Atari days has anyone bragged about a high score. The game has a built in checklist of challenges, completing them provides nothing but a satisfaction of achieving something. The feeling doesn’t last.
Boredom won’t completely overtake you once you’ve finished the game: there are some organic ways the game might bring you back for a second play through. Each of the three characters are vastly different. Playing the game with each one does provide a bit more depth. Raging Justice can also be played with 2 players on the road. Pop those Joy Cons off the sides of your Switch and give one to a pal.
Seasoned fans of classic beat ‘em ups will enjoy Raging Justice for as long as their thumbs will allow them to. If you’re new to the genre than worry not, Raging Justice is a fine introduction to this style of gaming. The controls will seem a bit overwhelming at first, but you will get used to it. The hardest obstacle to overcome in any beat ‘em up is boredom. Raging Justice picks up that baseball bat and splats your boredom all over the wall. But, after that end boss hits the dirt there isn’t much to come back to.
6.5/10 – When compared to all games on the Switch.
8/10 – When compared to all beat ‘em ups.
The game is worth your money and time. If you like Streets of Rage, Final Fight, and Golden Axe, you will like Raging Justice.