Beat-em-up fans are like addicts cluttering up the mean streets of an '80s New York, willing to shoot themselves up with almost anything resembling the belt-scrolling boom that swept arcades in the early '90s.
Whether pink-mohawked punk or run-of-the-mill gamer, if you’re still experiencing withdrawals despite the genre’s recent resurgence with Streets of Rage 4 and River City Girls, Final Vendetta promises to give you your fix.
Featuring three characters with varying skills and abilities, Bitmap Bureau’s latest is a love letter to the games it references so heavily. One or two players can battle in tandem through dirty subways, littered streets, and a throng of tribal gang miscreants emerging from oil-sticky brickwork and dirt-encrusted enclaves.
Featuring design motifs that refuse to quit, Final Vendetta’s aesthetic is firmly attached to the days when Schwarzenegger still headlined the local picture house and Reaganomics fuelled America’s mass unemployment: a glorious backdrop for a bit of vigilantism through a string of dilapidated public locales. The only difference here, is that these crime-ridden inner-city strongholds aren’t set in New York, but in London. Being that Bitmap Bureau hail from the UK, we expect to see backdrops that include random fried chicken shops, homeless people squatting at ATM cashpoints, and at least one sign telling you that a bus replacement service is in operation due to a signal failure on the Circle Line.
In keeping with modern 2D titles, we can confirm that the game has a CRT filter onboard, ensuring its plush pixel art can be elevated by scanlines, if so desired. Additionally, Final Vendetta features a cooldown combo counter, several special attacks for each character, and a move-set broad enough to offer a good variety of combat mix-ups; our personal favourite being kicking the hell out of downed opponents while they lie sprawled at your feet.
And, if you’re feeling peckish, chicken in dustbins, pizzas laid out on concrete, and foodstuffs locked inside oil drums are all present and correct. A nice Anglo-centric bonus comes in the form of smashing traditional red English phone booths to a pulp — no doubt cathartic for anyone who once-upon-a-time had their pound coins eaten by British Telecom’s regularly malfunctioning machines.
The audio benchmark set by Streets of Rage’s hard techno is also paid tribute, with Final Vendetta sporting thumping house themes and a smattering of drum and bass — a criminally underused but totally appropriate choice for a game that features a tempo of thundering fists. Additionally, if you needed it any more old-school, the soundtrack (see the video below for a preview) features brand new tracks from none other than Utah Saints, a prominent fixture of the '90s UK dance scene.
With three difficulty settings, a cluster of unlockable secrets, and game modes that include Arcade, Survival, Boss Rush and Versus options, the package seems well-equipped to satiate people who thirst for Capcom’s halcyon days and still live and breathe the Mega Drive like it was 1992 (us, basically).
Developers Bitmap Bureau — better known for the Smash TV-inspired Xeno Crisis — know their 2D gaming well. Hopefully they will be able to deliver the face-cracking goods when Final Vendetta pounds its way onto Nintendo’s Switch mid-June, and do the genre the kind of justice we’re all looking forward to dishing out.