There was many a night when I spent hours on end, basking in the glow of a 15” telly, furiously tapping away on a Megadrive gamepad. My friends and I were obsessed with Streets of Rage and its sequels, and although the second instalment of that franchise was as good as it was going to get, it still holds a place in my heart. Games like Double Dragon and Final Fight had a simple premise: fight your way from left to right until every enemy has vanished from the screen. Rinse and repeat until you save the girl. Those were the days.
AGO Games agree with me on that, so they decided to pay homage to that golden age of brawlers and made The Asskickers. You start off by selecting one of three characters: Alex, Diane or Marcus. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter which one you pick, they pretty much all play the same. The character finds himself in the master’s Dojo, which gets attacked by some unruly frat boys. You then head off after the ringleader, in order to give him an ass kicking.
Really, you do. At the end of the level, after you have defeated the boss, you have about eight seconds to press the attack button as fast as you can, while you character delivers an actual ass kicking/ass slapping. It’s slightly weird. Over the course of six levels, you will attempt to bring down the source of the city’s corruption.
Each character has one attack combo and two special moves, plus a jump button. You can also grab enemies if you get really close to them. The lack of combos and interesting moves is a real let down here; you can’t even grab an enemy and throw him or do a pile driver. You just grab him and punch/slap/headbutt them. There is also an issue with the controls themselves. Half the time my character insisted on punching away from the enemy, instead of at them, which is fine if another frat boy happens to be behind you at the time, otherwise it is just annoying.
The special moves are also very hard to pull off; for one of them you are meant to tap the direction button twice and press the attack button, but this seldom works. The other relies on you holding down the attack button down for about five seconds. This is useless, especially in the harder settings, as you never get five seconds between being hit. Using special moves requires energy; you have a second bar below your health that represents how much you have. This bar will fill over time or if you collect energy drinks. As is standard with this type of game, you can destroy certain objects and they will reveal either food for your health, drinks for energy or just collectable trophies.
The game can be played solo or with a second player and has gamepad functionality. There are also two other modes available: Survival and Time Attack mode. Both of those are self explanatory.
Unfortunately, the game has little to offer. With its dodgy controls and dull combat, it is hard to recommend this game to anybody, even a real retro brawler fan. The game does have a nice look to it, but that doesn’t make up for the game’s glitches (several times I walked off the side of the screen, never to be seen again) and the poor way that the game’s text is presented. In my opinion, you would be better of spending your money on the XBLA version of Streets of Rage 2.
Review copy provided by publisher.