Raging Justice: Justice served on a nostalgia platter.
















Are you a bad enough dude to play another beat'em up?




Back in the early nineties, arcades were still thriving and the beat’em up genre was in its glory days. "Raging Justice" aims to bring back those days without the smoke filled rooms, neon arcade lights and the need to bring a pocket full of quarters. Does it do enough to satisfy that nostalgia craving, bring something new to the genre, or is it destined for the dark dusty corners of forgotten games?


What is it?

Raging Justice is a side scrolling beat'em up made by MakinGames, published by Team17, in the vein of those early nineties games such as Final Fight, Streets of Rage, Double Dragon, etc. You play as one of three characters, each a member of a special police task force as you try to clean the streets from thugs that have been terrorizing the city and have kidnapped the mayor. As you move through the levels, you will encounter wave after wave of enemies and you can use a variety of weapons, as well as the environment to dispose of them. 


Gameplay

The levels are 2D environments in which you move from left to right towards your goal. You defeat a variety of enemies, which come at you in waves with an end boss at the end of each level. As you move across, you can also move up and down the different lanes of the screen in order to either line up with an enemy or to avoid their attack. A quick double tap on the D-pad up or down will have you quick hop out of the way. You have jump, punch and a kick attack. Combine both of those for a special punishing attack, however it will drain a good portion of your health in order to discourage you from using it all the time. The last button is used for a variety of things from picking up weapons to body slamming thugs and arrest them when they are stunned. When holding an item, you can attack with it using your punch button or throw it at someone using the kick button. 

As it goes with this style of games, you will face a punishing matchup often created by the sheer number of enemies that do their best to take you down. This can result in some frustration at times when you get knocked down and keep being taken down basically getting stuck in a loop.

Talking about punishment, the difficulty ratings are much higher then you would expect. Picking the middle option, the enemies were not playing around and I quickly lost out even in the earlier levels. At anytime you can have a buddy jump in and help you out, which in my opinion it is the most fun way to play the game. It also makes the game much easier, although by default "friendly fire" is on so you can damage each other. With this option turned off you still end up hitting and interrupting each other but it won't do damage and can lead to hilarious and also frustrating moments. Often we would attack each other thinking the other was a baddie or just by accident when we were all mixed up in a heap of enemies.  

Unlike the arcades, when you lose all your lives you can continue the game by simply selecting yes. Keep in mind that you have a limited amount of continues, so tread carefully or you still wont make it to the end of the game. The continues are shared when you are playing co-op making this go twice as fast. 

Raging Justice comes with a few added features trying to add something fresh to the genre but the execution does not always work out to achieve what it sets out to do. For instance the good cop, bad cop additions brings the option to either arrest or eliminate an enemy that is stunned. If you arrest them they give you health items or in some cases extra lives, when you take them out you get money (points). The problem is that because you use the same button you use for so many other options that it is sometimes hard to execute the move causing some frustrating. Another added feature is a list of goals or achievements for each level such as don't use a life or finish the level under a certain time, which due to the nature of the gameplay and the difficulty are almost impossible to all achieve. But they are not a requirement to finish the level or the game, so only completionists will be bothered by this.

Presentation
MakinGames clearly sets out to deliver a genuine experience out the gate. From the simple 'stop the thugs and rescue the mayor' comic books style story presentation, to pre-rendered 3D characters on a beautiful 2D backdrop. It even has plenty on screen prompts that echo the old  bad Japanese to  english translations from back in the day. 
During the length of the game, we hit all the cliche moments so prevalent in nineties action movies and video games. From at time sluggish controls and screen stutters while a lot happens on screen at once and I like to believe it was a design choice.The question remains if keeping the bad parts in this type of game was a good decision. I guess that depends on how authentic you would like your experience to be. 

The common enemies in the game range from fun to uninspired at times with hints of inspiration from the classics, but their random names are more then awesome either way and good for a few giggles. The boss characters on the contrary are very good and the game ends with one of the craziest designs that I can remember. The sound effects work very well and seem to be a right fit in for the era from when these type of games were popular. And it features a descent soundtrack that does not get too repetitive. Side scrolling brawlers were never long games and at just nine levels long you can complete this game in about 3-5 hours. Especially when playing in co-op the game is not very long, but the added achievement and difficulty modes can extend the game somewhat. If you feel extra adventurous, you can also play brawl mode, which gives you one life and an endless horde of enemies to survive as long as possible. 

Even though the levels bring a descent variety of locations with some scenery interaction, I personally wish there would have been some levels that took place on some moving platform such as a train or hovercraft etc. Who knows maybe we will get to see this in a future DLC or follow-up game? 


Parent Recommendation

ESRB is Teen for use of Tobacco and obviously violence but the game does not have any blood or gore. The difficulty of the game can be frustrating for casual or younger gamers but playing in co-op brings a fun experience where you can help those who might have some trouble with the game. For teens the game works well and the mechanics are not difficult. Even though the old school feel might be a bit frustrating, the fun that comes from this type of game easily crosses generational boundaries at our household. And can we really ever be discouraged by games bringing local couch co-op?

Overall Recommendation

Raging Justice sets out to bring an authentic brawler experience to its audience and it largely succeeds. It knows what it is and what it is not. It lets it's players experience every moment of it, both what made the genre great and what was frustrating about it. But it is by no means perfect, the added features, though fun ideas, do not always translate in a smooth experience. If you know coming in what the game is about you will have a fun time, if you expect a full on modern take on the genre then this game is not for you.
Coming from an old arcade junkie with a big soft spot in his heart for these games I will say the game is a lot of fun with great co-op play and at its price it can be a entertaining weekend distraction especially during it's opening week sales team. 



"Raging Justice" is available now on all systems  £9.99/€12.99/$14.99 with a 10% discount during launch week.
Game Information:
Title: Raging Justice
Developer: MakinGames
Publisher: Team17
Release date: May 08 , 2018
Platforms: XBOX one, Nintendo Switch , SONY Playstation 4 and STEAM
Version reviewed: STEAM

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