Updated: Mar 4
Taking a trip down memory lane does Fight'n Rage still hold up as a hidden gem in gaming?
When someone mentions the Beat’em up genre, what titles pop up in your mind? Those of a certain age probably said Double Dragon, Battletoads, or maybe even Final Fight. The concept is simple, you, maybe with some friends, pick up the controller and just fight enemy hordes. Many gamers consider the 90s to be the "Golden Era" of gaming, and Beat'em ups were among the most prolific. With this in mind, two men from Uganda set out to release Fight'n Rage in late 2017, an homage to those prolific titles from yesteryear.
I am not even sure where, to begin with, this review. Please do not take that as I hated playing this title, quite the opposite, in fact. No, my problem lies in trying to explain this to you in a compelling 5 minute read without making your head explode from the sheer insanity and just the right amount of stupidity to make this title so enjoyable. I suppose we can start off with the plot, which is about a mutant but actually anthropomorphic animal uprising. You play one of three characters trying to save the world, and that's it. Your three protagonists consist of F.Norris (who is a play off of Chuck Norris), Gal (A play off of Final Fight's Guy), and Ricardo, who is a mutant that isn’t a jerk.
I have yet to beat this title, but I am currently on stage eight. I have noticed several alternate routes I could have taken, which instantly gives it replay value in possibly one of the easiest and most effective ways. And while we are on the subject of replay value, Fight'n Rage comes with quite a bit to unlock. Character skins, music, and extra game modes, just to name a few. You earn coins through gameplay, and it's a pretty simple system to understand. Even a feature allows you to pick up where you left off, provided you pick the same character and difficulty setting. I admit, they could have put in a save slot feature like Double Dragon Neon, which was released that year, but a single limited slot adds to the nostalgia in a sense.
Speaking of characters, let's move on to enemies. This is where things get kind of silly ridiculous to the point that The Battletoads would be embarrassed. The first boss I fought was M.Bison as a cat who shot a woman in cold blood. You also have to deal with hordes of rats trying to shank you, cats who emulate Blanka, flies that can box, Samurai Showdown's Genan reincarnated as a fat cat, karate wolfmen, kickboxing birds, monkeys dressed in Bruce Lee’s yellow outfit, and a host of iconic beat'em up enemies but in furry mode. The boss battles are manageable for the most part, though to be fair, I am playing on the standard difficulty.
In terms of the gameplay itself, it really does emulate its predecessors, for better or for worse. While this game does feel like a beat'em up, it boasts to feel like an arcade version when it feels more like a console title. A large part of it is because while you can continue as many times as you like, you will always start at the beginning of the level, thus taking away from the quarter-eating design the arcades are so famous for. Of course, this means that Fight'n Rage has all the good and bad of a 90's console beat'em up. There are points where the screen is more or less filled with enemies, and the fact that most of them are bigger than you, it is way too easy to get lost in a dog pile. I was also introduced to an old annoyance of mine, the enemies walking off-screen. The combos are simple and easy to remember and can feel downright nostalgic to the older generation of gamers. Unfortunately, this has the same problem that most iconic titles had in this genre. The constant pressing of a button can feel repetitive.
The stages themselves look pretty awesome, in my opinion. Still, the music feels like it jumps across all types of genres. A fair amount of the tracks have a bit of a metal vibe to them, which can feel out The majority of the soundtrack has a metal vibe, so it can feel a bit out of place when you are in a forest during the dead of night. The beach-level music reminded me of a live-action scene from the Adult Swim show Harvey Birdman and is filled with ninjas that could have felt more in place at the forest level. To be honest, most of the music didn't really appeal to me, but stage 7 had that perfect combination. Those who play beat'em up regularly know what I’m talking about, that one stage that has the perfect music, enemies, and background that make you want to play over and over again.
As stated earlier, I have yet to beat Fight'n Rage, but I did learn about some of the extra modes. So far, I have found a survival mode, a training mode, and a battle mode, to name a few. You can do the battle mode with a friend or the computer, and the entire roster is up for selection after you unlock each character. Speaking of unlockable content, I should point out you need both coins and to reach certain milestones to unlock everything, so be prepared to log in quite a bit of time. On the plus side, I know this title supports up to three-player co-op, so grab some friends and let the fists fly.
After playing this title for a couple of days, I would give this title a 9 out of 10. It may have its issues, but these are the same problems many of our favorite titles have had over the years. Because of this, you could probably convince someone that this was, in fact, a true retro title despite being released in the 2010s.