When you have a tried and tested genre like the scrolling beat em up you occasionally get teams who like to “spice” it up, NuChallenger, HurakanWorks have done such a thing and decided to spin kick the genre back to the NES with an interesting twist in Treachery in Beatdown City.
Treachery in Beatdown City asks the question “what if NES beat em ups had a RPG style combat system” coupled with a very self aware narrative and some very cheeky nods to pop culture and the state of modern society.
President Blake Orama has been kidnapped by the nation’s greatest threats the Dragon Ninjas, the chief of police calls a halt to all justice systems and begs the question are you and your crew “tuff e Nuff” to be the baddest dudes and save the president and find out what is corrupting the fine city known as Beatdown.
Lisa Santiago is working out at the local gym when this announcement goes down and after laying the Smackdown on a racist/misogynistic pig she meets up with Brad Steele the professional wrestler and Bruce Maxwell the Capoeira fighter as they answer the call to arms and deal with one hellova day.
The narrative in Treachery in Beatdown City is laden with references to wrestling culture such as “Steiner Maths” and Farooq’s DAMN food cart which avid wrestler fans will lap up amongst other references to gaming and pop culture, all while pointing out stuff such as modern day racial profiling and toxic attitudes throughout.
It’s awfully heavy for a NES throwback Beat em Up but fortunately it’s an entertaining and illuminating story which makes it all the shame that it ends rather abruptly, apparently there is a 2nd episode on the way as a free update and I for one cannot wait to see what further issues are tackled.
Graphically Treachery in Beatdown City looks like a very colourful NES game and is fully made up of those lovely lovely pixels, character animations are slightly smoother than what you would expect from the stock system but for the most part it nails the authentic look it was going for, bonus points for the attention to detail in the cutscenes.
The gameplay in Treachery in Beatdown City as mentioned previously fuses the scrolling beat em up genre with a combat system that wouldn’t be out of place in any classic RPG game, albeit with a real time twist.
You can freely switch characters on the map screen which is done like a linear world map style and see all your upcoming encounters, the only time this deviates is if the story is designed for a certain character otherwise it’s down to your choice who will throw down in each battle.
You can freely move around when in battle and while doing so you build up FP which allows you to do moves outside of the standard jabs from pressing attack, here you decide what attacks to do ranging from combo attacks to grappling and these can administer the genre standard status effects such as Blind or Bleeding.
FP is also used to defend yourself as well as administer the pain, your direction also factors into this so it’s a case of knowing when to spend or save FP, defend or counter and making sure you don’t get blindsided, all good fun for a while.
Yet due to the nature of having no exploration and the bones of a beat em up the entire game relies heavily on combat which at first is fun and engaging but much like the genre it’s mimicking can tend to set tedium in quite fast, there is enough room to explore all different techniques but that doesn’t ease off the tedium as much as I would have liked.
I loved spending time in Beatdown City and when I heard they were fusing the genre of beat em up with RPG I just had to take a look, it’s not for everyone and you’ll either lap it up or quit long before the cliffhanger ending comes to light, me personally? I can’t wait to see where episode 2 takes me, Knuckles up!.
A curious and witty experiment which will critical some and miss others
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Straight from the streets of SouthTown, all Dunks Powah'd and ready to Bust A Wolf. Catch me on Twitch/YouTube.