Jitsu Squad (Switch)

2022 has been a stellar year for the beat ’em up genre in general, Sifu kicked the year off, and the pure nostalgia trip of TMNT Shredders Revenge, aswell as Midnight Fight Express, Final Vendetta, and the fantastic River City Girls 2. There’s so many more to mention too. I digress, we’ll today be looking at Tanuki Creative Studio’s Jitsu Squad, a 2d brawler that originally hit Steam in March 2022, now 9 months later it’s dropping on console. Let’s see how it’s fared on the Switch.

Jitsu squad are in trouble guys, the evil Wizard Origami has kidnapped owl monk Ramen and it’s up to the Jitsu Squad to save the day. We’re treated to a pretty basic yet beautifully presented story, with animation and some voice acting to go with it. It’s simple yet it works perfectly fine. Each level in the game has a small bit of dialogue to help with some exposition, these usually include each of the squad having some lines of text each, which can be charming and is stuffed full of references to other media (usually another 2d beat ’em up). The game absolutely wears it’s influences on it’s sleeve, and it’s super proud to be following in their footsteps.

Like mentioned presentation for this smaller indie title is top tier. The hand drawn style is superb, animation is really nice, and each enemy feels nice and fresh. You’ll be fighting each of these a lot and the game’s more than happy to throw more and more different unique enemies. Some of these enemies can be locked to the certain levels, but late game you’ll see most of these again in some form. This gives some good variety and skill required to get the job done, luckily the combat is spot on (more on that later). Each level you venture through like most games of this ilk has a unique feel, you’ll be fighting through the reeds and bamboo in Sakura Hills, fighting through pirate ships, trains and loads of other lands, each of these is fully unique with lots of background detail and a lack of rehashed assets. Levels also have variety in what how they play also with each level having a challenging boss fight, there’s a few auto scrolling levels on vehicles, and every few levels you’ll be treated to a bonus stage.

The game isn’t too challenging, I got through most of the game on medium with no real issues, yeah I used a few continues to get me through, but better players could get through without using any. As per most beat ’em ups each level obviously get more difficult as you go through, most bosses you’ll be able to defeat without any major difficulty but there’s some spikes here and there. There’s also 3 difficulty settings, and each has unlimited continues so if you want to persevere on your hard mode despite getting battered a bit, you’re more than welcome too.

Performance is mostly excellent here, the Switch handles most things thrown at it, my only gripe was one specific level where due to the nature of the scene movement gameplay was very slow, hopefully this will be fixed in a future patch. I always play undocked also, and again I saw no major issues.

Gameplay is top notch here, Jitsu Squad controls more like a 2D fighter as opposed to a normal beat ’em up, combos are hugely encouraged and some will even hit 3 digits, and the more you play, you’ll unlock more powerful and deadly special moves. Other fighting game staples are here too, grabs, parries and counters are all here, and none feel tacked on, they all have their uses in the game so you’ve a full arsenal at your disposal. There’s also alternative weapons to use in game, as well as summons (with some cool cameos) and a Fury Charge which is similar to a limit break, but your character will transform into a stronger version of themselves each character has one unique to themselves.

Each character also has a unique play style, with Hero playing like a more traditional fighter, Baby a projectile expert, Jazz a mid range weapon toad, and finally Aros who feels more like Haggar than anything else ever. Luckily all these play as well as each other, however my only caveat is that as far as I could see, we weren’t able to get any additional characters, there’s at least 3 other characters in the story I could see as potentially being playable but alas I didn’t find a way to unlock anyone else. My only issue were some cheap enemy attacks, where you’ll be continuously juggled for a small set of time, this can mostly be put on to one or two enemies, but also some bosses are able to do that too.

Music is really fun, and each level has it’s own audio, these are all mostly fast and exciting songs you’d hear from a modern action cartoon, again these totally fit in with the games style, and again are all absolute jams. I loved the track on the lava auto scroller level which literally tells you exactly what you’re doing.

I was really sceptical about playing Jitsu Squad, but within the first few levels I wanted to get right through it, it never really outstayed it’s welcome. Combat feels beefier than a lot of it’s compadres, with a strong visual style. Despite the flooded market, Jitsu Squad should have a prominent space in your library. Dunk’s loving River City Girls 2 at time of writing this, and I loved TMNT: Shredders Revenge earlier this year, yet I think Jitsu Squad is what I’d rather play.



my favourite beat ’em up this year

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