Verdict Guilty (Switch)
Verdict Guilty is a new release published by the team at Pixel Heart, hoping to recapture the days of 16 Bit fighting games with a rather unique premise: we see if this game is innocent or guilty as sin!.
Verdict Guilty was developed with the prime directive of inducing nostalgia of the 16-bit boom of 2D fighters such as Art of Fighting, Street Fighter 2 and Fatal Fury but rather than focusing on arcade style action, Verdict Guilty wants to remind players what the console scene was like, warts and all.
Visually Verdict Guilty has a charming but cheap art style, this is almost instant from the character select screen which looks very similar to Street Fighter 2 and has the map near enough directly ripped out of Final Fight!. It manages to capture that distinct look of 16-bit console fighters in titles such as Eternal Champions but manages to maintain a smooth 60fsp which is initially quite jarring but you soon succumb to its charms once the initial “WTF” moment passes.
Verdict Guilty puts you in control of a cast of characters divided by their stance on the law, ranging from Detectives and Traffic Cops to Gangsters and corrupt officials. You won’t be seeing many of the usual stereotypes here, instead it’s gritty cop drama at its finest. The character designs are actually really charming and as generic as they look, it follows the “Cops and Robbers” theme perfectly and presents a consistent look throughout, no stray Blanka style characters that stick out like a sore thumb here, you get the theme from stages all the way to the characters.
This isn’t to say you’ll miss the wackier side of the genre, despite how “normal” the characters look they all have quirks, you have a CIA agent with stretchy arms, a corrupt official with a briefcase full of weaponry and even a character who can send pigeons to attack you. It’s a safe assumption at least on your first play of Verdict Guilty that you’ll never quite know what abilities your foes will have.
The game has a really “Janky” feel to it, rather than the smooth feel of modern fighting games this feels much floatier and awkward but it works in the games favour providing it with a certain degree of charm when married up with the visual style. There aren’t overly complex combos to perform and fortunately the game provides you with the inputs for every special move when you pick the character.
One of the unique aspects to this system is the “cops” have the ability to handcuff opponents rendering their hands useless for a little while or if they have low enough health, ends the round and “Arrests” them, this felt like it was challenging me to arrest every character in my arcade run and I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the best moment to slap the cuffs on crime in each round.
The game has a load of different modes, an Arcade Mode and Training mode as standard, these are bolstered by a Story Mode which features an in depth story for each character and provides objectives for every fight and unlockable modes such as Duel Mode which is a “one hit kill” mode including a judge who looks like he’s just recently been watching Samurai showdown with each other.
It’s worth noting that from the get-go, Verdict Guilty is a budget title, commonly known as a “variety fighter” within the fighting game genre, yes it feels janky and features some interesting visuals and quirks but it’s riddled with alot of charm. Sadly it doesn’t have any online multiplayer so you’re restricted to fighting on the couch with this title, personally I would have loved to see the chaos of this title online but that’s possibly a suggestion for a sequel which I now so sorely need!.
Verdict Guilty is a cheap and cheerful game that reminds me of the plethora of Street Fighter clones you’d wade through back in the SNES and Mega Drive era, it’s not the next genre buster but more one for fans who want a break from the competitive e-sports consumed genre and just waste an hour playing an aggressive game of Cops and Robbers, also it has some cheeky guest fights with characters from Breakers who while aren’t playable (“Yet” by developers words). What felt like somewhat of a joke title turned out to be one of the most endearing fighting games I’ve played in a while with a surprising amount of content to boot, the Jury find this game GUILTY of being a whole lot of cheap fun.
A curiosity which is a whole lot of fun and one I’d love to see more of
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