Fight N Rage is a wonderful throwback to everything I love about 2D side scrolling beat em ups. The sidescroller has had a bit of a weird few years recently. Whilst plenty of games for the genre are made all the time, they often feel cheap and repetitive. Fight N Rage refuses to go down that route and is a real star of the genre.
Taking inspiration (not just in its name) from Final Fight and Streets of Rage, you’ll start out with one of three characters to choose from. Each one has its own style and that bears out in the combo system but the game doesn’t really show you how it works initially. You’ll dive into arcade mode and perhaps like me, you’ll be ready to button mash. You’ll soon be flattened by the overwhelm of enemies and sent back to the menu screen. It didn’t make a strong first impression but when I unlocked practice mode and actually visited it, that was when Fight N Rage clicked into place.
Outside of button combos there is a timing element to things too. The game doesn’t rely on just a two or three button combo, you’ll have throws, special moves and dashes all thrown in and you can mix and match combos up to command your fighting prowess. It takes a while to get the hang of but with experience comes flair and the game rewards you for it.
Once back in arcade mode, you’ll soon realise that many levels offer branching paths. You don’t need to keep walking right, you can go left too and experience totally different backgrounds, music, enemies and story. It makes the arcade portion of the game involving and addictive because there are over 50 endings to find if you want them. They are based on your performances and choices so experimentation is key. It is just as well there is plenty to find because the game hands out poultry currency for upgrades and unlocks.
Much of the game is unlocked from the off. You can unlock plenty of other character bios, weapons, new moves, soundtrack player and things to use in the multiplayer battle modes. Fight N Rage has a ton of things to offer you but it will make you grind for it. The game is difficult as it is so you’ll need to invest a fair chunk of time to see most of the game. That is not necessarily a bad thing – a game should have staying power. It is just that I feel Fight N Rage makes you grind slightly too much too early on and if you aren’t gelling with the difficulty curve at the start, it doesn’t give the game a great early impression.
Which is funny because once I pushed through that initial barrier, the game flowed superbly. I was rewarded with plenty of combos, flashy graphics, an amazing chip-rock soundtrack and so much fun in the multiplayer brawling modes. The fun just kept on coming. I was also thankful for the ability to turn off all the CRT and retro effect options so I could appreciate the details sprites and backgrounds.
Fight N Rage is a loving homage to all the things great from the early 90’s. That includes plenty of three player modes that allow you attack arcade modes in co-op where special moves reward players who know what they are doing. If not, the battle modes against each other are great fun for mindless button mashing too. Whilst the game expects and demands your finesse, it rewards you with one of the deepest and most satisfying 2D brawler games I’ve played for many years.