If there is one thing that needs resurgence, it’s the side scrolling brawlers from yesteryear. While we are arguably in a renaissance whereIf there is one thing that needs resurgence, it’s the side scrolling brawlers from yesteryear. While we are arguably in a renaissance where the genre is making a comeback, few releases have sparked the same level of interest as Double Dragon or Streets of Rage did in the past. I’m happy to report that Dusty Raging Fist, a prequel for the titular character I have never heard of prior to this, is a step in the right direction.
The game features a rather lengthy campaign, with scripted segments added throughout to provide the player with backstory; while funny to read aloud in strange voices to my son that joined me on this adventure, it’s laughable at best. The devs try to make the best of the story situation, but it is pretty awful and very forgettable. Having played this just yesterday, I can only remember bits and pieces. Since this is the case with most brawlers, we’re going to let it slide.
You’ll be selecting one of three characters and setting off to battle evil, solo or with up to 2 friends via couch co-op. The game is a sidescroller with some vehicular combat segments to break up the monotony, which sets in pretty early. While combat is solid, the restriction to a single 2D plane makes the title feel a bit simplistic, as the design takes more cues from Guardian Heroes than older beat ‘em ups that feature the option of moving up or down within the levels. Additionally, platforming is more of a thing than it should be, as moving left to right, as well as the jump button is unresponsive on occasion. The combat is where the true depth and fun comes into play, as the fighting mechanics have more in common with Devil May Cry or older iterations of the God of War franchise. There is some light puzzle work that becomes necessary late into the game, but it is mainly just switching between elemental damages and attacking a static item until it moves.
After completing a few levels you’ll unlock additional combos or attacks that can be upgraded by spending XP. Sadly, you cannot see what the upgrade will do, as there is no preview option and the upgrade screen itself is pretty barebones and again, reminded me of the same one from the older God of War titles. Additionally, I’ve had issues with the game saving my upgrades, as a number of them have been reverted back, often during the same play session with no obvious reason being present. In addition to the standard light, heavy, and ranged attacks, you’ll be able to call in support from a sniper, artillery strike, or select a god of sorts to call in for assistance, as well as add elemental effects to your attacks. Each of these support characters can be upgraded using the same system, from the same XP pool.
The visuals are a treat, featuring a respectable number of character models. While I was a bit disappointed by the number of playable characters, the varied enemies certainly make up for it. I noticed a number of characters appear to be homages to other noteworthy series, however, I may just be making connections that are not there. I will say it’s hard to look at Dusty with his red and black attire and dual pistols without thinking of Dante from the Devil May Cry franchise. The same can be said for Darg who appears to be a tribute to Kratos, with his pale face and signature red tattoos. My son drew a number of the same conclusions, quickly pointing out an enemy that looked extremely similar to Bebop from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame. The absence of palette swapped enemies was a refreshing change that I’d love to see more of when it comes to this style of games.
The same attention to detail was put into the level designs, which are well animated and often have moving bits and pieces in the foreground, which really add a layer of immersion that is rarely seen in this genre as of late. The designs are varied enough to keep the visuals from getting stale and have hidden paths that will often hold treasure chests that provide much needed health, XP caches, and permanent upgrades present for completionists. The overall game gets a bit repetitive, but the individual levels are short enough that you are rarely stuck mid mission when needing to break.
While I don’t see people looking back on this title 20 years from now with the same nostalgia that I have for Streets of Rage or other related titles, I enjoyed my time spent with the game and will definitely keep future entries in mind when looking for something to spend quality time with my son on.… Expand