POW! Fans of Downtown Nekketsu/River City Ransom and other beat ’em up classics have a new game to kick sand in their faces in the form of Radical Heroes: Crimson City Crisis, currently in Early Access on Steam and worth every dime. Brought to you by Mad Unicorn Games (aka, the VERY talented Moses and Noah Doyle) and Apogee Software (yeah, THAT Apogee!), the game takes the old sprite-packed beat ’em up into the 21st century with dazzling, colorful pixel art that makes for environments that pop off the screen.
The enemies you deliver beat downs to pop off the screen as well, but that’s because you’ll be the one sending them onto that parking orbit with your avatar’s fists and feet. POW!
Right away, the visual style is striking (ha!) and yes, the great music also hits the appropriately retro/modern heights you’d expect. Gameplay is simple thus far, but as an example of what’s to come, it’s great to see stuff come together so well. One REALLY awesome thing is the “Playset” feature where you unlock new characters and maps by finding action figures hidden off the beaten path (oh, the puns are too easy!) or in plain sight, but usually after a bit of combat.
In addition to fists and feet, there are items to pick up and use, weapons to buy, and even a “bear” (or something that looks like one) to ride (and, YES, it needs to be able to attack enemies in the final game). You also have to love a game that has a power-up that slows time down and applies a temporary Game Boy effect filter while you knock the digital stuffing out of anyone in range. The game could use a scaling, transparent map for those who need one and sure, a few tough gal Radical Heroes would be a keen addition as well.
Maps are open, somewhat sprawling and yes, filled with assorted enemy types all looking for a fight. Fortunately, you can hire cops as bodyguards, buy weapons and upgrades, or just test your skills by not using accumulated points when you level up and just going for the gold as if you’re playing a straight up arcade game. I liked the game so much that I posted almost twenty minutes worth of screenshots on YouTube. No, there’s no music in that gallery, mostly because of YT’s awful copyright strike nonsense and partly because I want YOU to slap on 20 minutes of your favorite 80’s tunes and enjoy the sights of Crimson City to your choice of sounds.
So far, Radical Heroes: Crimson City Crisis has enough going for it that’s it’s going to be an immediate buy for old-school to current gamers looking to recapture those NES glory days in a more chaotic and kinetic form. Multiplayer is supported, as is VR, but as I’m lonely and cheap, so I’ve yet to test those functions out. That said, my eyeballs are locked in and following this one, so expect a full-on review once that 100% final version gets ready for its close-up.
Preview code provided by the publisher