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The Asskickers

The Asskickers

Platform: PC Games
Category: Action Games, Fighting

If you're looking for an old fashioned beat 'em up, then The Asskickers, provided to me by AGO Games, might fit the bill. This is the first game by this French, indie developer. It has a retro look and very challenging gameplay that fans of scrolling beat 'em ups from the Arcade and 16-bit days will find familiar, but it does have some bugs as well. I'm a big fan of this genre, so when I first heard about the game, I was looking forward to jumping into it.

Besides four directional movement, three buttons are used to control the character - 'jump,' 'attack,' and 'use.' Most of the time you'll only be using 'jump' and 'attack,' but the 'use' button is needed to open doors or pick up weapons and food. The Asskickers features four difficulties, and I played mostly on the easiest difficulty because, well, even that was pretty challenging for me. The two player co-op makes the game much easier, but it's still a difficult game.

Many levels introduce new challenges unique to that level. For example, one level placed me on top of a train, and I had to dodge signs. In another level, there were spotlights searching the grounds that I had to avoid. Every type of enemy moves differently and uses a different pattern. Learning those patterns and how to overcome them is the key to doing well. It's easy to accidentally lock yourself into a fight sequence during which another enemy can hit you. Eventually, I learned to attack when an enemy was alone or jump away to break the lock and avoid getting hit. It was challenging but fun.

Sadly, there were a few kinks in the game. Enemies would sometimes walk off the edge of the screen and not come back. I'd have to walk off the screen to find them; usually they'd follow me back onto the screen, but sometimes they wouldn't. Enemies could also clip through the background and get stuck (as could I). It became a serious problem and was not a rare occurrence.

While I enjoyed the audio of the game, most of all I loved the graphics with their hand-drawn look. The graphics were one of the first things I noticed and loved about the game, and I still think they're great. Unfortunately, there are graphical errors as well. Besides the animations sometimes being poor and requiring more frames, there were also large black boxes where graphics weren't loading. The game would also freeze for a second or two on occasion despite my system meeting the system requirements.

The press release announcing The Asskickers mentioned the game commenting on the current state of the world. Well, you are tasked with kicking the ass of Fox, the owner of a news channel that's not telling the truth before being sent to fight the person funding him, Madock. Was that commenting on anything from the real world? ...I surely don't know. Anyway, besides a story mode, The Asskickers also features a survival mode and a time attack mode. The story and survival modes can be played single player or two-player, but the time attack is single player only. The additional modes offer a variety of fun and are still very challenging. There are also a decent number of achievements to hunt if you're so inclined!

The co-op is played locally. Either one person can use a gamepad or the keyboard can be configured to allow both players to share the one keyboard. While it's too bad that online play wasn't an option, I can understand that being a large hurdle for a small developer, and I absolutely love the option of local multiplayer. While it was a little cramped, I even managed to play two-player with two of us sharing my laptop keyboard! I'm a huge fan of local co-op, and that mode added a lot of value to the game.

The Asskickers is a fun throwback to older, more difficult beat 'em ups. It has a great art style and fun story. Unfortunately, the game is plagued by problems and glitches. A demo is available on the official site as is the full retail version for $8.99, a price that seems much too high even if the game was problem-free. However, if you're still interested in the game, make sure to check out the demo first. If it runs without any of the glitches, that price becomes a bit more reasonable!


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