Continuing the beat ’em up love is Final Vendetta, the latest title from UK based developers Bitmap Bureau, the studio behind retro inspired titles like Xeno Crisis and Battle Axe. Like DotEmu, their games are extremely good as they take a look at the past, and even tech, and give it all a modern twist. They end up asking what would games in the mid-90’s have been like, but with today’s knowledge and ability? Final Vendetta is a side scrolling beat ’em up, in the vein of Streets of Rage, but with a strong Final Fight vibe running through it. This means it moves slower than you may expect, but packs a harder punch
The game’s tale is routine beat ’em up fare, where one of our heroes, Claire Sparks – a student and martial arts expert (of course) – becomes embroiled in the rescue of her sister. She has to rope in a few mates like Duke Sancho – a bare-knuckle fighter – and Miller T. Williams – a Canadian ex-pro wrestler – and the trio battle their way through the streets of London one thug at a time… all in the hope of saving Claire’s sister. It’s about as deep as a puddle in the story stakes, but it holds everything together as you punch and kick never-ending hordes of punks. These seem to like a colour palette swap every so often, which magically makes them more challenging. In an extremely interesting move, Final Vendetta is actually developed and runs on the Neo Geo as Bitmap Bureau felt that there was a real lack of beat ’em up’s on this long forgotten juggernaut of a console. If you have one in the loft maybe it’s worth breaking it out as the game will be getting a full cartridge release in the future for the system.
If you have played Final Fight you’ll know what to expect here as you battle a handful enemies on screen before moving on. Then grab a few heath pick-ups before fighting a boss. Beware though, Final Vendetta is far from an easy game. It’s very brutal and unforgiving, so expect to see the game-over screen more than a few times. There is a training mode, but in a truly mental move you only unlock it once you have completed the game, which sort of renders it’s pointless… unless you want to learn how to best fight with the other two in the trio. Having training unlocked at the start would have really taken the sting out of getting to the latter half of the game, only to be put on your backside by a new boss and no way to practice against them. Unless of course you want to begin all over again.
Visually the game is very nice on the eye with a real chunky vibe to the world and characters that fully embrace that of the likes of Final Fight. As with all beat ’em up’s there is a killer soundtrack – this time handled by English electronic duo Utah Saints (remember them?) so expect lots of drum and bass with a dash of rave, trance and techno. Unfortunately the co-op side of the game has taken a hit, maybe due to it being developed on the Neo Geo. At the moment there is only 2 player couch co-op as an option, with rumours that online co-op may be in the works. Final Vendetta is a lot harder than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, and even a lot less accessible in some respects which will put off the more causal players, but if you’re a beat ’em up fan there is plenty to sink your teeth into here and a real challenge to overcome.
An Xbox review copy of Final Vendetta was provided by Bitmap Bureau’s PR team, and the game is available now on PC, Xbox, Switch and PlayStation for around £20 digitally… or an ungodly amount for the boxed versions.