The Bitmap Bureau has done quite well for itself on the indie market, merely by channeling the classic game design of old into fresh new releases. These include Battle Axe and Xeno Crisis, two highly replayable games available on consoles. Now, the team cuts its teeth on side-scrolling beat-em-ups with the enjoyable but slightly frustrating Final Vendetta.
Now, if the title sounds like a tribute to the classic brawlers of old, that’s because it is. You’ve got Final Fight, Konami’s arcade release Vendetta, the Streets of Rage games…it runs the gamut. Bitmap Bureau is no stranger to paying tribute to this loving genre, and even borrows from the best of them.
The story revolves around a deadly crime syndicate taking over the streets of London. To assure the good guys don’t get in the way, they kidnap the sister of a hard-ass brawler, Claire Sparks. Think that’ll stop her? Nope. She’ll team up with the pulverizing Duke Sancho and the strong Miller T. Williams to stop them in their tracks.
So, how’s the game fare? Well, let’s look at each of the categories.
Doesn’t Go Above and Beyond, But Final Vendetta’s Presentation Gets the Job Done
Final Vendetta does a solid job evoking memories of classic (and not-so-classic) 16-bit style beat-em-ups. The animations look good, and there’s a variety of backdrops that take you all over the city. Not only that, but the enemy design is good fun in itself, including some pretty funky bosses. There are times it can get a little confusing in two-player mode, but that just comes with the brawling territory.
Not only that, but the music is good, too. It’s hardly on the level of Yuzo Koshiro’s Streets of Ragesoundtrack, but it’s inspired enough to give a listen. On top of that, it’s backed by some great sound FX, along with those lovely character groans when they’re defeated.
Overall, it’s a good presentation. It doesn’t go above and beyond like other games in the genre (cough Shredder’s Revenge cough). Given the small development team behind it, however, they did a solid job for the most part.
A Bit Difficult? You Could Say That
One thing that Final Vendetta does get right is presenting a challenge. This is one tough cookie, even with some things you didn’t expect to go against you.
This involves the game’s somewhat problematic hit detection. That’s not to say it’s completely broken by any means. However, it can be frustrating when you miss someone that’s right in front of you by accident, but they hit you perfectly. Otherwise, landing hits is pretty nice, and there are some sick moves to execute here. Especially if you’re Miller. Once a wrestler, always a wrestler.
Also, the difficulty is dialed up automatically anyway. Some of these bosses are monsters; and you can get surrounded pretty easily if you’re not careful. Fortunately, there’s a useful super move system to clear them away if they’re too much. Just watch that energy bar of yours, however. Too many uses and you’ll be barely clinging to life.
Think the “easy” mode will save you? Not quite. It’s still a challenge as well, and will have you amateur players chomping at the bit. Fortunately, two player local mode is a lot of fun. And the game’s worth going through to unlock additional modes, including an ultra-hard mode that simply exists for the masochists out there. Enjoy chewing on that tough piece of gristle.
A Worthy Vendetta, If A Bit Unpolished
Bitmap Bureau wins more than it loses with Final Vendetta. It has some notable problems with hit detection and the difficulty being dialled up to eleventeen hundred, which can be a bit much at times. Still, its gameplay has its heart in the right place; and the presentation definitely takes its inspiration from the classics. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re up for a challenge or just something that reminds you of a begotten era. Not my first choice, but far from my last either.