Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review: Squareboy Vs. Bullies - Arena Edition


In terms of genre representation on the Switch the classic beat-em-up hasn’t really gotten much love to this point. That changes this week with the release of Squareboy Vs. Bullies - Arena Edition. Working with a pretty basic control scheme you’ll try to get Squareboy through a variety of tough situations with progressively more challenging foes as he works to defend himself and then find his sensei.

Visually there’s not a whole lot going on, it is a pretty basic 8-bit style game in appearance and though it isn’t burning up the world there’s nothing terribly wrong with it either. Enemies are, at the core, very similar looking for the most part but they do have varying hair, hats, or other fine details so you’ll be able to tell them apart. For the most part they vary in appearance in order to tip you off to the type of weapons they may use or special attacks they may have so all of this works reasonably well.


The game uses a pretty basic 2-button scheme with one for attack and one for jump. They’re used for relatively good effect for variety with double-tap directional attacks (dash, spinning leg sweep, spinning uppercut) though those do feel a little unreliable at times. You’ll also be able to do some relatively stock beat-em-up moves like grabbing someone and then either punching or throwing them, and what would a beat-em-up be without a stock jump kick.

There’s both the main Story mode as well as an Arena mode, and you can play those by yourself or with a friend, but overall there’s not much differentiation between them. Being blunt for the most part while there’s a challenge to be had none of it is terribly thrilling. You’ll need to keep yourself from getting trapped from both sides, keep an eye on anyone with a ranged attack, and make the most of whatever pick-ups you’re able to find along the way but it is textbook fare overall. Arena mode is really just fighting a series of foes that will allow you to unlock new locales to fight in. Story Mode does walk you through a pretty simply narrative of you and your sensei but while the themed enemies do change with location the repetition still sets in pretty hard.


Functionally I can’t really fault Squareboy with any major concerns but perhaps that isn’t the most ringing endorsement either. Though it is admirably put together and works perfectly well it is lacking in excitement and even I’d say in some heart. Having finished played it for hours I’m still really indifferent on the overall experience. It isn’t bad but it isn’t memorable. If you’re searching for something simple that is inexpensive and will consume some of your time with a generally moderate challenge, and are just a fan of the genre in its many forms, perhaps it could be worth your time though.

Score: 6

Pros:
  • Enemies are varied and will get you in trouble if you don’t maneuver yourself well
  • It can at least be a little more fun if you are able to play with a friend

Cons:
  • Not terribly memorable in any way
  • The double-tap attacks don’t always come off reliably
  • Arena mode is really just the same overall experience with a counter


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