Beat ‘em ups are great. Beat ‘em ups are a part of a well-balanced video game diet. After a couple of courses of single-player with a side of online multiplayer, you sometimes look to cleanse the palate with a classic. The vanilla ice cream dessert after dinner, the side-scrolling beat ‘em up. Two scoops if you have a second player to enjoy it with. Last Beat Enhanced is a beat ‘em up. When it comes to 2D side-scrolling beat ’em-up video games I can say without a doubt that Last Beat Enhanced is one of them. As an aforementioned palate-cleansing classic, Last Beat peels back to the old-school classics but continues to peel back until it is just bare bones and basic.
The choice to create the game in an 8-bit style looks interesting at first glance, once you play the game it seems like it was the only choice to make due to technical ability. It’s like someone dug up your old Tamagotchi and installed Double Dragon on it. Feel that little nostalgia rush after remembering your old digital pet you neglected and only fed once a week? That’s the rush Last Beat is looking to grab hold of but sadly, it cannot keep up with it at all and falls into the open.
You’re equipped with a light attack, special attack and block/counter-attack. Paired with a jump button and dashing via double tapping a direction. Counterattacks are high risk, low reward, no reason at all to leave yourself open to an enemy attack when you’re already in range to give them a slap. Special attacks are useful for crowd control and ripping a chunk out of a boss’s health bar. Light attacks are all you’re going to see because it’s the only constant means of attack and one of two things will come from this button. You will break the button from non-stop repetitive use or the game will break you from its non-stop repetitive use.
It’s a ‘press square to win’ game. You can pull off combo attacks but all that will do is knock the enemy down and give them a chance to attack you on wake-up. Once you realise you can time your attacks and not execute a combo, you will be roaming the streets jabbing the mush and stun-locking every man, woman and child* who dares get in your way. *you don’t really box the head of children.
Speaking of streets, the game starts with your standard main road, followed by an interior of a building/warehouse but after that, they just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. The local park looks normal at first but one screen in and you discover the park is now full of man-made bottomless pits the size of a small bus and landmines are just thrown all over the shop. After that, you’re up top in the mountains and taking what looks like a world tour of locations.
If you’re playing Last Beat Enhanced on a platform that has achievements, you’ll notice the game starts throwing high-level trophies your way for the most mundane of efforts. “Three hit combo”, “defeat four men”, “defeat four women”, and “die” all of these on the Playstation have a gold trophy attached to them for your valiant efforts in achieving these egregious tasks.
This feels like a game akin to ‘My name is Mayo’. A shovelware title worth a couple of quid and in return you get a large number of gold trophies and platinum for an hour of your time. All trophies can be obtained in about twenty minutes, there is no endgame trophy, unlock all character trophies or unlock all power-ups. It feels like a game to bump your trophy cabinet higher with a beat ’em-up coat of paint. The fact that it will cost you a tenner is ridiculous, and I’d sooner spend that on an actual Tamagotchi.
The market is fresh with options of the genre if you wish to indulge in a classic beat ‘em up. Streets of Rage 4, Shredders Revenge or Scott Pilgrim to name some standouts, put the tenner towards one of them instead. You’ll get substantially more enjoyment for your money and will own something that feels like a proper videogame.
Words by the ever-lovely Lewis Magee.