HomeReviews2.5/5 ReviewBeat ’Em Up Archives (QUByte Classics) Review

Beat ’Em Up Archives (QUByte Classics) Review

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There are game titles that attempt to be clever, trying to draw players in by suggesting that the content may be worthy of their time. And then there are games that give everything you need up front. Care to guess which category Beat ’Em Up Archives (QUByte Classics) falls into?

Well, coming from PIKO Interactive and QUByte Interactive, what this game attempts to do is introduce today’s players to the world of the 90’s arcade, more specifically the beat ’em ups – as you may have gathered from the name. While I am all for donning a pair of rose tinted specs, thinking back to when games were games and gamers were tough, is there a space for Beat ’Em Up Archives (QUByte Classics) in our modern world? Well, I guess there’s only one way to find out. As Harry Hill would say – FIGHT!!

beat em up classics review 1
Jack is back in Iron Commando

The first game on the list is Legend, originally released in 1994 by Arcade Zone and unleashed on the Super Nintendo. There is a bit of an attempt at a narrative here as we set off on a quest to defeat Clovis, via the medium of clobbering anything that gets in our way. Think Golden Axe and you won’t be too far wide of the mark. We can play as one of two protagonists, either Igor or Kaor, and while the game will not win any awards for best storytelling, at least an effort was made. 

Which is more than can be said for the second game in the package – Iron Commando. Coming from the same developers, this game was slated to be released in 1995, but due to various reasons only launched in Japan. The story focuses on a soldier by the name of Jack, and a martial arts master by the name of Chang Li, as we try to make sure that G.H.O.S.T, (no idea) don’t get their hot little hands on a radioactive meteorite. Again, this is done by battering anything that gets in the way of our progress, moving from left to right. Still, at least we have a bare framework on which to hang the fighting action, eh?

In terms of the presentation and things get better, mostly as these games were reportedly among the best looking fighting games of their era. Although that makes it all the more puzzling that I’d never heard of them before this review. 

Starting with Legend, as the first game chronologically, the sprites, both for the heroes and the enemies are pretty big and detailed, and they don’t look entirely dreadful in motion either. The levels that we have to fight through are long, the backdrops are pretty detailed, so all in all the game looks pretty good. Don’t expect too much more in terms of audio; the usual thumps and grunts you’d expect from a fighting game. There is however a nice enough selection of music to listen to as well. 

beat em up classics review 2
A cart on your back? No wonder it struggles

Iron Commando is undoubtedly the same developer’s work, as it takes the same kind of design ethos and transplants it into a modern world, with dirty alleyways replacing woods, and gang members switched in for medieval enemies. The animation again is not bad for the time period (although not great by today’s standards, but you know, rose tinted goggles and all). And yes, that sound is the usual fare as with the previous game. Consider that these are a pair of games some thirty years old and they look pretty good. 

Of course, what games in the 1990’s had over those of today is in the difficulty; undoubtedly a lot harder in the old days. And so it proves as neither of those in the Beat ’Em Up Archives (QUByte Classics) take any prisoners. For the most part, the enemies think nothing of rushing you until you are overwhelmed. 

As you may expect to hear, the gameplay is standard for the time. One button to attack, one button to jump (and if you are feeling fancy, jump and attack) and one button to pick stuff up off the floor, be that weapons or apples in Iron Commando, or keys and money bags in Legend. Now, when I say the games are hard, obviously learning the controls isn’t, but the actual gameplay is, and it isn’t due to a lack of skill on my part (honest, I’m not that bad!).

No, the problem here is that our two heroes in Iron Commando are attempting to take on a gang armed with pistols and knives with their bare hands, and this goes about as well as you can imagine. The knife enemies have a ridiculously long reach (it’s like being stabbed by an angry Mr Tickle) and the gun wielding enemies have not only unlimited ammo, but an absolute dead eye accuracy. Once you get your hands on a gun or a knife, it is like they have been replaced by a rubber chicken, for the amount of damage they do. And as a final kick in the teeth, they have extremely limited ammo. All in all, the odds are very definitely stacked against you, as is usual. Oh, and when the game says “Continue?”, what it actually means is “Begin the whole stage again?”. That makes me sad. 

beat em up classics review 3
Still looks good. But doesn’t play well.

Legend is a bit easier to compete in as there aren’t any guns, but the problem here is one of repetition. The same enemies waddle onto the screen, are hit with a sword, and then die. More appear, you hit them a bit too, and then you are told to move on. Rinse, repeat and carry on until a boss appears, which usually kills you, resulting in a deep breath, and a new attempt at the level. The enemies in this one aren’t as cheap as in those found in the other, but the same tactics work – jump attacks make you basically unkillable, but pulling the move off is the challenge. 

So, Beat ’Em Up Archives (QUByte Classics) then. In conclusion, although the games still look good today, the gameplay has aged horribly. As a result it is all more frustrating than fun to play. Even if you have the reflexes of a fruit fly, it won’t make a bean of difference to the outcome. Of course, should you be a confirmed masochist, you may get some enjoyment out of what is on offer in Beat ’Em Up Archives (QUByte Classics), but for the rest of us, and for the sake of blood pressure levels, it may be best to pass.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Looks great
  • Story is attempted
Cons:
  • Psychic enemies are impossible to land a hit on
  • Continue option doesn’t continue
  • Frustrating to play
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, QUByte Interactive
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review)
  • Release date and price - 15 July 2023 | £8.39
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Looks great</li> <li>Story is attempted</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Psychic enemies are impossible to land a hit on</li> <li>Continue option doesn’t continue</li> <li>Frustrating to play</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, QUByte Interactive</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review) <li>Release date and price - 15 July 2023 | £8.39</li> </ul>Beat ’Em Up Archives (QUByte Classics) Review
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