Ah, the 1980s. A time for bad movies and even badder one liners. So why on earth have Spilt Milk and Merge Games decided to create a game that brings together nearly every single 1980’s action movie ever made?
Well, other than the chance to drop in with a huge amount of humour and nostalgia, I’m not really too sure. Because to go with the bad movies and bad narratives, we now have a bad game. A really bad game.
Tango Fiesta is what they’ve come up with and even though it promises much, it delivers very little. A top down twin stick shooter for anything between one and four players to enjoy, Tango Fiesta will take you on a journey through all the best and worst bits of 80’s film culture. Expect lots of action, lots of humour and a story so difficult to follow that it’s unreal. Oh, and expect lots of Uzi 9mm references. I mean, lots of them.
The premise is a fun one. You play as John Strong, or a multitude of other strangely named action heroes, who have been tasked with saving his fiancee and ridding the world of all evil. You’ll be given the chance to blast, shoot and melee your way through a number of procedurally generated levels, taking in the ultimate 1980s action story as you do so. It’s not a tough task, and it won’t take you long to complete the story campaign, but once you’ve done that, will you ever have a need to go back? My god no.
You see, at no point is it plain sailing through anything that Tango Fiesta brings. In fact, throughout my time with it, I’ve been greeted by bugs, game crashes and some of the strangest gameplay ideas I’ve seen in many a year. I mean, upon completion of a level, why on earth do a whole host of new enemies spawn, if only for a second, prior to the level ending? Why do some levels have absolutely no enemies to kill? Why do others have so many that it becomes a struggle with even four players firing a ton of bullets at them? And why on earth do some of the enemies that appear, suddenly decide to give up the ghost and hang around like they’re visiting midnight mass, refusing flat out to engage in any form of combat?
I know the answer to these questions, and that is that Tango Fiesta is so bug ridden it’s untrue. And that’s a shame, because it’s quite obvious that the promised quick run through a bunch of randomly generated levels should actually be pretty decent fun – especially if you can manage to coerce a local friend or two into the action.
But you’re never really given the chance to enjoy anything, instead being left to laugh at Tango Fiesta instead of laughing with it. By any stretch of the imagination, for a game costing £7.99, that isn’t a good thing.
Further ‘not good things’ consist of the fact that the twin stick shooting mechanics don’t allow you to shoot in all directions. Instead you are limited to just the eight directions, with the four compass points and those in between being your utter limit. Weapon changing, as you attempt to inject some live into things by mixing up the battle with a secondary weapon, is also dodgy, working at times, whilst completely failing at others.
Even the AI are dumb, sometimes piling into you like there is no tomorrow, whilst at other times letting you wander round to your heart’s content. They’ll get stuck in buildings, blindly firing like their poor little lives depend on it, letting you have a free rein in destroying the few objectives that you find on each stage. The end of level bosses are no more difficult, running around after you like some demented headless chicken, caring little for the rampage of bullets and grenades you are throwing their way.
Visually things aren’t great with Tango Fiesta either. Graphics are basic at best, the levels are as hit and miss as a randomly generated arena allows, and the hit mechanics – both with you against the enemy and any structure that is in place – are way off what is acceptable in this day and age. Here we are in 2017, playing video games on one of the most powerful consoles the world has ever seen, and I’m seeing moments where the visuals fail completely – leaving you in a blackened hole of a screen – with structures and enemies flitting in and out like you’re turning the power supply on and off.
But in amongst all the rubbish, there must be something good? Well, the audio is fun and even though the Arnie style Uzi 9mm Terminator references begin to grate on you after a while, they are initially welcome. The full drop-in, drop-out local multiplayer options works well too – even if the game does get considerably easier the more players who get involved. You certainly won’t find that Tango Fiesta tests your gaming skills at any point – especially when those enemy free levels crop up.
So what else is there left to say about Tango Fiesta? Well, it’s got an arcade mode, but that is just more of the same as that found in the story option. And it’s got a shop in which you can buy guns with in-game cash. But you never need to because the standard shotgun and rifle is more than a match for any enemy that decides to mess with you. There is also a worldwide leaderboard which threatens to unmask all those who have been swept in on the back of false promises. To be honest, I think I’d prefer it if I wasn’t ever found on there.
But other than that, Tango Fiesta is a game that is severely lacking on all fronts. It’s visually poor, full of bugs, comes with more glitches than I care to mention and will eventually be over in a little more than an hour of your time – less if you get super lucky and find the majority of levels go easy on you.
If you really must engross yourself in some 1980’s film culture, then drag out that old VHS recorder and watch Terminator for the millionth time. Just don’t bother spending time, money or effort on Tango Fiesta.