Bitmap Bureau have carved themselves out a great niche over the last few years, having been responsible for some fantastic homages to classic 16-bit titles. Games such as the Smash TV/Aliens mashup Xeno Crisis and 90s hack n slash tribute Battle Axe were the two most recent games that Bitmap Bureau were responsible for – and each absolutely nailed the aesthetic and challenging gameplay of 90s video games perfectly.
Final Vendetta is another Bitmap Bureau title that gets the aesthetics spot on, with gorgeous pixel art visuals, great sound effects and an absolute blinder of a soundtrack from Utah Saints and Featurecast.
Taking inspiration from scrolling beat ’em ups from the 90s such as Final Fight and Streets of Rage, Final Vendetta is set in London, presumably in the 90s – a city under siege from the ever expanding, powerful Syndic8 gang. When the gang kidnap martial arts expert Claire Sparks’s younger sister, Claire and her friends – bare knuckle fighter Duke Sancho and ex-wrestler Miller T. Williams – set out to get her back.
Right from the start, Final Vendetta wears its influences on its sleeve, with familiar urban environments and named, cannon fodder bad guys to take out by the dozen. It’s a brilliantly satisfying game in practice, though it can get a little repetitive. – especially during the somewhat dull boss fights. Minute to minute beat ’em action is well done and very compelling, however. The slight differences in how each character handles means that you can choose which one more readily suits your playstyle too.
There’s a great sense of place, with red phone boxes, London Tube maps and even the interiors of tube trains themselves on display throughout. And that’s without even going into the general street settings themselves, which are full of life, detail and colour.
Enemies come in all shapes and sizes too, with some having attack patterns that can cause damage as they’re standing up (after you’ve knocked them down of course!).
It’s a potent formula and shows that the games it draws inspiration from, as well as their general style and playability, have aged beautifully.
Yet there’s a few issues. Though there are only six stages to get through, once you lose your lives you’re kicked back to the beginning of stage one when you play again – with no continues or save points. It becomes a real chore to keep going through the same levels over and over again. There’s the option of two difficulty levels – Easy or Hard – with the former simply giving the player more lives and less enemies to deal with, but even on Easy the lack of continues or being able to save progress really stings.
With other modes to unlock, however – such as Boss Rush and Survival – there’s plenty here to keep patient beat ’em up enthusiasts busy for a little while at least.
It’s good fun in two player mode too; teaming up with a friend to take on the bad guys is great.
So though it does feel a little thin on content – until you git gud and unlock the extra modes – Final Vendetta is a decent homage to the beat ’em ups of yesteryear. With new tracks from Utah Saints on the soundtrack, it really does feel like you’ve turned the clock back to 1992 at times; so I’m sure that many fans of the genre will feel right at home with the hard hitting, colourful and slightly anarchic fun of Final Vendetta.
Final Vendetta is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S consoles. Many thanks to Numskull Games for providing me with a code for review purposes.
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