An arcade style, beautifully animated beat ’em up, Jitsu Squad throws itself at you in a riot of colour and glorious sound.
Starring a diverse cast of anthropomorphic, playable characters, Jitsu Squad sees martial arts master Ramen sending four of his students to retrieve the powerful Kusanagi Stone from the evil Origami.
Up to four players can simultaneously take on the quest, with a cute bunny, solid warthog, nimble frog and ninja raccoon available to play as, across eight stages.
The combo heavy gameplay is fast and furious, barely letting up for a second – and boss fights feel suitably epic and large scale.
There’s a couple of issues with the gameplay that stop Jitsu Squad short of being an unqualified recommend from me: perhaps a minor issue, but the requirement to use a button to pick up items – particularly when it’s a health item – can be problematic when all of the action is kicking off; also, there’s a few attack moves that require pauses or longer presses in input – it feels as if the game is trying to give you too much in terms of options, on a control scheme that can’t quite cope.
The fact that characters have to collect and unlock certain special moves is a bit of a disappointment too, especially at the rate they’re doled out – it does mean that you can’t really switch between characters once you’ve committed to one, as you could be changing to a character in the latter stages who hasn’t yet unlocked their expected repertoire of moves at that point.
These do, however, feel like minor issues, if not quite nitpicks. The action is beautifully presented, with plenty of pyrotechnics and an absolute banger of a soundtrack.
Though there are only eight stages, it’s hardly common for beat ’em ups to feature countless levels – Jitsu Squad certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome in any case.
Despite its issues, Jitsu Squad is a neat throwback to the classic beat ’em ups of yesteryear, with some lovely modern touches including its gorgeous visuals and stunning soundtrack.
Jitsu Squad is out now on Switch, PS4, PS5 and Xbox consoles. I was given a Switch version by the publisher for review purposes.
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