A Roaring Rampage Of Revenge
Our good friends at VideoGamesNewYork recently published another game with their publishing company, VGSoft. Previously, we looked at Liberated on the Nintendo Switch, another game by VGSoft. Ultimately, it was an ambitious noir comic book side-scroller that had its fair share of flaws. Okinawa Rush, on the other hand, is a different beast and a homage to 16-bit games of the 90s.
This isn't the first nor will this be the last 16-bit retro-inspired game that we'll cover, but something about Okinawa Rush screams uniqueness. Another game that I could compare this to was Huntdown. Rather than a 16-bit platformer with an emphasis on guns, Okinawa is entirely inspired by martial arts.
Your Wife Is Dead. Your Children Are Kidnapped. Okinawa Rush.
Perhaps serving as a bit of bait-and-switch, Okinawa Rush begins not with the protagonist but his wife. As the husband, Hiro is out training, players control the wife in a tutorial level. This tutorial serves as introducing the players to the controls, including how to attack and parry. Parrying, like most games, require precision and it can be used to thwart an enemy's offense. Conversely, they can be used to deflect traps with proper timing.
As Ayumi attacks and explores the caverns for ingredients, even getting in between her children fighting each other, she appears to be able to defend herself. The tutorial level not only lets the player know her strengths but also sets the tone for Hiro's enemies. One can only think about how much his wife put up a fight against her adversaries before her unfortunate demise.
It's A Platformer With The Philosophy Of A Fighting Game
From the first level, Hiro is ambushed by ninja and ogres, using his fighting prowess to save village survivors. Even simply "mashing the attack button" feels satisfying as bodies are hurled towards Hiro. The cutscenes are fully voiced, with the expected delivery of a 90s anime dub. The attacks are fluidly animated, enough to lull the player in a false sense of security.
On the default and higher-level difficulties, there are traps galore that require the player to become aware. Throughout my preview gameplay, I've died one too many times to "instant kill" traps. Even certain enemies, like the ogre, will kill Hiro in one crushing swing. Martial arts expert or not, Hiro is still human. Thus, the game requires the prowess of a fighting game player.
Toss Hadoukens, Electric Wind God Fists, And Shoryukens Like The Best Of Them
Unfortunately, a key element to Okinawa Rush's gameplay was something I realized towards the end of my gameplay. Hiro has a fleshed-out move list that he can move with or without "Power." These include iconic attacks paired with iconic motions. Ever curious to see Hiro doing a Fireball? Use the "quarter-circle forward motion" to see for yourself. Other iconic moves such as Axel's "Grand Upper" are also referenced.
If that's not enough for you, there are other references to other fighters including Ken's Shoryuken and Kazuya's Electric Wind God Fist. While the commands aren't a 1:1 recreation outside of the "Fireball," the references are enough to make any fighting game fan smile.
Okinawa Rush Is Difficult, But It's A Fun Ride
Like most games of its time as well as its references, Okinawa Rush is a difficult game. It's a game that can be speedrun as well as a game that can be paced. Trying to fight your way without a plan will equal lives lost. I never felt frustrated as I did with other games like Tanuki Justice. If I died, I generally knew why I did (even if the death traps are cheap).
Overall, with the physical release of Okinawa Rush, it's a great game as well as a title that would look good on anyone's shelf. While it's not the easiest game to play or breeze through, it is a fun game to master and easy to pick up.
Okinawa Rush is available on the Switch.