GameCity 2014: Hands-on with Raging Justice, an old-school beat-‘em-up from ex-Rare devs

Kicking off

GameCity 2014: Hands-on with Raging Justice, an old-school beat-‘em-up from ex-Rare devs
| Raging Justice
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The side-scrolling beat-'em-up is a genre very much of its time. With basic plotlines which echoed the vengeance-soaked action flicks of the era, a focus on local co-op play, and a fondness for coin-guzzling bosses, some would argue that the genre died with the arcades.

But there's clearly a sense of nostalgia for this kind of game, even on systems which aren't traditionally suitable to accommodate them – ports of Streets of Rage and Final Fight have both surfaced on iOS in recent years, for instance.

And that's where Raging Justice comes in. A brand new beat-'em-up that's not based on an existing franchise is a rare thing to see in 2014 – particularly on mobile platforms – but that's exactly what indie studio Makin Games has set out to create.

It all started when Nic Makin, formerly of Rare, began working on a nostalgic hobby project with some of his former colleagues, four years ago.

Raging Justice

There's no question the team's got some pedigree. Nic's programming credits include Kameo: Elements of Power, the canned Banjo Kazoomie, and, um, Perfect Dark Zero. And Steve Burke, who's working on the music, composed the award-nominated soundtracks for Kameo and Viva Pinata.

But when it all started, they were a fairly ragtag crew. It wasn't until Nic's wife, Anna, came on board as company co-director and publisher that Makin Games was properly established.

Taking a punch

We were given the opportunity to go hands-on with the opening stage of Raging Justice at the recent GameCity exhibition in Nottingham. Here, the team were showing off the iOS build using an authentic iCade setup, so we can't account for the quality of the touch-based controls just yet.

What we can say with confidence, however, is that the game plays really nicely. Makin Games has got that beat-'em-up feel just right, complete with bone-shuddering weapon attacks and weighty divekicks.

The thugs you take on are all pleasingly ridiculous caricatures of the 90s street punk stereotype, all making bold fashion statements like 'wearing no shirt' or 'having dumb hair'. And you, as a gritty cop, have to punch and kick them to death in their droves. For justice!

Raging Justice

The best thing you can say is that it doesn't feel new. That might seem extremely backhanded, but it is intended as a compliment. So many indie games shoot for 'retro' and end up hitting 'retro tribute', but Raging Justice feels more authentically ancient.

It's more technically accomplished, of course – it looks a great deal better than an old arcade game would've been capable of, and weapons in Streets of Rage have all the impact of a wet sock when compared to those in Raging Justice – but it maintains the feel of the classics while rendering it acceptable to modern, cynical eyes.

We're told that it's coming to iOS and Android in March 2015, and we'd say it's worth keeping an eye on – even if only because there's little else out there to scratch that beat-'em-up itch.

Matt Suckley
Matt Suckley
Achingly contrarian. Proud owner of an N-Gage and a PSP Go. Matt spends most of his time writing about indie games of which you've never heard. Like that one, yes. Matt is an English student, and largely terrible at games. Go figure.