You know exactly what you’re getting when playing Final Vendetta. Made by those that adore the classic beat-em-ups of the 16-bit era, it takes simple gameplay and manages to create a hardcore fighter amidst some stunning pixel backdrops. Fight waves of thugs across various locations in London, defeat the boss, and move on to the next stage. Whether its fundamental approach keeps you playing all depends on what you get out of the combat, but what you will find is beating up the enemies feels just as satisfying as it did way back in the 90s.
Despite its lack of content, Final Vendetta still manages to provide a solid fighter. Each of the three main characters has a different skill set, and when playing with someone else, you can see just how varied some of the moves are. It’s as generic as it gets in terms of story, with one of the fighter’s sisters being kidnapped. Tasked with her safe return, you fight through various stages to try and get her back. At the end of each stage, there’s a boss you have to defeat, and they all fight differently. It may look like an old school side scroller, but the combat is responsive and intense.
Final Vendetta: Classic combat for the modern era
The three main characters feel very much like a nod to classics like Streets of Rage and Final Fight. Claire is a martial artist from Essex who uses her speed and quick limbs to dish out punishment; Duke is a street fighter who blends furious strikes with punishing momentum; and Miller is a former professional wrestler from Canada who is a beefcake able to withstand a decent amount of damage. Each fighter has a couple of stronger moves. One can be built up to add extra damage when used, and the other will take away a bit of HP, but can be used to clear out multiple enemies at a time.
You can grab enemies, use running and jumping attacks, block, and unleash combos for added flare and damage. Most of the enemies are varied enough to provide a challenge, and as you progress through the stages, new bad guys come along with more HP and some brutal attacks. There’re female boxers, high-flying knife throwers, chunky brawlers, and mask-wearing psychos, all wanting a piece of you. I was also massively impressed with some of their names. Beating up Derek and Rodney outside a British pub made it feel as though I was in Peckham, reminding myself this was actually set in London and not the United States.
Sharp and snappy pixel art
The environments are varied, and the pixel art style is surprisingly detailed. You’ll fight on the tube, in elevators, glitzy clubs and by the docks, along with some other cool locations. There’re even environmental dangers you’ll need to watch out for. On one of my playthroughs, I’d done so well to stay alive, then a huge crate dropped on top of me and ended my run. You get a warning that something is going to hit you, but unless you’ve already encountered it, you’ll likely get hit. There’re different difficulty modes, but even on Easy, it can be a challenge.
Starting off with seven lives, you rarely get a chance to find more. An enemy will drop one from time to time, so trying to be as smart as possible when using your attacks is a much better option than just going in fists blazing. Once you use your last one, there’s no level select. You’re back at the beginning, forced to go back to the first stage and play through all over again. It wouldn’t be so much of an issue if Final Vendetta wasn’t so punishing at times, and it’s not always down to how good the AI is. If there’re any more than four enemies on the screen at a time, I wouldn’t always be able to block or counter attacks. You can become overwhelmed and not given the proper commands to defend yourself effectively.
Final Vendetta: Boss time
Bosses are both fun to fight and sneaky bastards that pull no punches. It took a good time to get used to certain attack patterns, but then you’re faced with one that keeps disappearing and reappearing without you having a chance to defend yourself. Turning and blocking is where Final Vendetta frustrated me the most. For saying how responsive the combat is, trying to guard against certain bosses and enemies is overtly challenging. Maybe I’m not as sharp as I once was, but even at my most focused, I struggled to survive particular encounters.
Final Vendetta takes what was great about classic beat-em-ups and adds a stylish new look. Combat is mostly addictive, and the variety of enemies and bosses make the playthrough well worth sticking with. It can be challenging at times, and with defending yourself tough to do, it can hurt the overall experience. Regardless, I enjoyed my time with it. Playing with a friend (or a twelve year-old daughter in my case) makes it much better, so if you’re up for some co-op action, it’ll make you appreciate the nuanced combat all the more.
Responsive and varied combat
Detailed and pretty environments
Blocking isn't as sharp
No level select