Tokyo Beat Down
Tokyo Beat Down is quick tongue-in-cheek fun, but the gameplay comes up short.
Lewis Cannon wants justice, and he wants it now. And what Lewis wants, Lewis gets.
That's the main thing you need to know about Atlus' Tokyo Beat Down, a game that pays homage to the fun beat-em-ups from the late 80s and early 90s. In the game, you'll control Lewis and other members of the "beast cops" division in Tokyo. These guys deliver justice in hardcore fashion (they don't bother with warrants). When criminals threaten to destroy the city, the team springs into action, taking to the streets and beating up every worthless thug they come across.
Tokyo Beat Down's story is told with tongue firmly planted in cheek. The dialogue is so ridiculously bad that it reminds us of the old Police Squad! comedy series (you know, the one with Leslie Nielsen as Frank Drebin). That's not a bad thing, though. It's fun to watch Lewis pout when a boss character collapses and demands to interrogate someone else. There's also a terrific moment where he worries if his fighting stats will actually level down. It's pure 80s schlock, complete with a grizzled old detective who doesn't give a damn and the young, hot cadet who left most of her wardrobe at home. Not that we're complaining.
That said, Atlus botched the gameplay. The beat-em-up action isn't bad, as you can perform numerous combos, special moves and throws that leaves enemies crumpled in your wake. However, some of your moves are worthless. You have the ability to jump, but can't perform a kick in the air. Considering there aren't that many obstacles in the game that require you to jump, we're wondering why Atlus included it.
Furthermore, there's no point to use block and your gun . Blocking takes about half a second to execute, and by that time, you could've easily used an offensive maneuver to strike back. As for the gun, don't bother. It takes you a full second to pull it from your holster and get the enemy in your sights. Half the time, your bullets won't even hit your intended targets, even if they're standing right in front of you. This ties in to the incredibly cheap enemy AI that'll hit you while you're on the ground. The bosses are cheaper, sending dozens of thugs to distract you while they get their shots in.
In addition, the patrolling segments make us sleepy. On occasion, you'll have to actually do your job (gasp!) and ask the locals about gang activity in the area. Atlus should've left this out of the game, since walking up and talking to citizen after citizen with little new information gets old. Beating the truth out of them might have been more fun, especially considering some of them have such smart mouths. (Old ladies are supposed to be nice!)
The game's presentation pays homage to the classic beat-em-up. The 3-D visuals revert back to the old days of side-scrolling action romps, with traditional Japanese city backgrounds (look, we're fighting in front of the market!) and plenty of jittery animated thugs in leisure and business suits. The action looks great, and the humorously crude cut scenes add to the cheesiness. The music consists of fun 80s rock with some tunes getting on your nerves and others slowly creeping into your head. There's very little in the way of sound effects and voicework, but for a game like this, maybe that's not a bad thing. We can't imagine hearing these thugs taunt us.
Even though you're forced to play the game solo (sadly, the game lacks multiplayer), Tokyo Beat Down has enough goofy moments to warrant a rental. It pales in comparison to Streets of Rage and Final Fight, but considering those franchises aren't around anymore, we'll take what we can get.
What's Hot: Hilariously cheesy storyline and dialogue, fun beat-em-up action, visuals and music are a nice throwback to the Double Dragon/Final Fight era.
What's Not: Gun-shooting and block moves are completely worthless, you can't attack while jumping, enemies (particularly bosses) are incredibly cheap, boring patrol segments, no multiplayer.