Thanks to Ratalaikia Games for the review code
Title: Squareboy VS Bullies: Arena Edition
System: Playstation Vita/TV, Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 10/12/2017
In this side scrolling beat’em up, you take control of the titular Squareboy, who decides after training with a Sensei to go out and beat up the local Bully gang as revenge for attacking him! It’s an incredibly barebones and predictable excuse plot, which is no surprise for a game in a genre known for these types of plots.
Visually, the game uses a pretty generic pixel art style that reminds me a lot of the types of mobile games I played a ton of on my iPod Touch back in 2009. This doesn’t mean that the visuals look terrible, just really, really uninspired. A lot of the enemies are reskinned versions of one another, and the small soundtrack consists of incredibly repetitive loops that get really irritating. Backgrounds are average looking at best, but still look colorful enough, while nearly every enemy loves to do this funny strut animation, acting as if they’re pretending to be cool.
From the get-go, you have two basic modes to choose from, with a Story Mode that spans around 14 levels as you progress stage by stage, defeating every enemy and boss you encounter, and an arena mode, which throws an endless horde of enemies at you as you go for a high score. There’s also over twenty unlockable achievements in both versions. (With the Switch Version having them in-game) While this would normally be a positive aspect of any multiplat game with achievements, I have to say that every achievement in this game is absolutely worthless and adds no replay value to the game whatsoever. Nine of the twenty-six achievements are earned by doing incredibly basic combos that you can find out how to do in a menu, one achievement is earned by opening said menu, eight are related to using the basic weapons you can pick up during the stages, five are earned during the main story, and three are for defeating a certain amount of enemies, but the only problem is, the numbers are so low that you’ll get every trophy before you beat the main story.
You might have noticed that the Arena mode wasn’t mentioned with any of those achievements, and the reason for that is because outside of the move list and enemy count trophies, there’s nothing exclusive to the Arena mode (you know, the one that’s part of the title of the game) at all, which is absurd since achievements for that mode could easily help extend the replay value a bit, perhaps by setting an amount of time for you to survive in order to obtain some achievements, or by defeating lots of enemies in a row without taking damage, but the lack of any achievements in this mode makes it feel pretty worthless.
Regardless of the poor replay value, both game modes control the same, with you moving the titular Squareboy around with the D-Pad or Analog stick, using the attack button while holding said D-Pad in different directions to do a range of attacks, and a crucial Counter move that’s performed by pressing the attack and jump buttons at the exact same time while you’re being damaged. I said crucial for that maneuver because if you don’t use it, you’ll be obliterated when enemies surround you, as you’ll be immediately knocked back down after standing back up, which means that using this move to shake the enemies off you is required to make it anywhere in the game. And from there, you pretty much have the entire game explained. There are a few bosses to encounter, but these are just beefier versions of the normal enemies with nothing special about them outside of the way they look.
In conclusion, Squareboy Vs Bullies is a really shallow and repetitive game that doesn’t really have much going for it, except for being a low-cost game with two features that may make it worth buying for those who are willing to spend an afternoon with it, with the PS Vita version having an insultingly easy platinum trophy to unlock for your profile, while the Switch version has a Co-Op mode for you and a buddy to tackle to make the game even easier. There’s nothing to be found here that hasn’t been seen in other games before, and outside of the amusing dialogue that appears before the stages there’s not much to talk about. Thus, I give Squareboy VS Bullies: Arena Edition a 5 out of 10 for both versions.