(Mini) Game Review: Last Beat Enhanced

I have a lot of love and respect for solo indie devs. Creating a game on your own can’t be an easy thing to do. Oscar Celestini is one of those solo devs and he has teamed up with publisher 7 Raven Studios to release an updated version of his 2020 game with Last Beat Enhanced.

“Vanquish the Mad Stroke gangs across 8 levels! Punch and kick your way to defeat enemies, use melee and throwing weapons to defeat the most powerful bosses, collect bonuses and enjoy special shots. Race your motorbike at full speed in the bonus stages, earn money to unlock additional characters and secret images from a rich gallery!”

Last Beat Enhanced is an old-school, stylised beat ’em up. Think along the lines of the NES version of Double Dragon and there you go. Featuring multiple characters, each with varying stats, strengths and weaknesses. You have your standard beat ’em up gameplay and plough your way through dozens upon dozens of bad guys (and gals) and take on a boss at the end of each stage. There’s one attack button, a jump, block/parry and of course, a special move. It really is all pretty much standard stuff.

LAST BEAT SCREEN 2

What gives Last Beat Enhanced a bit of a USP is that you earn money for upgrades and to unlock new characters. How you earn that money is simple, beat people up. You’ll earn coin for every hit you land and every enemy you defeat. Now, if you can string together blows without you getting hit yourself, you’ll increase your beat multiplier. The higher the multiplier, the more money you will earn. So, there’s a real incentive to not just ‘button mash’, but to try and actually pick your targets and attacks carefully, as to not leave yourself open to a fist to the face and break your multiplier.

Money can also be found just lying around on the levels too. As this is a classic beat ’em up, you’ll find various items lying around or when you break open boxes, barrels and such. Health items, weapons and so on. The main stages are interjected with some bonus stages such as you riding a motorbike or smashing up a car with your fists (where have I seen that before?). As I said earlier, this is very standard stuff for this genre.

LAST BEAT SCREEN

As you can see from the trailer and screens here, Last Beat Enhanced has a very 8-bit graphical style. It kind of looks like a game that would have been produced if the NES had a love child with the Master System. The pixel art is fine and works well too, with some nice little background details on the levels. There are secrets to find on each stage and loads of unlockable art and such. There’s also the addition of a two-player couch co-op option, very old school.

Last Beat Enhanced is going to set you back the princely sum of around £9, available now on all the consoles. Oscar Celestini has done a great job of capturing that old-school beat ’em up feel. But I don’t think that I’d be happy spending £9 on this though. It’s a nice little distraction for a couple of hours and fun for a short while. If you want to unlock all of the extras and art work, etc, then be prepared for a lot of grinding, several dozen hours of it. Then there is the upgrade thing, they only last for one run. You can spend an hour or so saving up the cash for an upgrade, and it’ll only last until you lose your one and only life. Then you have to spend that hour or so to buy the upgrade again.

LAST BEAT SCREEN 3

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy Last Beat Enhanced, because I did. It really is a well-made and is a loving tribute to the likes of Double Dragon and the whole late 80s/early 90s beat ’em up craze. I just don’t think that this is quite worth the £9 asking price. Wait a while and grab it in a sale instead.

(Mini) Game Review: After Wave: Downfall

After Wave: Downfall is a new arcade shoot ’em up from developer 7 Raven Studios. Right from the off, this game already has me feeling a tad uneasy. See, I was given a review code about a week before launch however, the code would not work until release day. This is a tactic that is used by developers and publishers when a game is terrible to keep the bad press down to a minimum before launch. Still, that alone does not mean the game will be bad. I just find it questionable as to why they don’t want reviewers playing the game and being able to write their reviews ahead of time.

It also begs the question, why give me a review code a week before I can use it and not just give me the code on release day? Also, this is just going to have to be a mini-review as I’ve recently been inundated with review codes a couple of days before going away on holiday.

“After Wave: Downfall is an arcade shooter where the player battles against monsters, completes various missions with a cool battleship. Deathrix invaded the world and released a mysterious meteorite causing a great flood.”

Anyway, questionably late review codes aside, is After Wave: Downfall any good? The short story is… it’s not too bad. A vertical scrolling shooter with a good chunk of content. Multiple play modes including story and arcade, plus others. Unlockable characters, each with different vehicles that have their own weapons. A pretty extensive upgrade system that uses an in-game currency that you earn by shooting waves of enemies. This can also be played in co-op for some 2-player fun.

AFTER WAVE DFOWNFALL SCREEN 1

After Wave: Downfall is an arcade shooter that follows the staples of many a shoot ’em up before it. Lots of enemies, lots of bullets and big boss fights. There is nothing here that is done badly, but nothing is done all that well. What you get is a competent title that does what it sets out to do well enough. There are a few niggles. The upgrade system requires a lot of the in-game currency… a lot. This leads to plenty of grinding and replaying the same levels over and over. Then add on the multiple characters that you need to unlock first and all of their unique upgrades. It really is just too much for an arcade shooter like this. You’ll most probably become a bit bored before you unlock and upgrade even half of what the game has to offer. The graphics can get a bit ‘messy’ at times and I did notice a bit of stuttering when there was a lot of action on screen.

AFTER WAVE DFOWNFALL SCREEN 2

Released on the three main consoles, available now and with a price tag of around £13. The core gameplay with After Wave: Downfall is pretty good. Though it does fall a bit short in its execution and has a couple of niggles that prevent it from being as good as it could’ve been. A nice shoot ’em up with plenty of content, gameplay modes, unlockables and upgrades. Maybe just a bit too much though and a very grindy upgrade system can make playing through this more of a chore than a joy. The price is reasonable enough and I played other games recently that are far worse and cost more coin. I found After Wave: Downfall to be a bit of a mixed bag but with more good than bad to make it playable. It’s okay, certainly playable and didn’t need to be held back in terms of review code. I could’ve done a bigger review if I had the code before launch… just saying.