The Takeover PlayStation 4 review: Feats of Rage

Brawlers are making a comeback, and we’re all the more thrilled for it. Nothing beats getting into an old-school fight with an unstoppable army and letting loose with the kind of attacks that make you feel invincible, even for a brief nano-second or two. As if Fight n’ Rage and other indie favorites didn’t push this genre to new heights, Streets of Rage recently came back for a fourth round, and an impressive one at that.

Now we have The Takeover, which makes its arrival on PlayStation 4 (and PlayStation 5) courtesy of the developers at Pelikan13. It doesn’t sound like anything painstakingly original, and, plot-wise, it really isn’t. Essentially, a trio of heavy hitters set to take back the city from a dangerous criminal force, armed to the teeth with weapons. But the beauty of the game is in its design. This isn’t your typical brawler; and, as such, this Takeover thrives as a result.

The game lets you choose between a femme fatale, a former soldier with hulking muscles, or a typical kid with strength and speed to his credit. From there, you set out to beat up thugs with punches and kicks, while also being able to use a firearm with a limited amount of bullets, should the situation get a little sticky. Along the way, you’ll be able to pick up items, including point boosting bonuses, much-needed health and more ammunition.

In typical beat-em-up fashion, The Takeover also lets you store up energy for super attacks. Activate Rage, for example, and you can beat up thugs with much more power, taking them down easier for a limited amount of time. You can also unleash a special attack that clears the screen with fireballs, Golden Axe style.

However where The Takeover differs is with its style of combos. You can mix up punches and kicks quite nicely here to form a number of awesome techniques, as well as grab maneuvers that can deliver additional damage. As a result, the game is far more creative than your usual brawler, and a lot of fun to play. You can also add a friend to the mix in two-player co-op, though the game doesn’t have any sort of online play, sadly. (Maybe with a future patch…)

There’s also some great bonus stages involving vehicles that let you blast opponents off the road, offering some diversity to the usual beat-em-up tactics. These feel like a tribute to the Sega days of old, and it’s great playing through them, as brief as they may be.

Pelikan13 also did a bang-up job with The Takeover’s visuals. Though everything is in 3D, it’s represented nicely with a smooth frame rate, lots of slick looking battle visuals and great stage design. The character design is a bit overshadowy in some places, and a bit bland with some enemies, but overall the game’s a real looker, even without the 2D sprites. I also like some of the super effects, which really shine.

The soundtrack is also excellent. That’s thanks to a number of contributing artists, including Streets of Rage legend Yuzo Koshiro (whose contribution is sweet) and hard-rock cover artist Little V. Give it a listen, you won’t soon regret it.

While I still slightly prefer the greatness of Streets of Rage 4, The Takeover is a wonderful complementary title that goes right alongside it. For twenty bucks, you get some awesome beat-em-up action for you and a friend to enjoy, along with some great bonus stages and challenges to overcome. It’s another great entry in the beat-em-up genre, and one that’s sure to, ahem, take over our free time.

RATING: 8.5 (out of 10)

The Takeover Nintendo Switch review: takin’ it to the Streets

We’re still quite sure how, but beat-em-ups are making a comeback. Not that we don’t welcome them, mind you. Games like Capcom Beat-Em-Up Bundle and Raging Justice have been beacons on a classic genre in gaming. And then there’s Streets of Rage 4, a long-awaited return of a series that hasn’t been seen since the freakin’ ’90s

But this also opens up room for newcomers, especially impressive ones like The Takeover. The buzz behind this game has been minimal, at best. But now that it’s finally making its way to release, we can say it loud and clear – this indie brawler stands among the best in the genre. It may not look the best, but its intentions – not to mention its soundtrack – are truly something.

Swinging Fists

The game comes from Pelikan13, a studio that’s been long working on the racing game 90s Super GT, which, sadly, has yet to see the light of day. However, Takeover shines a spotlight on the retro scene and gives players something they can truly enjoy.

We always wanted to beat up guys named Fin and Breaker, riiiiiight?

The game lets you choose from three different combatants (at first), taking on thugs as you rage through each of the levels before you get to a boss encounter. Usually, this involves someone with a flamethrower or a strength advantage. However, once you figure out their pattern, they’ll be skooshed beneath your boot in no time.

What’s great about The Takeover is its varying gameplay. You have punches, kicks, and energy-draining super moves that you can use. However, the magic lies in combining them all together into slick, effective combos, which keeps things from getting boring. To assure that the enemy doesn’t gain an advantage, you can also unleash a super attack where everyone on the screen gets blasted with an explosion (but not the environment, of course), as well as using a sidearm with limited bullets, in case someone’s too much of a pain for fists.

You can also build up a Rage meter and temporarily boost your strength, excellent for when you need to clean house on overwhelming enemies.

It’s not a perfect system, as sometimes the enemy can get cheap shots in. But it’s got some charm and inventiveness to it; and it’s a lot of fun when two players enter the fray. It may be local co-op only (sadly, no online play), but it’s a real treat when you’ve got a good couch session going on.

Taking Over On Presentation

The visuals for The Takeover may throw off a few players. You’ve got CG models here instead of traditionally animated characters like Streets 4 has; and the levels themselves are rendered in 3D too. But Pelikan13 throws in all sorts of tributes here, including a fight that takes place in an arcade. It’s a little rough around the edges, but the game looks pretty good overall. Plus, the 3D shoot-em-up stage – with Little V playing in the background – is more fun than I expected it to be. It also looks good in both TV and handheld mode, so no matter which way you play, you’re set.

Hey, a rumble in the jungle.

But let’s talk about the soundtrack. It’s remarkable. Whereas Streets 4’s tunes left some people feeling a little mixed, The Takeover has tunes that will please people all around. It features fine contributions from Yuzo Koshiro (yep, the Streets maestro) and Little V, along with other artists, and it captures the vibe of 90’s brawlers perfectly. You’ll want to blast this into your ears for hours on end. The sound effects and voice samples are good as well.

A Brawler Well Worth Your Quarters

Although its visuals are slightly rough and there are no online features to speak of, The Takeover shines thanks to other aspects. Its design hunkers back to the good ol’ days of old-school; the soundtrack is a wonder to behold and worth listening to, and the gameplay has ingenuity going for it in spades. It’s a fun brawler that’ll keep you occupied, and, surprisingly enough, off the streets.

RATING: 8.5/10

Be sure to take it to these streets with Pelikan13’s innovative old-school brawler, The Takeover.

Coffee Crisis PlayStation 4 review: pour one out

It seems everyone is going crazy with retro-themed brawlers these days. DotEmu recently released a fourth chapter in the Streets of Rage series that we’re going nuts over; and soon, Jay and Silent Bob will join the fray with their River City-inspired Mall Brawl. But that isn’t stopping Mega Cat Studios from giving the genre a shot with the neat Coffee Crisis. It may not have the greatest story in the world, but it pours out a lot of fun for those that need their java-themed beat-em-up fix.

The Baristas With a Real Job

There’s an alien invasion happening, and they’re taking all sorts of forms as they attempt to enslave mankind. Leave it to Nick and Ashley, a pair of heroic baristas, to step up and save the world. It ties in with a story that borders on the ridiculous, leaving you wondering, “Uh, where are the superheroes at exactly?”

But never mind. It creates a set-up that works pretty well for Crisis, as you swing away mugs and other weapons at these beings, eventually getting to those responsible. Whether you can hold up for the final fight has yet to be seen, but it doesn’t help that you’re on a coffee high.

Old-School Fun With a Caffeinated Twist

Featuring eight different levels of beat-em-up madness, Coffee Crisis isn’t afraid to fashion itself from old-school brawlers. It may not be as polished as, say, Streets 4 is, but it’s definitely got some inspiration behind it.

Hey, this ball field looks familiar.

The visuals are colorful, looking like something out of a Sega Genesis game. (Fun fact: Mega Cat actually released a physical copy of this game for Sega Genesis, in case you feel like hunting it down.) The animations are also pretty neat, with the baristas looking like their actual selves and the aliens representing some pretty funky human types.

The music is something else, too. Wonderfully remixed with some Genesis-style inspiration, it’s a fun listen, and really offers a throwback to the days of yesteryear. It might even make you want to hunt it down on BandCamp, it’s so much fun.

Challenging, But With Some Fun Mixes

Generally, the gameplay with Coffee Crisis isn’t bad. It lacks in creativity in the beat-em-up department but makes up for it with some engaging encounters and interesting modifiers.

These come from enemy drops, which can change things up dramatically. One minute, there’s a psychedelic effect that seems to resemble drinking too much coffee. (It can happen, just ask our own Eddie Nicholson.) The next, the difficulty spikes up, forcing you to keep on your guard.

As for the challenge, it can go off the chart sometimes. Coffee Crisis may be too daunting for those that aren’t used to the genre, as you can go through lives pretty quickly – even with special moves in your arsenal. Fortunately, you can change up the difficulty however you please; and being able to play alongside a friend in local two-player is cool, too.

Service with a smile — but with the teeth knocked out.

There is also a handful of challenges that will provide some helpful rewards, like an extra life here and there. These will prove beneficial, especially as you get that much closer to the final boss battle. Good luck.

Stir Up a Cup If You’re In For Good Taste

While Streets of Rage 4 remains fresh on our minds as the best brawler at the moment, Coffee Crisis offers up its own fair share of goodness. While it’s a bit harder than expected and the story can be loaded with wayyyy too many coffee puns (is there such a thing?), it makes up for it with a sharp presentation, inventive modifiers, and fun two-player local co-op brawling. If Starbucks is your home away from home, or you just want to enjoy another old-school beat-em-up during your time of quarantine, get yourself a hot cup of this joe.

RATING: 7.5/10

The Coffee Crisis baristas offer up service with a smile, thanks to a fun presentation and gameplay.