"Retro" doesn't always mean "good".
Asskickers. A menace to society, or saviors of the modern world? Or are they just video game icons? They've been a part of the pixelated landscape since the early days of gaming, but really took hold back in the NES and Genesis eras. Lately, though, there have only been a few noteworthy games in the classic "beat 'em up" genre: originals like Castle Crashers and Shank, and new-age titles like the Lego series.
One of the few games available for Mac, The Asskickers is a throwback to the good ol' days of retro head-bangers, with throngs of frat guys, sorority girls, rent-a-cops, and whatever punk fighters to stop you from kicking any more ass. The story is touted for being… well, deeper than "stop the guy" or "save the girl", but from what I've gathered it's really as simple as "I have to be an Asskicker, as that's what my teacher would have me do!"
But that doesn't matter much – it never has in this genre anyway – and it all comes down to how it plays… which, in this case, is super simple. One attack button, one special attack, and a couple weapons make up the arsenal, and when holding a weapon you can't jump, or drop it, or use your special; you're stuck walking and swinging/shooting your taser. At least every character has an honestly unique handling style. Alex is the balanced fighter; Diane is the quick one; and Marcus is a bruiser.
At the very least, it ain't terrible to look at. The stages are colorful and feel larger than they are, with some nice detail on the smaller and insignificant items on desks and in backgrounds. They're big enough that, even with baddies flooding the screen, it still feels so empty. The environments have character, but that loses some luster when there's nothing in them. But the characters that show up have some interesting traits in their hand-drawn, pseudo-amateur appearance… I don't know why every baddie seems to have a massive nose, but it makes for good knuckle-focused target practice.
Maybe it's because I played it on a Mac, but the short answer to the question of play is… meh. Using the keyboard controls is easy enough, though it's not as fun playing with directional buttons and a WASD set-up. I couldn't get it to work with my universal pad (which is, essentially, a PSOne pad via USB) in any way, so I was stuck with the keyboard.
That, like the story, doesn't matter much when players discover the swarming plethora of bugs littered throughout the game that can cripple or even out-and-out kill the program. It took multiple attempts and figuring out the maze-like setting of the fourth level, just to have the software lock up in mid-boss battle (and then later after the fight on another occasion as I… well, kicked the boss in the ass repeatedly). The battles are filled with floods of the same frat boys, sorority girls, fat old men, security guards… it can wear on a player to fight only a handful of baddies. It gives me flashbacks of Fairytale Fights.
The whole game is simply broken. Borderline unplayable. Glitches that had me walking off the mandatory track, teleporting behind immovable environmental obstacles, getting infinitely caught behind some stationary invisible-border barriers, fully locking up… The game is around average without glitches, but as it stands, I can't get through a stage without anticipating a bug that blocks me from further progress. Top that off with a few modes that have no record-keeping (the time-trial and survival modes don't keep scores, so they're strictly "play this when you're done with the game and don't care anymore") and I see no reason to keep this on my machine. I'm afraid of having to start everything window I have open from the very beginning… which happened twice in the process of writing this review.
Quality assurance is a beautiful thing, people. It keeps sprites on the screen, weapons able to be picked up when available always, and everything working as they should. I don't know if all was alright in Windows, but playing on a Mac… well, don't bother.