Fightback is a cool game, in an ’80s kind of way. Could probably be more ‘80s, but it’s got the cheesy logo, the Miami Vice-esqe synth track, and even a villain who resembles the anti-hero of the decade, Rutger Hauer. Best of all, Ninja Theory’s first mobile is a beat-em-up side scroller. When you think beat-em-ups, you think ’80s, and you think Double Dragon, and the fun you had co-oping with your best buddy bashing heads with a baseball bat. Double Dragon was radical, dude! It was also pay-to-play (rolls and rolls of quarters), and truth, I would rather pump more quarters into DD than play Ninja Theory’s freemium.
Fightback’s premise is simple. You got a girl to save. You got a nasty villain. You got a city of hoodlums to tame. There are over a hundred levels. Not exactly Karateka. Each level has multiple rounds, with varying number of bad guys to beat.
Fightback’s got some cool stuff (besides the ‘80s glitz). The dark world is derivative but there’s good art work. It’s easy to learn. Tap to punch, swipe to kick, swipe up to jump, and swipe down to crouch. Some moves, like the cyclone kick, are sweet to execute, but complex combos are too often accidents. It’s sometimes difficult to disengage from a melee. Most of my deaths occurred when I couldn’t stop kicking one guy in time to attack his pal behind him. There’s one guy who throws a flaming bottle or something. It’s annoyingly difficult to dodge while fighting his buddies.
There are weapons, too. A baseball bat, a meat cleaver, guns, bazookas, etc. Like Double Dragon, you can salvage weapons from the dead, but you don’t keep them. You only have the weapons you buy, and bullets are expensive so you use sparingly.
Fightback is a typical FTP. It’s got a stamina meter. Each battle takes one bar, which refills at 6 minutes per. To refill immediately, you pay cash. To upgrade and customize your fighter, you pay cash. The in-game cash can be earned by side-game street fights. Each street fight earned me an average of $300. It takes a while to earn enough money to purchase the upgrades needed to win campaign battles. So with over 100 levels, it may take some time unless you pay real cash. How much real cash? $15K of in-game will be $1.99 real money. $15K is not a lot considering a simple one-time boost is about $1K. That’s obviously the business model, but for me to scratch my plastic, the game’s got to be top notch. Unfortunately, the gameplay is repetitive and often annoying.
It’s not clear how much of the ’80s cheesiness Fightback is playing with. It might be a more interesting game if it went all out — the bangs, the one-liners, the glam, spandex. The game’s forgettable, but it brought back some fond memories, and there’s always value in that.