Back in the day, there was a popular genre of videogame called the ?beat ?em up?. As the name would suggest, your main goal is to beat up a bunch of thugs as you advance through the levels. Unbound Saga was originally a PSP game and has made its way over to XBLA. While it may offer the classic flavor of the beat ?em up, it also points out the monotony of the genre and why in today?s gaming world it?s not enough to keep gamers satisfied.
The main character is big tough guy named Rick and he is somehow aware that he?s trapped in an endless world of comic books?and he?s sick of it. He wants out, and it just so happens a chick named Lori shows up with some map of how to escape and find The Maker (or the guy who draws all this crap). As you brawl through various comic books and settings, you encounter a variety of odd and sometimes amusing enemies, but they all mostly have the same moves. You can switch between Rick and Lori during combat. Rick is slow but powerful with bone-crushing moves and the ability to grab almost anything lying around and use it as a weapon, including other thugs. Lori is more like a ninja with quickness and abilities such as poison gas grenades and turning invisible in certain areas called ?shadow zones?. You can upgrade and earn new moves and abilities by collecting tokens during combat.
The artwork is done well and the animation is sharp. It?s amusing to see a human hand show up and ?draw? more enemies on the screen as you battle, but that can get annoying as you think you?ve cleared the screen only to find more guys being drawn in. The voice acting is also done well. You can hear the exhaustion in Rick?s voice as he questions the absurdity of the situations he finds himself in, but the player may be feeling the same way as you battle through a seemingly endless amount of enemies. While the new moves do add some variety to your attacks, there still isn?t much to do but continually pummel goons. If you want a grueling battle that?s fine, but if you were looking for innovative gameplay look elsewhere.
There are some awesome old school games you can look up: Bad Dudes, Double Dragon, and (my personal favorite) Final Fight. Unbound Saga owes its roots to these types of games, but it somehow doesn?t capture the excitement of taking on gangs of thugs with your bare hands. For 800 MS Points, it might not be worth the cash considering there are other beat’em up alternatives on the XBLA. It certainly can provide a challenge, but many gamers today may not have the attention span for modern side-scrolling beat ?em ups such as this.