Bully Beatdown (PC) review with stream
Zero satisfaction in victory
Too Much of a Bad Thing
The world is a tough place. For many all they want to do is escape this and let their mind wonder in a fantasyland, and video games are a perfect outlet for that kind of relaxation and relief. They can be whatever or whomever they want to be, and go on adventures or just have any kind of wish fulfillment they want. To join that ideal Almighty Games puts you in the role of the downtrodden “fat kid” and lets you live out the fantasy of retaliation and delivering justice to your oppressors.
Beyond the tactless theme of the game, the gameplay really wears on you. To begin, the controls are so loose and delayed that it makes even moving the character around a real chore. The real downside is the attacks however since they have terrible range, and the hitboxes are all over the place. Attacks are the one thing that you really can’t do wrong in a Beat Em’Up type game, that has to be the one shining point in the darkness of a game in this genre. The basic attacks are hampered further by the growth of your skills, which can only be done by repeated attacks. In order to get stronger, you need to fight more, which makes a lot of sense on paper but when your wailing on the grunts of an area for minutes at a time with little to no damage it totally ruins the experience. Even with the addition of special attacks, which are usually flashy, dangerous, and damaging, we instead have things like rolling like a boulder, or that kid from HOOK. While its good for moving around faster, it immediately stops when hitting someone and brings you to a stop and stun locks you so your enemy always gets a free hit in.
While you’re spending forever trying to kill someone, you can however admire the background and the stages on the whole which are actually quite well made. One of the drawbacks that even many classic Beat Em’ups see is the lack of a varied background, which many using the same one repeatedly, or backtracking just to use recycled content. However, here there are new stages everywhere, and the placement of the destructible items all around really lends to the image of being in the “real world” and having to smash through normal items in places where they would normally be. The cafeteria has tables, garbage, and food, while the museum has sculptures and art, and exhibits all feel great to utterly destroy in your wake. The artwork for the characters even have a nice style to them that feels cartoony, but doesn’t distract you and puts the focus on the game.
I originally played this game when it was called “Fat Kid” which also was not its first name, and itself was a re-release. Now that name has been scrubbed from steam, and now goes by “Bully Beatdown” it hasn’t changed much, and that’s unfortunate. Having a game give power to the player they wouldn’t have in real life is basic to any video game, but when you do that it needs to pay off when you play the game. Here, you are cliché fat kid who wants to date the prom queen, but are beset on all sides by bullies of every shape and form. You fight them, and even when you win the comic style panels that tell the story doesn’t even show you victorious, or have the bad learn anything, they just end things abruptly and don’t let you feel your win at all. So we have a “hero” that literally checks every cliché about being the fat kid, that uses powers and attacks that only fit to reinforce that, all to not get any satisfaction at all when beating up his bullies, and even becomes what he supposedly hates as the game goes on. This is one of the most unsatisfying games I have played in a long time and only makes things worse by promising to champion a section of people who needs this kind of release, only to ruin it.