Switch version tested
Review code provided
The TakeOver is a 2016 side-scrolling beat’em up that looks to step back into the ring on Nintendo Switch. Developed by Pelikan13 it draws inspiration, with a lot of imitation, from the old school greats of yesteryear, including Final Fight and Streets of Rage – to name drop just a few. With classic gameplay that mixes in some contemporary elements, does The TakeOver warrant a look above the recently released Streets of Rage 4?
The game opens to a scrolling neon-filled skyline view of Steel Haven, USA. As the camera descends the neon glow is replaced by a city on fire, at war with itself and riddled with crime. The crimelords that encompass the back streets have united for one final takeover and only a select few have the courage to stand up against their cancerous grasp. Our protagonist, Ethan Rivers, is a renegade cop on a mission to save his daughter who has mysteriously disappeared. Aided by his girlfriend Megan and brother-in-arms Connor this will be their most brutal battle ever. The cutscene is full of colour and really pops on the Switch in handheld mode, strangely it uses a different visual style to the rest which recapitulates the storyline between the seven stages. In these, you will be given story elements via a comic book panel which I found more favourable. All cutscenes are in essence a series of stills that employ sliding images, crafty transitions and perfectly timed camera wobble to give the illusion of movement – something even Michael Bay would be proud of.
With the basic plot detailed, and The TakeOver is pretty much your genre standard but that’s ok, its time for some action. You have the option of Arcade, Survival and Practice alongside a splattering of other gameplay settings including a bonus mode titled Challenge which is unlocked after finishing the main story. Pick from one of the three characters and begin this take-back of the city, much like the aforementioned Streets of Rage you will find each player has their own USP and stats to match. Ethan is the all-rounder, Megan has better speed at the cost of power and Conner who becomes the yin to Megan’s yang as the slow tank-like brute. Either side of the main three are some unlockable tiles which add a fourth character adding replayability.
The seven stages are split across several subsections. Backdrops range from dark city streets to cramped arcades, shoreline ports and traditional oriental looking locals. The backgrounds are nicely detailed and have a lot of lighting and weather effects on show, sometimes they do become overbearing causing your character to get lost in the action. The team have done a decent job of blending 3D backgrounds and HD pre-rendered sprite character models into a visually pleasing package. Just watch the trailer to get a flavour of what to expect, I forced that experience upon another one of our writers and received one the greatest quotes in return;
It’s like someone has shoved Streets of Rage, Final Fight, Street Fighter, After Burner and Out Run into a blender with the killer whale from Sonic Adventure and hoped for the best!
And to be perfectly honest, that sentiment encapsulates The TakeOver. Bonus segments will have you charging down the motorway in a fully armed vehicle or soring through the bright blue sky in the cockpit of a fighter plane. It’s absurd, silly and over the top while being fun and we all need a bit of silliness from time to time.
Everything seems to be holding up so far but the storyline is a mere by-product in the genre with gameplay mechanics taking the brunt of the responsibility. Thankfully The TakeOver holds it’s own for the most part. Each character has their own style of play and move set, albeit the button configuration remains. Jump, kick, punch and a mid-special are mapped to the front buttons with movement suited to the d-pad opposed to the analogue. Each enemy defeated will drop either health, money or XP style boosts that help to fill both a RAGE and Special meter. Get in closer to grapple and throw or double-tap to dash, both will come in handy when backed into a corner. The opportunity to string together some over the top combos will see you hitting the number one spot on the leaderboard in no time. Each character can also collect ammo for a weapon and pick up additional guns or knives en route by smashing crates of loot.
After taking down a variety of baddies the inevitable boss battle closes each stage proceeded by a little banter back and forth. Bosses naturally will have a bit more fight in them compared to the standard grunts but can be disposed of relatively quickly once the pattern of attack is mastered. Remember to use the RAGE and Specials meter while limiting the mid-special attack, it will slightly reduce your health but get you out of a tricky situation so use wisely. Specials are great fun to witness as the field of play erupts in a blaze of glory. The TakeOver’s biggest frustration comes when you don’t quite line up an attack, you chosen character becomes locked in an air-punching frenzy while you miss everything in sight before inevitably getting pummelled to the ground.
The audio in The TakeOver is generally good, the soundtrack is fitting featuring the work of Yuzo Koshiro and each attack connects with a satisfying oomph. The battle can be shared with a friend in multiplayer although some minor issues are present. Loading times can be on the slow side with the occasional frame rate stutter but the developers have already identified these niggles and have put in a patch request with Nintendo, which could be ready for launch but didn’t break the game in its current version.
The TakeOver is a mix of the classic scrolling beat’em ups we loved when growing up. While it offers little in the way of innovation, gameplay is solid and the mechanics are, for the most part, well oiled. The storyline is a by-product of the genre and at no point did I feel anything toward Ethan’s mission other than to kick some ass. Considering The TakeOver was originally released in 2016 I can’t help but feel that its arrival on Nintendo Switch will be overshadowed by the recently released Streets of Rage 4, which is a shame. The TakeOver retails at a slightly lower price point than the aforementioned which may just give it a fighting chance.
TBG Score: 7/10
Platform: PC, Nintendo, PlayStation
Release Date: 04/06/2020
No. of Players: 1-2
Category: Fighting, Arcade
Publisher: Antonios Pelekanos
Download link: eShop