Heavily inspired by classic 16-bit brawlers, The Takeover is a brand new “punch everything in the face and move to the right beat’em up” that looks and plays like a title that was never released during the early 90s. If you enjoy the genre, especially when fighting side-by-side with a co-op partner, then there is a lot to like here. For modern players, gameplay will be repetitive and mostly unexciting.
Perhaps the most curious aspect of The Takeover’s release is its timing. Released just weeks after the long awaited Streets of Rage 4, this smaller studio title is bounded to be overshadowed and neglected by Lizardcube’s sequel. The similarly between these two series is uncanny, with one main character that could be swapped between both games and no one would think twice. Even the stories are similar, with a group of vigilantes trying to mount a rescue of a kidnapped person, fighting a throng of evil gang members along the way.
Gameplay is slow paced and methodical and all movement is deliberate and takes time to execute. This snail paced combat is only amplified by the fact that each stage can take a good 15 minutes to complete. 15 minute stages become a slog when combat is little more than button mashing the same enemies, trying to avoid their constant attempt to annoyingly pincer attack the player. The only saving grace to the combat is the ability to link punches and kicks into combos, rewarding the player with bigger damage and a cooler flourish. Unfortunately, each battle is won by tapping these buttons in any succession until the stage is complete; no strategy is needed. The worst part is the constant enemy fodder. One mindless bad guy after another, the player will experience all the combat system has to offer by the end of the first stage. Most times the player will even fight multiple versions of the same exact character at the same time. Either these baddies have more clones than the stormtroppers in Star Wars, or there wasn’t enough time or budget to create more assets. There are no RPG leveling features either so don’t expect to unlock any new moves or extras, although there are a couple of unlockable characters.
Fighting the exact same enemies is tedious, uneventful, and boring but there are a couple of super moves the player can unleash. Once a couple meters are filled, the player can execute a special move by hitting both punch and kick buttons at the same time, and a rage mode can be activated to increase strength, speed, and defense. Cheesing this system, I was able to punch and kick my way to each stage ending boss, then activate the rage mode, and finish off the boss without any effort. These special abilities add some much needed flavor to the combat system but can sway the balance even further.
Outside of a couple shooting mini games (which are actually the most exciting and best parts of the entire game), gameplay is a repetitive slog of beating the same enemies using the same moves. The visuals are also composed of these strange sprite-based 3D rendered models that wind up looking out of place and too shiny. They don’t necessary look bad, just odd, like a sequel to Pit Fighter or something. Thankfully, the comic book cutscenes are nicely done but then the game forces the player to sit through long load times with a static, boring, non-interactive loading screen.
The Takeover feels like an early beta. The foundation is there but now the gameplay tweaks need to happen to create something special. Unfortunately, this one-trick pony offers no flavor and gameplay remains tasteless throughout. Fans of the genre might not mind the mindless chore-ish work of finishing the campaign in a couple hours but any modern player will crave something a bit more.
Not As Good As: your favorite Streets of Rage or Golden Ax title
Also Try: Dungeon Punks (Xbox One)
On Par With: Brawl Brothers via the Switch SNES Online app