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Tokyo Beat Down Package Art

Tokyo Beat Down

Despite being one of the largest cities in the world, Tokyo is also one of the safest; crimes are few and far between, guns are all but nonexistent, and ordinary citizens can freely move about town at any time of the day with little to no fear for their physical, or financial, well being. All of this makes Tokyo a delightful place to live, but it also sounds a little boring.

Thankfully Atlus has localized a more colorful take on the Japanese capital. Tokyo Beat Down is an old school brawler that ignores all the real world crime statistics in favor of streets overrun with violent, heavily armed criminals plotting explosive terrorist attacks on the heart of the city. Tokyo’s only hope is the Beast Cops, a unit of equally well armed and violent officers willing to do anything it takes to stop crime. If this sounds a little clichéd, fear not -- Tokyo Beat Down is pure parody.


Tokyo Beat Down incorporates two visual styles. Story segments are presented with detailed, hand-drawn art that emphasize the game’s over the top approach. Each of the main characters has a distinct look that hearkens back to classic movie and TV cops, from Clint Eastwood to Don Johnson. The only real negative thing about these segments is the fact that most screens are reused frequently throughout the surprisingly long story.

For actual gameplay, Tokyo Beat Down looks significantly less impressive; the 3D engine renders poorly detailed levels and does an even worse job of animating the character models. One major problem is the fact that the camera is zoomed too far in on the action, generally leaving you with little time to get ready for incoming threats. Several boss fights pull the camera out and you are left wondering why they didn’t put the camera there for the entire game.


Tokyo Beat Down sticks to the middle of the road when it comes to audio design. The sound effects include standard punching and shooting sounds, but the music is appropriately funky as a parody of 1970s cop flicks. As hilarious as the dialogue is, some well performed voice work would have been a great addition.


Tokyo Beat Down is actually at its best when you are not controlling any characters. The side scrolling beat-em-up levels are bookmarked by brilliantly written, absolutely hilarious story sequences that range from incredibly random to wonderfully pithy parody. Consider the main character, Lewis Cannon, who is exactly as his name suggests, the perfect fusion of every corny action/cop movie hero you have ever seen; he is a violent idiot and the interplay between him and the other archetypal characters is the highlight of the game. Other nice gags include the random touches added wherever the developers could squeeze them in, such as the nondescript cop appropriately named Plot Progressing Officer. The fine localization team at Atlus has once again proven itself as one of the most capable in the industry.

Once the stories are told and laughs are had, the actual game begins and the experience becomes mediocre at best and frustrating at worst. Like most brawlers, you travel left to right to get from one end of the level to the other, while occasionally going up or down to line up your attacks. Thankfully the pace is quickened by the inclusion of a sprint feature that is activated by double tapping either left or right on the D-pad. Dealing with enemies is also relatively simple, X and Y punch and kick, B is for jumping, R guards and holding L pulls out your gun, which can be fired with either X or Y. There are a few other offensive options, such as special moves and throws that require button combinations that generally don’t register.

Another major problem is getting knocked down, which generally leads to being surrounded by enemies who flail away over your body, constantly knocking you back down and leading to many frustrating moments. This is not too much of a problem in the long run simply because the enemies generally do very little damage and, with the exception of a few boss fights, the game presents little real challenge. The only gameplay elements worth praising are the dodge feature, which is a great help when dealing with annoying gun-toting bad guys, and the option to visit other parts of town before a mission for more humorous dialogue and to search for helpful but largely unnecessary health and combo power ups.




From a pure gameplay perspective, Tokyo Beat Down is quite the let down and would have been hard to recommend even back during the golden age of arcade style beat-em-ups; genre classics like Final Fight and Battletoads offer more interesting combat and better overall design. If you absolutely must have a new brawler, then this game is perfectly functional, but it falls short in overall quality.

However, one cannot write off Tokyo Beat Down’s actual entertainment value; the dialogue and story perfectly capture the absurdity of so many police and action movies and is legitimately funny. If you can suffer the often frustrating gameplay and have an appreciation for parody, then Tokyo Beat Down at the very least warrants a playthrough, but everyone else should definitely try to play it before risking a purchase.

final score 6.7/10

Staff Avatar Andy Hoover
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"There's SAND on my boots!"

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