Uppers Review – Fight for the Right to Party

    Title: Uppers 
    Developer: Marvelous
    Release Date: October 21, 2020
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: XSEED Games
    Genre: Brawler

Uppers, the PlayStation Vita game that got away. This over-the-top beat em’ up has been one of the most requested games amongst Senran Kagura fans since it first launched in 2016. Now, it has finally been released in the west remastered for PC. A lot has changed in the gaming community since this game was first launched, providing some sense of nostalgia. However, whether that’s enough to warrant playing through this perverted action brawler comes down to the player.

Uppers is set on Last Resort island, which is explained to be home to some of the toughest fighters around. It’s also said that those who rise through the ranks will be adored by all the girls, which is motivation enough for our two protagonists, Ranma and Michiru. Surprisingly though, the narrative also encompasses the other fighters, some of whom are enemies, which gives players a better understanding of why they fight. However, their reasonings are all mostly surface level in terms of depth, and you’ll know exactly where the story is headed by Chapter 4.

The story segments are pretty lengthy, with interactions between characters before and after a fight. The voice acting sounds excellent, and character animations have actually aged well for being an older Vita game. Even though the story is ridiculous and outlandish at times, the game’s cast is robust with support and main characters who appear in nearly every chapter, making these interactions less repetitive.

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This is a good thing considering the stages themselves make up some of the most repetitive brawler stages I have ever played. Your goal is simple, fight everyone until there’s no one left to fight, and then the level is over. Some of the more annoying levels lasted about 2 minutes. However, later in the game, you return to old stages, and they become more extensive with additional areas opening up. Still, you’ll be seeing the same stages quite often.

To break this up, though, are your adoring fans. Girls will group up and ask you to do things for them, which will earn their love and a bonus. These missions are also pretty repetitive in the long run because they sort of repeats, such as takedown three enemies or spin kick four enemies; you’ll be seeing those a lot. However, it does give you something to do other than mashing buttons.

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The battle system features some interesting mechanics. Players can string together light and strong attacks as well as grab attacks. There’s a dodge button to quickly counter an enemy’s attack indicated by a green flash on their head. When you’re getting ganged up on, skill is definitely needed to survive, but it’s also possible to get stun-locked.

The thing about the battles is that they are just way too easy. This has to do with the terrible enemy AI and the fact that you can pretty much just combo and stun every enemy in the game until they are dead. It is most apparent during boss fights who are padded with HP, but you basically just chip away at them without taking damage. In the end, the boss encounters can be pretty dull.

Still, there are more fighting options where you can power up and launch heavy-hitting attacks against an enemy. There’s also a Switch maneuver where you can tag in another character. It’s not completely necessary, but again, it’s something to do get through the mindless stages, which is why you’ll be utilizing all the environmental gimmicks such as launching cars or dunking an enemy through a basketball hoop.

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Now, if you know what you’re getting yourself into with Uppers, then this next part won’t really surprise. However, there’s plenty of ways to interact with female support characters by dressing them up and spending quality time with them. The more you take them into battle, the more they will love you, and you’ll unlock additional missions and some sexy little animations. Additionally, if you receive a love letter, an enemy may counter you and through you face-first into you’re support character’s chest. Alternatively, if you die, you can regain some health after you fall in their crouch.

Additionally, players can play a panty slots mini-game to unlock new panties. This is a straightforward event that happens during normal gameplay, where you’ll flip the skirt of three female characters. It’s fun, but try not to get caught during it because it’s really tough to explain to the uninitiated. Other options include training, which is a basic way to increase character stats and combos, and a shopping area to purchase clothes for your characters. You’re also able to increase the difficulty of levels to replay them, which you’ll need to do at some points to unlock later chapters.

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The entire experience is pretty much what you’d expect from a game by the Senran Kagura developers. The plot never goes too deep, but some scenes will leave you smiling. The more unique elements of the game are found within the idea that you are fighting merely to get girls’ attention and the fact that an entire narrative can unfold from that.

The PC port is exceptionally well done, and the character models look great. Sadly, the opening animation is the first thing many will see, but its low-quality uprez doesn’t reflect how good the character designs in-game look. Still, the level design themselves is boring and gets old after the first two chapters, which means it’s probably best to take your time with this game.

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Uppers was almost the game that got away, but now that’s it’s here, I can’t say that I’m completely excited about it. What’s important is that it features a robust battle system and a zany story that will satisfy the developer’s fans. Furthermore, as perverted as they are, the game mechanics can be an insanely fun distraction as you button mash your way through each level. Thankfully, this PC port is clearly the best way to experience this four-year-old brawler for those who waited.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.