A Delightfully Splendid 16-Bit Romp

The past few years have been a booming age for the realm of fighting games. With the rise of the eSports world, companies and developers are providing world tours and large-scale tournaments to further branch their titles into the populace of the gaming world. The incline of popularity has thus spawned a deluge of new fighting titles, all looking to carve their tiny niche in the fighting world. While most titles will provide the latest innovations in graphics and fight mechanics, sometimes it’s nice to rewind the clock a few decades and travel back to a simpler, more classic time.

A quick look at Roof Rage might have you considering which early generation console this was ported from, but is in fact a brand new game from the developers at Early Melon. Roof Rage is billed as fast paced, easy to pick, but hard to master. With a cast of 13 characters, fighters will do battle on top of various roofs from around the world, with up to 8 fighters dueling to be the top fighter.

The diversity of characters is a warm welcome into Roof Rage. Each fighter beams with charm and personality on the battlefield, with some characters carrying friendly similarities from titles such as Street Fighter and Samurai Shodown, to Soul Calibur and movies like Léon: The Professional. Scenes of skill and carnage play out on a picturesque palette of 13 different stages. Shady slums and towering apartments, perfected dojos to a moonlit dohyō, the stages are as pretty to admire as it is to fight among them. Stages in Roof Rage take place, if you can guess, on the rooftops of each location; with sprawling heights causing certain doom to those who take too far of a plunge, so fighters will not only have to deal with their opponents, but the hazards of each level as well.

Roof Rage may have a simple style aesthetically, but the depth for each fighter is surprisingly deep, even if some fighters feel better equipped than others. Using a multitude of techniques and abilities, fighters feel unique to cater to a player’s specific tastes, but the control scheme is easy enough to get a common grasp for any fighter. Attacks are delegated to two buttons, a normal and special attack, but each d-pad direction supplies a new move. Fighters can block, parry, and dash all with one button; with each character given a multitude of movement options, either through normal jumps, or attacks that provide a boost of momentum. While there isn’t a provided combo list, the amount of tinkering that can be done to make devastating combos is an adrenaline-shot of fun when learning each fighter.

While Roof Rage does provide a standard Arcade Mode for single player fighters to enjoy, multiplayer battles are the cream-of-the-crop. Battles can range from the standard one vs. one online face-off, to all-out brawls with up to 8 local players in free-for-all or team battles. Each fight can be custom tailored, adding stocks and more HP to lengthen the fight. AI fighters are also available, with 9 different difficulties to test your skills. While I commend Early Melon on their ability to pull 8 human and/or AI fighters on one screen to impose absolute hilarious chaos, most stages were not built to hold that many fighters, with maybe two to three stages comfortably able to house that much movement.

Not all the chaos found in Roof Rage is as enjoyable, as the presence of numerous bugs and issues linger. Hitting certain areas while doing special attacks can cause fighters to constantly rise into the air. In the pre-game lobby playing as Punk, it’s possible to overload the lobby with his projectiles and have a few already be in place when the stage get selected. Certain moves can clip fighters into the stage, locking them into place where getting hit causes your fighter to zip off the stage at ridiculous speeds. The worst offender that I encountered repeatedly was getting hit while inputting a move can have a fighter “lock” into place, where their visual sprites may be frozen but still playable. At times, the fighter could be stuck crouched until an opponent hits them out of it, or in rarer cases, the fighter’s only way out is if the stock is eventually lost.

For the fighting game initiated, Roof Rage plays out like the 2D, 16-bit love child of Super Smash Bros. and Tekken with some unfortunate flaws. For everyone else, it’s a romping good party fighter where the competition and shenanigans can bring out hours of fun and heated battles, which is plenty good for its asking price.

Reviewed on PC/Steam.