The Asskickers is an old school beat-’em-up, arcade-style game with modern graphics. It can be played in both single-player and local 2-player co-op. The game offers three modes: story, survival, and time attack (time attack is single-player only), letting players choose between three characters: Alex (balanced), Diane (fast but weak hitter), and Markus (slow, heavy-hitter). As far as beat-’em-ups go, Asskickers has an attractive visual style. Though the characters are 2D, the art has a hand-drawn style with an edgy comic-book look. The story of the campaign mode is pretty straight-forward: the Asskickers have found themselves in an unfair situation where they’re being framed. To clear their name, they must fight their way to justice, dishing out pain and punishment to authoritative and powerful members of society. Political commentary? I’m down with that. But how does the story mode actually play?
Unfortunately, rather poorly. The first frustration I ran into was the “depth” of the screen, meaning the different planes that enemies can approach you on. Unless your character is on the exact same plane as the enemy you want to hit, you can’t hit them. While this is nothing new in beat em ups, the problem in the Asskickers seemed exacerbated. Enemies, of course, have no problem telling exactly which plane you’re on. This led to numerous life losses and game overs on my part. Game overs mean you have to start all the way from the beginning of the level. The controls are also often very unresponsive. I’d be mashing my “attack” key, but my button presses would not be lining up at all with my character’s attacks.
Another major sticking point was that a couple times I had to completely start the game over due to some sort of glitch. As is the case with many beat-’em-ups, the levels are divided into stages. Once you defeat all the enemies within a few screens or so, a little “GO!” arrow appears which allows you to move onto the next area. Sometimes, however, all enemies appeared to be vanquished, but I didn’t get the license to move on. I assume that enemies were stuck off the screen (they frequently leave the screen and return) to a place where I couldn’t hit them, and since the level was not able to be cleared, I couldn’t progress.