If there’s one thing that I can state by this point in time, it’s that if you want to make a brawler, it’s going to have to stand out especially with the tough competition out there. Coming to us from developer Bullets and publishers XSEED and Marvelous, Uppers is the story of two tough guys on an island that recognizes strength above all else and if you want that girl to notice you? You’d better be tougher than the rest!
Very much upfront, if you’re looking for something serious, you won’t find it here. That said, if you’re looking for something fun and easy enough to settle into for several hours? You’re in the right place. Uppers is mainly the story of Ranma and Michiru and their journey to beat the crap out of everyone stronger than them on the island known as Last Resort which prides itself on being a paradise for the strong. For Michiru, it’s about being the toughest. For Ramna? Michiru may or may not have lit a fire under him by telling him if he really wants to find love, well ‘round these parts? Girls only look at the strongest. Fire lit for the sake of love, Ramna finally gives into Michiru and hilarity and unrealistic situations ensue.
Now for the big thing. Uppers walks a very fine line, but it works. From a gameplay perspective, there isn’t that much that you actually do. From the main “hub”, you can buy a few outfits for Ramna, Michiru and your “Princesses” (more on this later), view a collection gallery, or start the next mission. In the missions, you can easily replay any already completed ones to get a better rank which you’ll want to do as without it, certain chapters will remain locked to you basically forcing you to get better if you want to see the end. In combat, you can light attack, heavy attack, throw, dodge, block, and swap characters. That’s it.
From a basic perspective Uppers uses a very, very simple system which was even more apparent to me having recently come from the Yakuza Series which is probably at this point a King in the brawler realm on multiple fronts. How Uppers gets around being so basic but still working very well though is that the stages are not very long and there’s a fair amount of environmental interactions to do other moves such as throwing people at neon signs, kicking a bunch of missiles over, knocking out classroom walls or slamming enemies through basketball hoops. It’s fun and it’s only amped up by a weird system which works because of what Last Paradise represents.
In every fight there’ll be a crowd of girls watching those fighting and demanding to be satisfied and entertained. Calls from doing light attacks, to comboed light and heavy, to breaking a wall, knocking a car over, or just throwing someone. Each of these actions will increase how much energy they are throwing your way and if you do really well, you get love letters and, having played the Senran Kagura series and not being surprised by much anymore, a panty slot machine. As you do these actions, the slot machine can come into play and if you get three matches, that set of panties is added into the available “catalogue” for your Princess to wear.
Princesses, unlike the rest of the fangirls just waiting for fights to spark around the island, are women who follow you into battle while granting you bonuses. As you fight and defeat more enemies, your chosen Princess at that time will level up granting you more bonuses such as more attack power for light and heavy attacks. There are a few to suit playstyles, but, with the playstyle being limited to mostly just light and heavy attacks or throwing for the most part, it really comes down to what aspect you want upgraded for yourself.
Otherwise, that’s all there really is to it. Uppers is simple, but it works. The only complaint I would have is that it often felt slow as in the combat and general movement could have been sped up a bit. The speed of gameplay makes even short and sweet stages take some time if only because you have to “run” over to the next batch of enemies and they feel so far away even if they logistically aren’t.