Arcade Archives Vendetta Review (Switch): Keep Scrollin’ Scrollin’ Scrollin’

The 90s called and asked if you're up for some classic side-scrolling beat 'em up action in Arcade Archives Vendetta, for the Nintendo Switch.

It won’t take long to explain the premise behind Arcade Archives Vendetta: it’s a side-scrolling beat ’em up originally by Konami in 1991. You play one of four fighters that make up The Cobras and go on a rampage to clean the streets (with fisticuffs).

One of your members, Kate, has been kidnapped by The Dead End Gang. Though their name wouldn’t make them a threat when it comes to aspirations, their crew of chainsaw wielders, anchor carriers, and gun-toters are a force where you’ll want three of your best mates on board.

The Cobras are made up of Blood, Hawk, Sledge and Boomer, and they’re all loosely based on famous action heroes of the time. Hawk was based on Hulk Hogan, Sledge is Mr-T, Boomer a Jean-Claude Van Damme type, and apparently, Blood was Wesley Snipes. I only know about the latter as I looked it up. Snipes didn’t make a name for himself as an action star until Demolition Man (1993), so surprised that the character was linked to the tax dodger.

Arcade Archived Vendetta Review

For me, Hawk was the go-to character back in the day. I was an Ultimate Warrior fan, but Hulkamania was the next best thing. When it comes to Arcade Archives Vendetta, Blood was often the first choice, simply for mashing the button on each continue – his avatar appears first. Do note, this is a 90s Konami game, so it can be pretty tough for a five-stage game. As a kid, I must have squandered a fortune on this, Mortal Kombat and Space Harrier.

Arcade Archives Vendetta - Hulkamania
Hulkamania! (kinda). Source: Nintendo

What made Vendetta so unique was the variety of weapons and interactions. Besides knives, baseball bats and chains, you can throw flour (that’s what I assumed it was as a kid…), molotovs and knock down enemies off a platform with a rewarding scream that would make Lord Wilheim proud. Besides the classic Final Fight, there wasn’t anything like it, at least from memory. Even better, getting up close would get people in a headlock, or repeatedly kneeing them, picking them up, or lobbing them into the air on command. In the 90s, when WWF (WWE) was real, this was, and still is, so much fun.

So how does it feel to play the game again? Brilliant. This Arcade Archives effort by Hamster is what we used to call ‘arcade perfect’. Without going to my local arcade to check if they have a cabinet out the back and compare notes, this is a spot-on recreation. The years haven’t been good as a player, though. The number of coins I’d pump into this was crazy, and it was faithfully recreated here, though without spending a penny. You can essentially have unlimited credits just by pressing the L button, and this is what got me through the whole game for the first time in my life. There are difficulty options, which I didn’t look into until after finishing, but to be honest, I wouldn’t have dropped the level lower than the default.

Cobras For Life!

Arcade Archives Vendetta is a simple set-up. Each character can punch, kick, do a special move (not on par with a Streets of Rage special), and pressing punch and kick together will perform a jumping attack. Aside from the wealth of weapons on offer, you can interact with some of the scenery for comical results. But the thing troubling me here was why weren’t there any scanlines? After initially playing through the game, I was thrilled to see that there was a configurable option in the pause menu and numerous other tweaks to the presentation.

Arcade Archives Vendetta Review Switch - Boom.. er
Sonic Boom…er. Source: Nintendo

Side-scrolling beat ’em ups are repetitive – we all know that, so once you finish the game, then what? Yes, up to four players can jump in, but it’s a co-op, not a versus. Fortunately, Arcade Archives Vendetta is jam-packed with features such as online ranking, challenge modes and four variations of the game – two Japanese, two International. There’s also a Caravan Mode where you have five minutes to compete for a hi-score without saving. There’s also the option to use a rapid-fire configuration without being penalised, but the results will state you used them. Who uses rapid-fire in a beat ’em up other than for Blanka or E Honda in SFII?

Bear in mind that this is a retro game, so if you’re new to the title, or not a fan of old school games, this won’t blow you away and maybe even irritate you with the Wilhelm-like screams and relatively challenging gameplay by default. That being the case, Vendetta is not for you. If, however you count Final Fight and Double Dragon as some of your favourite brawlers, you’ll love this. 

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