Okinawa Rush Preview: With Karate I’ll Kick Your Ass

Due in Q3 2021, here's a look at the Okinawa Rush demo currently available on Steam. If you like side-scrolling beat 'em ups from yesteryear, you'll LOVE this.

Okinawa Rush is one of the best action games I’ve played of late. Action is used here in the broad sense as there’s brawling, platforming, combo’s you’d expect to see in a one-on-one beat ’em up and a pure adrenaline rush.

Before you get your top knot in a twist, this opinion is based on the demo freely available on Steam. If you haven’t played it yet, forget this write up and download it. Well, do me a favour and read some of this, seeing as I’ve typed it all up now.

There are three characters in Okinawa Rush, but you only get to play Hiro. Only isn’t a bad thing; this guy makes Bruce Lee look like a piece of balsa. I assume you can play it on the keyboard, but based on the moves, plug/pair up a controller.

Okinawa Rush Preview

Before you face a seemingly endless wave of ninjas and deities that form the Black Mantis clan, you get to try out some moves. There’s no punch, kick and jump button, Okinawa Rush is a bona fide Street Fighter II side scroller in the shell of First Samurai.

If you haven’t played the 16-bit First Samuraiwatch this YouTube longplay on the Amiga

Okinawa Rush preview - Peace
Peace. Source: Steam

These moves range from some karate punches and kicks through to the equivalent of a tiger uppercut, and they’re just so natural to perform. That said, when facing a row of ninjas, there’s something satisfying about button mashing.

Plot-wise, it’s a simple affair of the enemy clan wanting to steal a secret scroll written by your master. Think that Thanos saga in The Avengers, and it’s fair to say that you need to keep this scroll away from them. The only snap here is the sound of breaking bones.

Ancient Scroll(ing)

Okinawa Rush is a side-scroller, so you move from left to right through some typical Japanese-style scenery. But this game from Sokaikan and No Gravity Games is a fantasy, too, with some demonic foes and gravity-defying jumping that’s straight out of a Zang Yimou film. 

Hiro will practically glide across the screen as if propelled by some magic beans, but the moment he engages with the enemy, it’s intense fists of furies. The combat is so satisfying; you appreciate that the developers and added swarms and swarms of test dummies/ninjas to master your moves.

Okinawa Rush preview - Kill Bob
Kill Bob. Source: Steam

But while the controls feel effortless, it’s a challenging game and pretty chaotic. As admirable as it is to increase your combos, just like a real fight, everything goes a little hazy, and it’s pretty common to get knocked out, then redo an area.

Fortunately, there are several difficulty levels for you to learn what’s on offer in Okinawa Rush, or if you prefer an easier experience. Even then, you will encounter insta-deaths via some spike traps, though these can work in your favour if you lure an enemy onto them.

Like A Boss

In the short playtime, there was a ninja mini-boss then a demonic character where, spoiler, you punch off their head in a finishing blow. Again, it was quite a tricky affair but made the scene even more rewarding when finishing.

There are a few spaghetti western-like story sequences between the action, like a versus screen in a one-on-one fight. It’s a bit corny, but works perfectly with the storytelling. I can’t wait for the full release as Okinawa Rush is an absolute belter. Literally.

Okinawa Rush preview - Oni one of us walks away
Oni one of us walks away. Source: Steam

There’s no official release date yet, but it’s set for Q3 2021, so hopefully not too long to go. In the meantime, I highly recommend you download the demo now on Steam and experience it for yourself. This is one most definitely at the peak of the wishlist.