Review: Okinawa Rush (Nintendo Switch)

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Okinawa Rush is a fun arcade-style beat ’em up. It features three playable martial artists Hiro, Meilin and Shin. The second the game starts, you’re dropped in this 2D platformer that takes you right back to vintage Street Fighter, Ninja Turtle days from the Super Nintendo. Endless ninjas from the Black Mantis Clan get thrown at you, who hit you with everything from throwing stars to swords. To make it even more challenging, you have to beat the clock and get to the end of the stage before the timer hits zero. 

There are two modes to the game; a story mode to learn more about the characters or an arcade mode. The story mode is fine, but the arcade mode is much more fun, and I think this is how the game was meant to be played. Okinawa Rush is the epitome of a button masher, with two attack buttons and a jump button. Obscure foods pop up after you defeat a wave of ninjas to help you heal up slightly. Seeing random split pea soup or banana emojis pop up for the first time was a funny and random way to refill the health bar. You can also take weapons from bad guys you’ve beaten and use them for the next wave to fight. The first time I used a sword, I was completely hooked and wanted to find more weapons to use. 

Each character has different pros and cons of usage. Hiro is the most well-rounded fighter, while Meilin is the fastest and Shin is the strongest. Their stories all have different endings, but the action is pretty similar–beat up as many members of the Black Mantis clan while beating the clock. I like using Hiro most, but I’m also someone who plays with Mario in all his games; I’m more biased for well-rounded playable characters when given the option, so take that for what it’s worth.

For a retro-looking 2D platformer, the graphics are pretty fun. There are some cool-looking attacks when your special attack meter is full. Additionally, the bad guys have some cool animations, specifically with the different weapons and how they use them. The soundtrack is awesome and does help add to the nostalgia factor of those old-school arcade titles. 

The stages themselves are fine but a little redundant; after the first few levels, there’s not a ton of variety. There also isn’t a ton of instructions or help if you get lost; you just sort of figure it out. While adding to the mash-’em aspect of the game, it can also take the momentum out of the nonstop fighting. For example, not knowing how to even pick up a dropped weapon or how to use it isn’t the best way to figure out how to play the game. Especially when you also have a time limit and can’t move forward until you beat all the bad guys in front of you.

All in all, Okinawa Rush is a fun game. It relies on reminiscing of the past but does it well. The story and level design leave much to be desired. But, the nonstop fighting action paired with the upbeat music makes this the type of game where you can be locked in and hours have passed without you realizing it.

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