The Nintendo Switch is no stranger to 2D Brawlers and retro styled beat ’em ups, what does Full Metal Furies do to stand out from the crowd? Well in short, pretty much everything! The fantasy-punk world of Full Metal Furies goes well beyond a simple homage or pastiche. Every detail draws from the decades of evolution in the genre. Elements of all your favorites are here and so many neat touches that I haven’t seen before.
It’s clear everything has layers of nuanced design to it. The stream of enemies in Full Metal Furries has color-coded barriers that only allow damage from the corresponding character. This encourages communication between co-op players as orange can only break orange and blue can only break blue! With support for up to four players, the difference between single player and multiplayer puts a novel twist on the gameplay when playing by yourself you have the option to use a quick-swap feature switch between two classes, making for a more tactical and methodical play style as you crush each enemies barriers to dust.
When selecting you are presented with your standard brawler archetypes, Tank, Engineer, Sniper and Fighter. Although you and three mates (online or IRL) can just charge in and choose willy-nilly, each of the selectable the characters each play, talk and move in utterly distinctive styles and can be leveled up and customized (with gameplay altering equipment and weapon choices) to further suit your play style. Tank is the best character for beginners with abilities based around defense and closes up combat. Engineer is armed with a short-range gun that needs reloading also bringing automatic armed defenses to watch your team’s back. Sniper is armed with a rifle that has a laser target and has full range across the whole screen and a variety of detonatable mines. Fighter is outfitted with a giant hammer and makes use of well-timed counter-attacks to get your team out of a stitch
All of the usually brief, but completely optional, cutscenes go a long way to giving the likable warriors more character and personality. This game is built on features that are often overlooked in the creation of video games, especially in the sidescrolling beat ’em up genre. Some games have vague descriptions for items, upgrades, and options for the characters; Full Metal Furies goes above and beyond with unique, funny chunks of text telling you just about everything.
Something I had never considered to be more than a functional, if not repetitive gameplay necessity, in Full Metal Furies was immediately one of my favorite design choices, is that in each character’s skill tree descriptions are informative and entertaining. The statistical upgrade descriptions are different for each character and reflect and reveal a little about each For instance instead of your standard HP +5 blurb you are told “Meg is brittle because she hates milk. Force feed her.” Tonally Full Metal Furies is spot on the pixelated humor is never overwhelmed by the slight political undertones.
Following failing or completing a level, you are taken to a campsite hub area that your small band of freedom fighters has taken residence here. This area is your quiet before the storm, and your four warriors can be actually seen resting and recuperating after their long days of smashing the system. Each time you unlock an in-game trophy (usually for beating a boss or completing a level) you open up a new feature represented by a new resident or element that subtly augments your gameplay experience.
The base features a hauntingly calming song, upon unlocking the trophy that repaired the radio I learned was called Rest in the Ruins. This song is one of the most relaxing pieces of looping background music I have ever heard and is fast becoming a favorite of mine to listen to while I write. Both the soundtrack and base camp evolve, changing depending on which world map you are on. Even if you don’t share my musical taste, the base camp music is customizable like many of the settings; including how often you have to read the in-game dialogue, color-blind settings and hearing impaired options available from the pause menu under gameplay tweaks. These are simple features that should be in every game and goes to show the developers are thinking of the fans first rather than microtransactions or sales.
Your mission, in Full Metal Furries, is to travel around the world map clearing the levels of enemies to destroy the sky crystals in each zone to rid the land of a supernatural catastrophe brought on by the tyrannical ruling Titans. Basically, this means that you have impassable weather themed fog of war on each map until you beat that area’s likable but monstrous boss. Even when this is done there is still a wealth of unlockable equipment, upgrades and optional levels to overcome.
My favorite character has to be the Sniper. She wears a beany hat over her eyes and locates her prey through smell. She doesn’t say much, but I got severe Léon: The Professional vibes from her. Except she doesn’t like milk, maybe she is more like if that film had ended very differently, and Natalie Portman had gone on to be the next great assassin and not Luke Skywalker’s mum Padmé. Also, I am quite sure that is not supposed to be a lollipop!
In my playthroughs I found nothing to complain about really, but here you go. I loved it all. Full Metal Furies looks and sounds great, offers spot-on multiplayer both off and online. You can start up a game with your mates one night and continue on another occasion by yourself, going on to beat those hard levels without your noob friends holding you back.
The closest thing I have to a complaint or even niggle is the lack of d-pad functionality. For a game so steeped in the tropes and history of the genre, it’s a little weird the developers have ignored the button input system, this is no way a deal breaker, but I would not be allowed into the Video Game Critic’s Christmas party if I didn’t have at least one complaint per review. I love Full Metal Furies, and if you’re a fan of side-scrolling beat ’em ups this is a must buy!