UPPERS is a beat-em-up produced by Honey∞Parade Games and published by XSEED Games. Previously only released in Japan for the PlayStation Vita, it’s now also available on PC, fully localized in English, French, Japanese, Korean, Traditional Chinese & Simplified Chinese.
In UPPERS, you play as two students – Michiru and Ranma, who are on a journey to become the strongest on Last Resort Island, in order to impress the girls. The story is not great, it’s mostly there to give the player a reason to fight someone. The entire plot is Ranma trying to get a girl, who just happens to be the daughter of the strongest man on the island. It’s not an awful story, but it’s not something to get this game for.
There’s a variety of different characters, both male and female, with 13 in total. Each of them have unique moves, some are agile, others are slower, but deal more damage. The PC version has all the DLC, which includes Daidouji from Senran Kagura. I myself wasn’t a big fan of her combat style, it felt too slow.
There is a mini hub level, where you can select missions, speak to “queens”, who provide support during battle, or buy clothes and go to the gym. New queens are unlocked by progressing in the story. They can heal or boost a character’s stats during battle, which can be helpful. The clothes shop sells clothing for all the characters, both playable and queens. The gym is a place where characters’ stats can be increased and new moves learned. The currency in UPPERS is “love points”, which can be earned by defeating enemies, pulling off combos and completing levels.
The stages consist of areas, which let the player proceed after they have defeated all nearby enemies. Most of the time, you can control the same two characters – Michiru and Ranma. After finishing a level, you can replay it as whoever you want. Levels offer a range of environments which unfortunately usually only result in cosmetic changes. Don’t get me wrong, they do look vibrant and colourful, but it can still get a bit repetitive. The last chapter of every act requires a certain Adoration Level, which means replaying the chapters again to get a better rank in order to increase the level. I wasn’t a big fan of this. The game isn’t very long, it took me around 9 hours to complete the main story. There’s also survival mode, which I haven’t finished yet.
The game is a beat-em-up, so the main focus is on the combat. There are heavy attacks and throws, these can be combined to pull off combos. There’s also dodging, blocking and counter attacking. The more you fight, the more the voltage meter rises, which lets us send enemies flying far away. The combat is simple, yet fun and smooth.
There are rise-ups, which make the attacks even stronger and let the player do a special button-mashing attack. Fighters can be swapped at any time during the battle, even while doing special attacks. This is helpful when one character has lower HP than the other.
One of my favourite things about this game are the interactive environments. Barrels and propane tanks can be kicked to cause an explosion. Enemies can be punched into vehicles or fire hydrants, or helicopters. There’s even wallrunning. The combat is pretty hilarious, but it’s not really challenging. Just mashing buttons will guarantee a victory most of the time.
Another important part of the combat is audience requests. Each area has crowds of girls who will cheer and request different things, such as defeating enemies, using certain attacks, dodging or kicking opponents into cars. Completing these requests awards love letters and panties, which can have different positive effects, such as HP recovery or stronger attacks.
The port itself has some issues. The game crashed once during a bossfight. I also managed to cause a softlock by getting attacked while throwing someone. The enemy that was being thrown got stuck in the air. It wasn’t possible to reach them, which means I couldn’t complete the level anymore. There’s also a bug with certain AMD and Intel GPUs where effects glitch out. It looks kinda cool, but it’s distracting. It doesn’t happen in every level either. The workaround for this is to disable the Steam overlay. The draw distance was also very low, I sometimes had difficulties finding enemies, because they wouldn’t spawn in unless I got closer. These issues did not stop me from enjoying the game, but I hope they get fixed soon.
There are settings for resolution, window type, VSync, anti-aliasing, shadow quality and texture filtering. Button prompts can be changed to either PlayStation, Xbox, Switch or Keyboard. Only keyboard inputs can be rebound, which you should really do, because the default preset is not great. PC related settings can only be changed from the launcher. The textures themselves don’t seem to have been improved from the Vita version, which is a shame, especially due to the “fully remastered” claim.
XSEED Games provided us with a Steam copy for review purposes.
UPPERS Review – Quite Strong
UPPERS is a fun brawler with enjoyable combat. The art style is great and the soundtrack is good enough. It’s short and a little repetitive, but the fighting makes up for it. If you’re a fan of beat-em-ups, this is a game worth checking out.