Foul Play (PS Vita) Review

By Drew Hurley 13.05.2016

Review for Foul Play on PS Vita

The era of arcade beat 'em ups is long gone now, with the heyday of classics like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons Arcade Game, Golden Axe, Final Fight and so many more being merely a shining glint of nostalgia in many gamers' histories, but that doesn't mean the arcade beat 'em up is dead. Every once in a while, a new title will give life to the once-great genre, and now Devolver Digital is throwing a new entry into the mix with Foul Play.

Foul Play follows the story of the dapper Daemon-Hunter Baron Dashforth alongside his plucky sidekick Scampwick, the ninja chimney sweep. The story of the game sees the two trekking across the world battling against numerous daemons and daemon-possessed humans as they try to find out the truth of what happened to Dashforth's father.

The game has a charming design, using a similar setup to the classic Super Mario Bros. 3, where the entire story is portrayed as a play. Dashforth retells the story of his travels to the audience and acts out the events with the help of fellow actors. This design works fantastically well; actors play out the part of enemies, and when defeated, they scurry off stage or are dragged off by the cliché vaudeville hook, and the stages themselves are changed by having the backdrops and props repeatedly rearranged. This audience also acts as a major aspect of the gameplay; the combat system is based around keeping them enthralled, this can be done by raising higher combos, dodging attacks, and countering. Entertaining the audience in this way fills a bar which gives multipliers to the score for each stage and acts as both a health bar and a special ability meter.

The combat mechanics excel through their simplicity. There are the usual light and hard attacks, along with a dodge, block, and counter. As the game progresses, a few new moves are added to the arsenal, like the ability to throw, juggle, and bounce enemies, but really, the combat boils down to simple attacks combined with throwing enemies at each other.

Screenshot for Foul Play on PS Vita

There are five acts to play through in either single-player or multiplayer, but, in a baffling decision, the game is multiplayer for only two players. Coming from a genre that has always thrived on four-player co-op, the limit of two is very strange. There are 17 stages and 5 boss stages to take on, split across the five acts. Each of the acts has a very unique and individual theme, and the stage play aesthetics are superb. The enemies are actors who don different outfits to fit with their stage - Mummies in pyramids, Vampires in castles, and Krakens across the sea. The problem with the enemies, however, is that while there is plenty of variation in their designs, there is no variation in their abilities. Because their attacks and patterns don't change much, the game begins to feel very repetitive. The bosses, at least, help to break up this monotony with some interesting and fun encounters.

Each stage also has a set of challenges to try to complete. These can be things like achieving a set size combo or clearing sections within a set time limit. Completing all three challenges on a stage rewards a charm that can be equipped to grant bonuses during play, such as combo or audience power-ups. It adds a little life, but since the difficulty is quite low, it's easy to quickly acquire every item.

Screenshot for Foul Play on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


If this was released in the 90s, it would be a superb addition to the stack of truly memorable arcade titles. Today, though? Compared to titles like Castle Crashers, it comes up a little short. The design and aesthetics are fantastic, but ultimately, they alone can't carry the title. The repetitive nature of the combat, the low level of difficulty and lack of extra features or unlockables to expand the lifespan make this one just average.




Devolver Digital


2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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