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Treachery in Beatdown City brings turn-based tactics to a retro beat 'em up

The real-time action of side-scrolling brawlers like Double Dragon and Streets of Rage has been given a tactical, turn-based twist — think Fallout's VATS system — with Treachery in Beatdown City by NuChallenger. The PlayStation Mobile game, due later this year, turns the classic arcade genre into a strategy game with intriguing results.

Rather than focusing on quick reflexes, Beatdown City presents its street fights like a turn-based RPG. When a player engages some enemy street scum, they'll pause before they punch, pulling up a menu of moves, each with their own risks and rewards.

Attacks in Beatdown City come in the form of strikes and grapples. Each character has its own menu of moves, depending on their fighting style. In the combat demo we played at PAX Prime this week, three characters were playable, some of which showed a proficiency with punches and kicks and others who excelled at grabs and throws.

Each selectable move has its own FP, or Fighting Point, rating. Players have a bank of FP they can draw upon during a fight, which slowly refills. While engaged in combat, a low risk and low damage jab, for example, consumes only a few of those points, as would a grab. More complicated moves, like a roundhouse kick or suplex, do more damage, but also consume more FP. They're also riskier, as opponents can block or escape from high FP moves.

Certain moves can also cause status effects. A kick to the legs might cause an enemy to be stunned. Moves can also temporarily blind or spin an opponent around, leaving them susceptible to a follow-up attack.

Players have to think tactically in combat, deciding whether they should expend FP on blocking, if they're attacked, or risk taking the damage. The same considerations must be made while on offense. Do you chain together a string of safe jabs and gut punches or lead into a devastating uppercut?

There's one real-time element to Beatdown City's combat. Players can use low power moves, like jabs and hooks, by tapping on the PlayStation Vita's X button. It doesn't consume FP and appears mostly useful for interacting with the environment. In the demo we played at PAX, a mailbox could be crushed by punching it, revealing a health pick up. Beatdown City designer Shawn A. Allen said the option is available to players so they don't need to expend FP while engaging in a mailbox beatdown.

Treachery in Beatdown City looks like a fascinating hybrid of well-worn gameplay mechanics made fresh as a result of their fusion. Allen says there will be classic beat 'em up weapons, like pipes and knives, that players can employ in combat, as well as an over-world where the adventure side of Beatdown City happens.

Expect Treachery in Beatdown City to hit PlayStation Vita and other PlayStation Mobile devices sometime this fall.

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