XBLA Review: Foul Play

Craaaaaab people. Craaaaaab people.

Craaaaaab people. Craaaaaab people.

By: Casey Curran

Foul Play is the kind of game that oozes creativity despite being in the usually tired 2D beat ’em up genre. It takes the idea of just being actors in a play and designs every single mechanic around it. The result is a game that both looks and feels different from most other games on the market despite borrowing liberally from them.

CONTROLS (4.5/5)

Foul Play has a feel like Castle Crashers with combos similar to Devil May Cry. The game places a heavy emphasis on juggling characters in midair and dodging at the right time similar to DMC, yet the physics and hit detection will instantly remind any CC fans of that game. Getting a combo together feels very intuitive. Occasionally it was hard to tell if I was aligned properly to hit an enemy, but that was my only issue with the controls.


Although Foul Play looks crisp and colorful, where the game really shines is how it uses its style to enhance its visuals. Every enemy and location is merely part of a play, so the obvious backdrops and costumes create a very unique look. The animations play extremely well into this too, which makes the game a perpetual delight to the eyes.

Music and sound effects play effectively into this, too. They both fit very well and the sound cues that would accompany completing an objective or getting the crowd excited only served to make the game even more satisfying.

GAMEPLAY (4.25/5)

Foul Play has a surprisingly deep combat system for a 2D brawler. Juggling combos that went past 50 became something common for me as the game packed on more enemies. That is not to say that the game was a breeze, however. While not reaching the same challenge seen in older brawlers such as Double Dragon or Streets of Rage, I found it kept a good flow in combat and was a good deal tougher than the recent Devil May Cry reboot.

What makes combat so engaging is how you are not only building a high combo but pleasing the audience as well. Getting hit takes the audience’s excitement down by a considerable amount while building it back up happens much slower. Considering how the game loves to fill the screen with enemies, not to mention how aggressive they are as well, this helped keep the game engaging despite not being too hard to get to the next section of the game.

There were also many different side objectives sprinkled throughout the episodes. These would give an extra goal to accomplish such as taking out enemies in a certain order or getting a high combo. Whereas Real Boxing, which I was playing at the same time, faulted in this regard, Foul Play excelled. These objectives only served to keep the combat from getting stale and provided a great extra challenge, for the most part. Occasionally there would be one objective that fell short, but I could count them on one hand.

The one fault that is less forgivable, however, is the boss battles. Compared to the rest of the game, which feels so fresh and unique, these are very bland and uninspired. They did not range beyond chip away at the boss’ health while his minions help. To make it worse, some options, such as throwing enemies to counterattack, do not work against bosses giving the game less depth during these fights.

OVERALL (4.25/5)

Foul Play is a solid title and a must play for fans of the beat ’em up genre. The game offers more depth than the average 2D beat ’em up, and a number of 3D action games, while giving one of the most unique and fun styles I have seen in a video game in a while.

About Herija Green

Avid gamer, adventurous lover and all-around damned handsome man...
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