Developed By: Tanuki Creative Studio Published By: ININ Games Categories: Beatemup Release Date: 12.09.22
I first became aware of Jitsu Squad through it’s Kickstarter campaign, when publisher ININ promoted it. It looked good and I was intrigued, but I find myself leery on supporting crowdfunded campaigns due to long wait times and other issues. Jitsu Squad is out now though and I’m actually really liking this game. Though it does have a few cracks.
The story of Jitsu Squad follows the mythical Kusanagi Stone and the people who are trying to obtain it. You play as a group of warriors, cursed to be in the body of animals, blackmailed in a way to get the Kusanagi Stone for the sinister sorcerer Origami.
Jitsu Squad is one beautiful looking beatemup. If you remember any of those mascot beatemups from back in the day, Jitsu Squad is sure to give you the nostalgia feels. This one might actually feel better to play than a lot of the old ones though. Sacrilege, I know. You have the large mobs, you have your varied cast of characters, and of course an elevator to fight on at one point. It’s all familiar. This isn’t a bad thing however, why fix what isn’t broken? Instead, Jitsu Squad adds on to this. The first thing you might notice is how enemies will drop scrolls. These scrolls, once you collect a certain number will level your character up, giving them new abilities. Do fighting game commands for a few of these, it’s great. If you don’t care for leveling up, there is an Unlock All option.
A handful of screen clear or super moves can help you with the sea of enemies. You can do one yourself, a great move for bosses, but you can also find these badges or emblems in stages. These are devastating and act as summons. A few of which are even cameo appearances like Maximillian Dood. I should probably get to watching his vids again, he usually covers genres I’m into.
Lets mention my favorite part of the combat. First is the counter mechanic. You can block attacks coming your way and then quickly counter-attack right back. This is vital for some enemies and honestly just feels so good to use. You see that boss and his big weapon? Go ahead and try and counter it and you’ll know what I mean. Just be sure to time and position it right, or you’re gonna be defenseless. The addition of extra side weapons. Thin blades to slice, a large flame sword to burn enemies with strong, heavy strikes, blades to create tornados. These are fantastic to use to help a bit with crowd control and extending combos. Each character has their own unique weapons too.
I did mention how I love the look Jitsu Squad is going for earlier, but god do I love the presentation of this game, even extending outside of how good it looks. So so so much. First, you have a songs that have Johnny Gioeli of Crush 41 as the vocalist. The music in Jitsu Squad period is nothing short of fantastic, some of it kind of gets a little into the “Orientalism” aspect, which can get old, but songs like Surfing on the Lava are catchy as hell. I’d buy an OST release of this. There’s plenty of voiced cutscenes too!
Going back to looks, I love the goofy character designs everyone has. From a shonen hero to a yakuza mob boss, to caricatures, it really nails down a good cartoony art style without looking purposefully ugly. You can definitely tell which background characters are kickstarter backers, but nothing ever looks bad. Just maybe a tad inconsistent. The animations enemies make, especially when finished are pretty funny, just a clean slice right through them. This game is surprisingly violent, but it’s all goofy and nothing that would be too shocking.
Jitsu Squad is unfortunately one of the least stable games I’ve played in a while unfortunately. And it really pains me to experience any of these, because I love the game otherwise. Constant audio bugs where it will cut out or stutter, music or voice acting. Some visual bugs where elements including items, enemies, characters, etc.. will just not show properly. I’ve had at least one soft lock and multiple hard crashes that boot my to the Switch Home Menu. Stages aren’t *too* long, but it’s frustrating to just be worried the game just might crash at any time.
*UPDATE* A Day one patch was released that fixes more or less every bug I saw. Since the patch I haven’t ran into any of the glaring issues before. I can only hope the collector’s edition gets delayed a smidge to make sure the patch is on cart, because otherwise, there will be issues. Leaving the previous paragraph up, crossed through just to remind people they need this update currently.
Jitsu Squad is great! You can tell a lot of love went into this game, and it’s kickstarter campaign came from a place of loving this idea. I’m glad it got funded, I’m glad it’s getting a Switch release, and I’m glad it even gets cool physical editions. Play this game…as long as you patch it first!
Buy Now: $29.99 – $69.99 Collectors Edition
Follow Tanuki Creative Studio
*Game Download Code graciously provided for the purpose of review