Maybe it’s an annual thing, maybe it’s a reverse form of one-upmanship, the race to be terrible, the game that resets the year’s advances to its lowest point— a title that becomes an indie catchphrase for the worst fate you can think of. 2011 had Goolin, 2012 was all TrickyTreat, and now 2013 currently has Uproar! (240 MSP). Nothing beats TrickyTreat, but let me spare you the suspense; Uproar! is worse than Goolin. At least Goolin had bizarre on its side. Uproar! should really end with a interrobang, as the exclamation itself doesn’t do it justice, nor does it ask the important question. Why?
Why, in a time when so many great games exist on every platform, when a dollar can buy you hours of entertainment, do we continue to see half-realized (a kinder word for it, half-assed is what it really is), completely irresponsible releases like Uproar!? And that’s not meant to be an interrobang, but a legitimate interrogative.
A 2D beat ‘em up with 3D assets and environments, the game masquerades as some kind of poor Double Dragon / Final Fight homage, with thugs conveniently waiting in line to be throttled by our Hero Pugilist, working without a backstory or motivational event to explain why he’s punching and kicking the expressionless crud out of every white person with a shaved head that crosses his path. City in Chaos! screams the box art. Really? I saw one car on fire through four levels of urban / rural blandness. If that’s the definition of chaos, then what’s considered Armageddon? Two cars on fire?
Uproar! is a laundry list of troubles. Despite all of the action taking place on asphalt, the character moves like he’s been dipped in molasses and slides to a stop as if he’s on ice. The controls are equally questionable, with button inputs that only work some of the time (try alternating punches and kicks; it’s like the game has to invent the animation on the spot). To make matters worse, our protagonist seems to suffer from a recurring phantom pain, taking invisible hits outside of combat that drain his health. No idea what’s happening there.
The odd behavior continues with the enemies as they wander into frame, blocking the view and punching the air randomly around you, practicing for their death animation or just hoping to create a tear in the space-time continuum so Elizabeth (BioShock Infinite reference) can pluck them from their current reality and re-seat them in a world where Uproar! never existed. My money’s on the latter.
Difficulty, too, is nonexistent. You’re never in any serious danger so long as you button-mash, which can interrupt most enemy attacks. A few basic combos will help, and utilizing a dropped weapon is basically a license to win, though beware; the cherry on top of my time with the game was encountering a Code 4 during the last level’s boss fight, while carrying a hammer. Granted, it only takes about twenty minutes to reach that climactic battle, but I refuse to pummel my way back to that point to see how it ends. I know too well the in-between, and that’s bad enough to have committed to memory.
The only uproar that Uproar! is likely to cause is a riot among wallets at having been swindled out of three dollars, and the shame that very public knowledge will bring when forced to admit it. And ‘swindled’ is indeed the operating word here, as you are receiving nothing in return.