• Jake Lawson

[Review] Uppers [PC]

If you’re a fan of Marvelous or XSEED and their published games, you might have heard of UPPERS – a third person 3D brawler similar to Senran Kagura developed by Bullets, which was previously announced as a Playstation Vita title in Japan. After its first release in 2016, news on the game coming to any other platforms or regions were scarce. Now, 4 years later, while the previously announced PS4 version has been officially cancelled, UPPERS has instead made its way to the west on Steam. I had the opportunity to review this PC port which has been completely remastered in HD and received a full English translation.


UPPERS is set on Last Resort Island, a place where it’s part of the daily agenda to duke it out in order achieve the common goal of rising to fame. You are introduced to Ranma Kamishiro and Michiru Sakurai, two boys who have found their way into the violence-driven paradise. One big topic they frequently bring up?


Girls.


Fighters who win in combat are not only rewarded with money, power and an increased level of popularity, but especially the attention of bystanding girls. As they are seemingly more thrilled by battle than the actual fighters, they will cheer for you and reward you if you fulfill their requests. Said rewards will be further explained below.


Gameplay


Similar to other brawlers, you start out by choosing a maximum of two characters and then proceed to take it to the streets. Anyone who’s played games like Yakuza in the past will feel right at home, as you are not just limited to the strength of your own two fists – you can also pick up items in the way and use those to beat up the punks who come at you. Since you have the ability to choose two characters at the beginning, you can spontaneously decide to tag in another fighter in case you get the feeling they might do a better job at clearing the area (or if you’re just getting a bit bored of using the same moveset over and over again). With each attack, you fill up your voltage gauge. Once it’s full, you can activate it to unleash a series of powerful strikes to completely obliterate your foes.


There’s a total of 13 playable characters available, meaning you have several fighting styles to choose from – all the way from boxing to wrestling and kung fu. Only Ranma and Michiru are selectable at the beginning – if you exclude the powerful Daidouji, who makes her guest appearance as a crossover character from the Senran Kagura series. She’s a great addition for players who want to achieve SS rank on missions early on. Alongside the actually playable characters there’s also 8 support characters, titled “Queens”. Choosing to bring along one of these girls into battle with you will provide you with certain perks to make your life a little easier.


Now for the part you might have been waiting for since you first read about the “rewards” earlier – given to you by the girls who watch you as you bury your opponents in concrete. It’s quite simple really – as you approach them, they will ask you to perform a certain action. One example would be “Defeat 5 enemies quickly!”. If you succeed in doing so, they will hand you a love letter and, in conclusion, they will be added to the journal, where you can view their 3D model. Overall, there’s 108 to collect. You can also decide which panties they wear. Sound strange? I know. However, as someone who has played Senran Kagura before, I don’t mind it much. And it’s also not the only type of customization available in UPPERS – you can collect new clothes that randomly drop or just simply buy them in the shop, where they are on sale for both playable and support characters. What I found to be a bit of a letdown was that a lot of the costumes were just recolors of the characters’ original outfits.



Visual-wise, UPPERS looks pretty good and performs rather well for an HD remaster of a PS Vita game. While the character models are not as polished as one might expect them to be, there’s nothing to really nag about and the battle sites all have a certain charm to them. The game can be launched in several different resolutions and runs smoothly at 60 fps, which I am very pleased by. I also personally enjoyed playing this game with controller a lot more than with keyboard and mouse.


Although the game only has a Japanese dub, the cast is admittedly top notch. Several widely known talented actors like Nobuyuki Hiyama (known for his role as Masamune Date in Samurai Warriors) to Yurika Kubo (who voiced Hanayo Koizumi in Love Live!) have lent the characters in UPPERS their voice. In addition, the soundtrack is a great fit for the enthralling battles you will be thrown into.


Verdict


Although UPPERS has its fair share of sexual content, it doesn’t fall short on actual gameplay. I really had a lot of fun with the game’s cast and the diverse fighting possibilities. However, I do wish there would have been not only more than two female characters, but also more customization possibilities. To me, selling reskins as “new outfits” feels a bit cheap, especially with the crazy number of actual collectibles in the game. To long-time Senran Kagura fans, UPPERS might pale a bit in comparison. Despite that though, I can’t say that the game is anywhere near bad – in fact I can highly recommend it. It’s a good-time brawler that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Plus, the characters are hot. But that’s just my personal input there.


Overall rating:


8.0 / 10


Pros:

+ big variety in characters + light-hearted, colorful and action-packed


Cons:

- fighting system feels a bit clunky at times - probably would have been a lot of fun with the addition of multiplayer


This review covers the Steam version of UPPERS. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to Marvelous and XSEED for providing me with the opportunity to play this game and write this review. UPPERS is now available on Steam.


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