Ra Ra Boom is a heartfelt take on the classic Beat-’em-Up genre
At first glance, Ra Ra Boom looks like an energetic brawler with a ferocious cast of women hurling fists, kicks, and bullets at waves of evil robots, each hit marked by seven-color explosions. rainbow as metal body parts glide across the screen. It’s exactly what it looks like: vibrant, energetic, and full of personality. But look a little closer, and right next to Lisa Frank’s palette and Saturday morning cartoon aesthetic, you’ll find the story of a group of young women who not only battle cyborgs, but overcome their own pain and inner struggles in life. progress.
During my actual preview, I got a bit of an insight into this beat-’em-up, this run-and-gun, and the intricate balancing studio Gylee Games had to try to tell a story. intimate story of loss and personal. Developments in a genre rarely leave room for emotional resonance. “It’s a constant balancing act,” CEO and writer Chris Bergman told me. In one of the opening levels I watched, the charismatic characters would joke back and forth between the fighting robots exploding to pieces. “We probably cut 40 minutes of cutscenes and dialogue from the first level to keep the tempo, but [kept] just enough to let the player know who these girls are.”
In Ra Ra Boom, the people of Earth tackled climate change with the help of artificial intelligence. So how has AI solved the problem of global warming? Well, by eliminating its most crucial cause: humanity. In an effort to save the world, humans created an AI, from which an army of robots began to wipe out humanity. So, in an attempt to survive, humans fled the planet and began to settle on spaceships. Despite the growing trend of AI tools constantly making headlines in our reality by 2023, Bergman assures me it’s purely coincidental, as production has already started from years ago, in 2020. But not all topics are unintentional, especially grief and personal growth.
Bergman lost an important figure in his life in 2018, so he began to find healing in telling this story. It revolves around four girls born and raised in a post-Earth setting, who have never set foot on this planet. To them, it was just a dream – a mythical place currently ravaged by a race of sentient cyborgs. That is, until one day, when things go awry, the AI makes its way into space to hunt down the remaining humans. In the process, the four girls suffer a heavy loss that leaves them in a state of mourning, while also facing an army of cyborgs looming ahead.
But for all its story, the gameplay looks as frenetic and action-packed as you’d expect from a modern beat game. I watched Vee, the heavy hitman wielding a shield, juggling his robots in the air, smashing them into a pile of crushed metal pulp; and I saw Saida, the warrior in silver armor, firing rockets from her rocket launcher while wielding two daggers. Saida fills with a special meter that can unleash a rainbow firewall, and Vee will fire her machine gun from a distance. While the game supports four players, I only had a chance to see two characters in action at once.
Ra Ra Boom also added running and shooting mechanics, with Bergman citing Contra and Metal Slug as inspiration. When combining the two genres, Gylee arranged the levels according to lanes. Across the ground of each level, I see lines that indicate the space the player is standing in, making it easier to pinpoint where you’re shooting, which helps maintain speed (and although I don’t really play, the lanes seem to quickly blend into the environment and fit naturally with the action).
Contra and Metal Slug aside, Bergman isn’t afraid to list its other beat-’em-up influences. Castle Destroyers, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World and Streets of Rage 4 are both games that Gylee Games staff played during the development of Ra Ra Boom. While the beat-’em-up of the last decade has served as a navigator in the genre’s modern era, Bergman also notes that childhood wandering around video games in the early years. 90 played an important role, especially with the intentional Lisa-Frank. -esque palette. Instead of using vintage-style full pixel art, the team favored an illustrated, cartoon-like form, with an emphasis on a ’90s aesthetic. The menu screen looks like a Trapper. Keepers and upgraded screens feature rudimentary hand-drawn images straight from a teenager’s notebook – even the user interface has that black and white mottled pattern.
Gylee Games noticed a hole in the game market for “bad women who aren’t sexually aroused” and asked writer Ak Fedeau to help unravel that aspect of the story. But despite the emphasis on female characters, Bergman emphasized that “this game is for everyone, whether you’re a 12-year-old girl, a mom or a beat-’em-fan- veteran ups like me.” Ra Ra Boom is defined as a game about grief and femininity, wrapped in an action-packed fighting game about humanity fighting for its existence against its own creation. But we’ll have to wait and see how it manages to balance its heavy themes in a modern-day beat-’em-up in the fall of 2023 for PC.
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