There’s something terribly wrong with Neon Krieger Yamato. It isn’t its low-fi, over saturated colors, its furious combo based brawling, or its demanding trap-heavy level design. It’s that I will most likely have to wait a year to spend countless hours with. Lionplex’s arcade beat ‘em up is the sort of game you can’t get out of your head after playing it for the first time.
The dark steampunk ninja future resembles Ninja Gaiden’s mix of mysticism and technology, but the pixel art harkens back to the games that inspired renaissance man and solo dev Dong Lee to play games in the first place. It’s a fun, if not particularly unique and remarkable backdrop for a game focused very sharply on intense action.
The three level demo showcased the many sorts of dangers the environment will pose to players in their 2D platforming. The starbase showed off periodic laser beams that blasted from the sky, killing anyone they touch, and beam gates and platforms that require beating up switches in order to open or move them. In contrast, one level put me and my partner on the top of a bullet train, that would only move for a limited period of time after I activated a switch in the center. Enemies would pile onto the limited space atop the locomotive. Things got crowded fast.
Good thing each of the three playable characters are extreme badasses. I split my time between the titular Yamato and Kang. Both ninjas are melee-focused monsters, and took full advantage of Neon Krieger Yamato’s robust combat mechanics. When you begin to string together 20-hit combos reliability, Neon Krieger Yamato begins to reach Devil May Cry levels of batshit crazy.
“It doesn’t stop here,” Lee told me as he demonstrated the upper limits of combo potential in the game’s practice mode. “Your special moves can be customized to have different properties, or be different techniques all together. So Yamato’s helicopter kick can perform many different ways depending on your preference.”
The excitement around Lionplex’s booth was palatable, which made the news that this game still has a lot of development time left to go that much more upsetting. It’s currently awaiting a Greenlight on Steam, and from there Lee is optimistic about where this game could go. “I would love to see it on consoles,” Lee agreed, but conceded that it was a pipedream at this stage in development.
For more information about Neon Krieger Yamato, including gameplay videos and screenshots, check out Lionplex’s website.