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  • Writer's pictureFernando Da Costa

Review: Berserk Boy

Developer: BerserkBoy Games

Publisher: BerserkBoy Games, Big Sugar

Available on: PlayStation 4|5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC.

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch OLED


I’ve made it abundantly clear that my infatuation with Legend of Zelda transcends decades. My earliest memory is sitting atop my hospital bed after my initial major operation for my cancer, playing Link’s Awakening on Gameboy. I’m a cheating hoe, though, and another franchise occupied my heart. The Blue Bomber, known as Mega Man, had the most addictive loop. I’d spend hours destroying robots with my friends in their garage. Hell, whenever we’d run around outside, playing pretend as we fought evildoers, I would periodically opt for having the Mega Buster as my weapon because I chose to think that made me a badass.

You could best describe Berserk Boy as the love child between Sonic and Mega Man. The minute I boot it up, the similarities are glaring, punting me in the shin. I’m going to be frank; I hadn’t heard a single iota of information about this title or seen any marketing. I was reluctant to grab it as a result, but the good news is that the trailer convinced me. Whoever edited it did a stellar job, but can the gameplay capitalize?


They say Kegel exercises are supposed to be ideal for tightening, but the plot seems to have ignored that, as it’s rather loose. The substance is minimal, with silliness taking the forefront, firing on all cylinders. The second I saw a pun, I perked up, taking notes and smiling. They’re forced, of course, but the developers are fully committed, and that confidence made the cringe endearing. As long as there are no expectations for a deep story or sophisticated dialogue, I see no problems arising. It sublimely adopts the 90s whimsy - I felt nostalgic.

I’m not afraid to admit that I snickered once or twice, too, but my sense of humor can be pretty simple. The characters are archetypes and done cartoonishly, with a kind of little sister by our side, helping us with her computer skills. I bet that likely sounds familiar, and it should, because it’s literally Mega Man’s narrative, albeit simplified. Oh, and we’ve got a dastardly villain who’s coincidentally also a doctor. He’s trying to wreak havoc while a militant group opposes him with a boy that, get this, has a head of blue hair. It’s ridiculously on the nose, and a few folks might groan, but those who don’t are in for a blast from the past.


It’s with the mechanics where the inspirations shine brightest, but there’s a third facet I didn’t mention. The structure and pacing of Berserk Boy is quite reminiscent of an Arcade romp. Defeating enemies is worth a specific number of points, for instance. By the end of each run, a final rank is calculated based on how much I’ve accumulated, encouraging me to go on an absolute rampage which I damn well did. If, during my lust for violence, I’m killed, the penalty is a deduction from my total score, lowering the end grade.

The feature enthuses me, but there’s a tiny hiccup that has no business existing. I’ve no qualms with the system, but the weightlessness in the platforming is troublesome. Plainly put, I’d overshoot my jumps frequently, plummeting to my demise. As a perfectionist, having a reduction of any kind prompts me to restart instantly. I’m fine with the cycle, and luckily, Berserk Boy allows me to reset, but what irks me is the addition of needless steps. It’s not immediate, having me first teleport to the hub base before a second go. I’ve got to sit through a pair of asinine loading screens that seemingly have zero purpose but to be an annoyance.


Despite there being mechanical foes, my prime targets are the human experiments of the previously mentioned maniacal doctor. Like Mega Man, they come imbued with a unique element. The parallels continue as those abilities can also be inherited. For example, if I encounter a fire fiend and obtain victory, I’d gain the power to burn my opposition to ash. This aspect is what ultimately drew me in, enticing me to want to vault into it headfirst. Yes, I can’t refute how incredibly generic the premise is, but that’s where the genius lies. Thanks to how easy it is to grasp, the developers had the luxury to focus their energy on the fun factor.

It’s safe to say that they’ve successfully done so because I very much liked my session with Berserk Boy. Upon completion, I even found myself fantasizing over the shape possible sequels could take. Hell, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this experience isn’t only joyous, but it has the tools to become a killer franchise. Granted, one or two tweaks are called for to creep into the upper echelons of the genre, but it isn’t a terrible initial jaunt. I’d adore it if, eventually, we could select the stages we tackle and, by proxy, the bosses. If they had weaknesses to discover and exploit, it would only boost replayability. As it stands, I beat and forgot it.

I can’t begin to articulate how invigorating the fast-paced combat is. I can assume a variety of different forms, each having distinct techniques to utilize - some are clearly where the Sonic flourishes appear. My favorite is the pseudo-honing dash that doubles as a means of getting across large spike fields by using a string of enemies as stopgaps. It demands my utmost attention if I have any desire to get to the opposite side. I was comfortably engaged. It definitely tests your reflexes, but it isn’t unfair in doing so. At 34, I could easily advance without aggravation since the window to act is generous.

If you’re a player with a serious fetish for quickies, then the level design is perfectly tailored for those who thrive off of speedrunning. With precision and skill, I can decimate areas in a minute or so without shedding a sweat. It’s grand, but I’m not positive if it has a massive effect, if any, on the rank I achieve upon reaching the end. Whether I had 60 or 160 seconds, it seems that not being killed is what solely determines if I’m S-tier. Whatever the case, and it’s a dumb gripe, I do wish we were explicitly told so we could better set goals.

The side-scrolling nature of Mega Man is very enthralling, but what hooked me are the slight Metroidvania elements. Certain skills would open the path to heart capsules and health tanks. Retrieving them was a strangely satisfying task. I do, however, think that hinges entirely on my fascination with visibly seeing my progression. Mileage will vary, but I’m personally ecstatic to see Berserk Boy adhering to this ideology. To keep with that theme, I’m rescuing stranded civilians and soldiers scattered about, and the rewards for doing so are challenges. If you’re worried about difficulty, be prepared to see your patience tested truly.


So far, my complaints about Berserk Boy have been minimal, but a qualm still exists that’s borderline rage-inducing. In fact, it had the F-Bombs flowing freely from my lips. See, when going through an area, I might stumble on a gigantic dirt pile. To get by, my avatar can become a drill. At face value, it’s not offensive, and sure, turning corners while in this form is sensitive, but I can adapt with a gentle toggle and by taking it slow. If I don't, mistakes will happen, and any damage I receive inverts my controls, leading to tons of preventable fatalities. Because I can have a heavy thumb, I’m punished for it - I almost gave up.


If you don’t have a taste for pixel art, Berserk Boy will have a style that won’t appeal to your eyes. It’s steeped with a retro graphical look. The colors are vibrant, and the sprite work is crisp. It isn’t tough to see the immense attention to detail. I’m especially impressed by how fluid the animations are and how the light particle effects never struggled. No matter how rapidly I slid into my foes, none of the scenery distorted. It wasn’t flinching, contributing to the delight I felt. It really slams it home when it comes to being a time capsule of the 90s.


It should come as no surprise that the framerate is rock-hard. To my untrained eye, the silkiness tells me that it’s running at 60fps. The movements have that peanut butter smoothness, and thanks to a need to be on my toes, I’m elated to find that every button tap is met with the corresponding action straight away. The developers knew that in this genre, a lesser performance would be a dealbreaker, and they hit it out of the park. For that reason, I’ve got to applaud just how well-optimized Berserk Boy is.


There isn’t much I can say about the music that isn’t gushing about how astounding it is. It’s a flawless usage of chiptune. The boss track, without a doubt, is notably leagues above the rest, though. It has this hardcore tinge that had my inner metalhead rocking. My foot was tapping and my head was banging as I was dodging projectiles. What’s most important is that it does what a good battle song should, which is to get the adrenaline pumping. There’s voice acting, too, but it’s not consistent, used for lines here and there - it’s nothing to highlight. Still, when I heard it, it was to the degree of being so bad, it’s good.


Berserk Boy may not be a JRPG epic with grand lore, but it is a side scroller that’s bloody entertaining. I didn’t ever legitimately jump ship, even if there were moments where I felt the frustration bubbling, for the simple fact that the gameplay loop has a riveting flavor to it. The audio is great, and I’m positive there were sounds from the Mega Man series, such as when shooting from the Mega Buster. After a handful of hours in this world, it’s evident that BerserkBoy Games poured their heart and passion into this project. I want to see more of what they can do, especially if they commit to voice acting and keep with the Mega Man X4 quality of cheese. Keep in mind that this title can be completed in a weekend. I still say definitely buy it but at a small discount.


Special thanks to the publisher for the review copy used for this coverage!

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