Game Review: Squareboy Vs. Bullies: Arena Edition – A Welcome Addition to the Old-School Brawler Genre

What it is:

A retro-arcade side-scrolling beat-em-up brawler from Ratalaika.

The game is out October 12 on Switch for $4.99.



If you’re a fan of Double DragonGolden Axe, and other games in that vein, then this is the game for you.

Unlike previous versions of the game, the Arena Edition features new bullies and an Arena Mode, which features Squareboy against wave after wave of bully foes…(which is precisely what the normal game is, minus the scrolling screen).

Despite the challenges of being overwhelmed by foes, learning the controls and combos makes the game quite a bit easier, though the controls are not spelled out unless you seek them out in the pause menu.  The story mode doesn’t take long to play through, and there aren’t any surprises in the plot, but the game doesn’t boast those things, doesn’t try to be what it isn’t, and delivers where it counts.

That being said, the game is also glitchy in the Wreck It Ralph/Vanellope way.  My Squareboy would occasionally jump around the screen to another place, though this was few and far between, it still threw me off when it happened.sb5


Squareboy is weak and small, which makes him the target of bigger, meaner bullies. Because Squareboy is victimized, a mysterious Asian “Miyagi”-like mentor appears to train him how to fight.

Like any good revenge flick, Squareboy hunts down the bullies and beats the snot out of them.



The controls here feel wasted.  A jumps, B punches, and then adding in UP and DOWN with the punches allows different combinations of attacks.  X picks up items.  Y is unused, as are the shoulder buttons.  With so many buttons lying dormant, the control scheme could have been changed up a bit…but I suppose it works.


A simple 8-bit style, nothing special, and quickly becoming par for the course, it seems, with indy game developers.


Why you should play it:

At only $5 and boasting a coop 2-player mode, this game is one that you can pick up and play with a buddy for some old-school feels on a rainy afternoon.



Let us know what you think of Squareboy vs. Bullies in the comments section below!

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