Review – Uppers

Uppers was originally released for PS Vita and PS4 in Asia a few years ago. Even though plans for a Western release, as well as full-blown localization were announced in 2018, the game would only be released on Steam two years later, with little to no fanfare. I was wondering why would its publisher decide to release it in such a quiet manner, as the game did not look like something that controversial in press kits and screenshots. It looked like your average anime brawler. Playing the official Western release of Uppers made me understand why it’s being released in a way that makes it look like its higher-ups want to forget about its existence.

Uppers

The combat is weighty and over-the-top. Just how I like it.

At its core, Uppers is actually a decent 3D beat ’em up, with a surprisingly robust combat system. It features your standard “light attack + heavy attack + grab” control scheme, but with the addition of an automatic dodge mechanic whenever you hold down the left trigger. Plus some special attack prompts that deliver so many punches onscreen that even Fist of the North Star looks tame in comparison. Shockingly enough, it feels great! The game might not exactly look like a current-gen staple, but it’s well-animated, with each punch feeling heavy and dangerous.

I was mostly certain I was going to love Uppers by the looks of its combat and overall presentation. It didn’t look that dated for a Vita game, despite not being well-optimized, and it featured tons of anime cutscenes with full-blown voice acting. In short, I was sensing some massive Yakuza vibes, especially considering the fact that the Yakuza series is basically as campy as the campiest of anime, just with a more realistic coat of paint. Then my enjoyment came to a halt.

Uppers

It’s a shame that this game is as perverted as it is. Its combat gameplay is not bad at all…

One thing I hadn’t noticed by then was that Uppers was developed by Honey Parade Games. I should have raised the alarm by then. For those who, up until now, weren’t aware of this company’s existence, they’re the people responsible for the Senran Kagura series. You know, those games all about practically naked anime high schoolers being touched in every single way that, for reasons beyond my comprehension, is not yet considered child molesting.

Uppers

I didn’t need to know that. You’re 17.

Uppers is pervy. Unbelievably pervy. The story revolves around making women feel horny next to you by beating the living crap out of every dude in sight, which is actually the smallest of the game’s thematic issues. That would put Uppers next to any American Pie movie released back in the day. As in, horny but somewhat lighthearted, but then gets worse. Everything you do revolves around getting chicks or touching them inappropriately. Lifting their skirts, motorboating, getting love letters with gratuitous content by punching a dude the way the girl asked you to, and of course, being a game made by the same people behind Shinobi Refle, “jiggle physics”.

Why.

Upon getting a love letter from a girl, you can “play with her” back at your apartment. That actually means playing dress-up with her and touching her in inappropriate places. You will also receive panties throughout levels, which act as passive buffs for your character, such as health upgrades or a temporary power boost. Everything in Uppers revolves around being a perverted weirdo punching everyone in order to get a chance to lift a girl’s skirt and get her panties. Basically to the point where I started questioning Honey Parade’s developers’ sanity. May I remind you that they’re all underage? Who the hell greenlit this?

This, my friends, is a textbook example of being hella insecure.

It’s not that this simply felt offensive, it just felt creepy. What is wrong with Honey Parade Games? There is nothing wrong with a bit of fanservice as long as the gameplay doesn’t center around it. Banner of the Maid featured the largest breasts not seen in a silicon implant convention, but you could easily ignore it and just enjoy a fairly decent Final Fantasy Tactics clone. Hell, even Honey Parade’s previous outing, Kandagawa Jet Girls, while unnecessarily idiotic with its skimpy outfits, still could be enjoyed as a fairly normal jet ski racing game if you just decided to ignore its cutscenes. The problem with Uppers is that its creepiness is part of its gameplay, and boy does it look stupid.

Uppers

Gurl, I couldn’t agree more.

In short, Uppers could have been a fairly decent brawler if it wasn’t for its borderline idiotic creeper factor. It does feature a nice art style and a really good combat system, but they just had to shove in a ton of gratuitous and disturbing content that does nothing to improve the overall experience. It’s just one of those unnecessary games that practically force you to play it with your room door’s closed and windows shut. Because let’s face it, you really don’t want to be seen motorboating a Vita-era anime girl whose breasts jiggle more than a waterbed.

 

Graphics: 6.5

For a game originally released for the PS Vita, it doesn’t look that bad. It’s surprisingly well-animated, especially when you’re punching foes around. It’s just not very well-optimized.

Gameplay: 7.5

The combat mechanics are responsive and weighty. Punching people feels heavy and cathartic. The camera isn’t exactly the best, nor is the framerate.

Sound: 6.0

Your standard anime fare. Over-the-top music and a ton of exaggerated voice acting. There is also an original tune being played whenever you boot the game up, but it’s lame.

Fun Factor: 3.0

Uppers could have been a fairly good beat ’em up if it wasn’t for the ludicrous amount of creepy content. Those girls are all underage, for crying out loud…

Final Verdict: 5.5

Uppers is available now on PC. Also available on PS Vita and PS4 in Asia.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Uppers was provided by the publisher.