Jitsu Squad is a (sometimes fast paced) side scrolling beat ‘em up with eye-catching visuals and foot-tapping music. CRUSH OR DIE!
The gameplay in Jitsu Squad isn’t perfect, but it is fun. You jump, hack, slash, punch, and… several-other-verbs your way through distinct stages. Each character has their own fighting style and their own whacky powerups. While a little zany, most of the game will feel familiar if you’ve played beat ‘em ups before.
The developers made a few odd changes here, however, that hinder the gameplay.
First, they positioned the jump and attack buttons on opposite sides of the face buttons, instead of adjacent to each other like most games. I wanted to change controls, but doing so also changed the controls for navigating the menus. In other words, it’s possible to have Y to be “select” and A to be “back”, and my brain couldn’t handle it. Therefore, I was stuck playing with the default controls.
Second, it’s not possible to drop in and drop out, like most beat ‘em ups. To add or remove a player (or change characters), you need to start a whole new game. This is made even more frustrating due to the lengthy load times and the fact that you can only have one save at a time (a fact that the game doesn’t tell you).
Finally, even though there are four characters, and it’s clearly inspired by 4-player beat ‘em ups, it’s only a two player game.
Art and Sound
The art and sound is one aspect of Jitsu Squad that is objectively good. Both are crafted with love and tailor made for each level.
Every stage has a fun, unique theme (arcade, spooky castle, dojo, etc.) and the developers did an amazing job of creating nice visuals and thematic music.
To be completely honest, Jitsu Squad is broken. Loading took an average of 45 seconds to get into the game and then you had the hope that the game worked long enough to let you complete a stage.
Performance issues plague every inch of my experience with Jitsu Squad. It’s supposed to be a fast-paced brawler, but the constant stuttering and freezing, especially with special attacks, caused the game to move at a snail’s pace. Music cuts out constantly and sprites pop in and out with checkerboards distractingly often (see picture below).
The most unforgivable part, however, is the crashing. The game takes almost a full minute to load and, for me, crashed AT LEAST once per stage. This means that for each stage, I had to play it multiple times, while stopping in the middle to restart the whole game (which, again, happened 2 – 4 times per stage and took 2+ minutes to get from game-start to actually playing).