Back in May, developer Rumblecade released a side-scrolling beat ’em up called Rockabilly Beatdown (Free) that featured simple button-mashing gameplay and some of the nicest pixel art and animation I’d seen. Despite being a simple game with just a single attack button, there was some hidden depth to Rockabilly Beatdown that slowly unveiled itself the more you played. With the charm and personality of the characters in the game, this was definitely an “endless high-scoring" take on the beat ’em up genre that I could get behind. The biggest problem was that it felt like a one-trick pony and, besides shooting for high scores, there wasn’t a ton of meat on the bones in terms of progression and unlocks, things we had issues with in our review. That’s something that Rumblecade has attempted to rectify with the first big update for Rockabilly Beatdown.
Previously, the game featured 3 characters available from the start that each had alternate black outfits you could purchase via IAP. There was also a fourth character who was strictly IAP. One thing Rumblecade made clear from the start was that all their IAP and alternate characters were cosmetic only, as they didn’t want to have a pay-to-win element to their game but wanted to offer up some cool bonus stuff for those who liked the game and wanted to drop additional money. After this update, those black alternate outfits are now unlockable and you can earn them simply by beating the crap out of enough enemies using each of the characters. There’s also an alternate on-fire version of the Cornfield level that’s also unlockable just through playing. In addition, there’s a new unlockable Boss Rush mode if you can manage to kill 5 bosses in the same run, which shouldn’t be too difficult for most people.
All these unlockables are tracked through a new Progress tab on the title screen. Here you can also keep track of your all-time stats and high scores, see a list of which “Fist Rewards" you’ve unlocked, and see how far along you are in unlocking the alternate costumes, alternate level, and Boss Rush mode. And about that previous IAP-only character from the original version of the game? She’s still IAP-only, and there’s actually a new IAP-only character to accompany her. This continues Rumblecade’s original vision of offering some extra cosmetic variety for those who wanted it, and each of the IAP-only characters also come with new levels and enemy types that’ll get mixed into the rotation for all the characters in the game once purchased. But again, they’re not required in any way.
I think the developers did a nice job of offering initial players a nice progression system while not requiring them to purchase anything beyond the initial price, and adding in some cool bonuses for those who want to spend a little more. The best part is that they’ve set up this system so that lots more extras can be added in via updates down the road, both paid and free, and indeed they’ve already got stuff in the works for future updates. While Rockabilly Beatdown isn’t the type of game that will set the world (or cornfield) on fire, it’s a lot of silly fun and quite strategic once you learn the timing and enemy behaviors. There’s just something about it I really like, and it feels like a lot more well-rounded experience thanks to this update. I’ll be curious to see how it continues to evolve in the future, and if you want to follow along as well, be sure to keep tabs on our forums where the developer has been very active.