Arrowhead Game Studios, the guys that brought us Magicka, are giving us an altogether different experience and a chance to replay our favorite '80s cinematic action sequences in The Showdown Effect, published by Paradox Interactive. Up to 8 players involved in Solo and team games can join in a mix of 4 different game modes, each customizable to host preferred rule sets (e.g. swords only). Fight with ranged or melee weapons, and even throw in a little kung-fu action, if you like. Rewards are unlocked with points earned based on performance in a match. Unlockables are mostly cosmetic, comprised of skins for weapons and character attire, with the exception of the weapon types, which are pretty standard pistol/shotgun/rpg fare. Simple, and effective. There is also leveled character progression, but no details on what that affords just yet.

The charm of this game comes from the individual character personalities - action heroes from different genres - expressing themselves in exclaimed, cliched one-liners while dusting opponents in all manner of breakneck repertoire. In Showdown Mode, environments are affected at the end of the 5 minute round to reflect the "showdown", a sudden-death phase of kill or be killed, leaving only one standing as the world falls in ruin behind you. For awesome, indeed. The beta includes two levels - a fish market in Neo Tokyo, and a medieval castle - cut from the two main environments, which appear to be the larger Neo Tokyo and Medieval landscapes. Interactive to a degree: glass shatters as you dive through windows, elevators can take you between floors, and weapon pickups are scattered all around, for improvisation. The games description references that "four levels across two different environments" will be available in the full game, so if you are in the beta, and you like what you see, expect twice as much of exactly that. Announced game modes so far include free-for-all (Showdown mode) and team elimination. Dev diary videos seem to indicate testing with a capture-the-flag type game mode, which I would love to see.

When it comes down to what makes or breaks a platformer, its usually the control mechanics. Movement here is fluid and precise; a real sense of tangible footing, and the timing in your responses is trustworthy, barring latency. Maneuverability within The Showdown Effect quickly becomes a natural reflex, freeing you up to focus on turning foes into headless, limbless victims, like extras in a Tarantino film, in the all glory of a John McTiernan film. Targeting these poor souls is a matter of precision as well. The reticle has to be on target, not behind or in front, otherwise it's a no-hit. Takes a little getting used to, but ultimately satisfying. This would also seem to deny any support for gamepads.

One cool little feature is integrated streaming, to premiere to your hordes of adoring fans just how you get it done. No third party software required.

Really, the only frustration that I've come across in the ten hours I've logged is latency issues, which are unavoidable. Granted, this is still beta, but even at this stage of the process, I don't regret the money I dropped to join in. You can participate by pre-ordering on the Steam page or at the official website:

Prices are $9.99 for the standard edition, $19.99 for deluxe edition, both come with cool extras. According to developers, there is no option yet to upgrade from standard to deluxe, but it sounds like they are trying to work something out. The Showdown Effect is due out March 2013.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 02/13/2013 at 12:01am

I totally dig how the trailer used the voice of the guy that did lots of action movie trailers in the 80's and 90's.

Is this multi-player only or does it have some sort of Single Player component as well? I like the action movie brawler feel, its really cool. Since I love grisly action films, this feels familiar :D

The Twitch native integration is a totally awesome idea as these kinds of multi-player games will be all over Twitch anyway and taking out the middle man is a nice feature. In fact, I hope to see more of this come out in the future. That or some kind of in game video export or something.

scrypt   Supporter   Post Author wrote on 02/13/2013 at 05:41am

It will be primarily multiplayer, but the devs said they are playing with ideas that give the sense of a single player experience in specific game modes. Sounds like an interesting challenge.

I never gave Twitch much of a chance until recently. Now I'm surprised more games haven't implemented this as a feature. I'm hooked.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 02/13/2013 at 03:16pm

Thats a good way to approach it. Even UT3 had a single player of sorts, it was just a story wrapped up in UT3 matches. Still fun.

Twitch is interesting. Right now its hard for me to get over certain channels "Wacky DJ" mentality. I love humor and fun, but sort of left 90's radio shock personalities and with bigger Twitch people they seem to be coming back. Beyond that, its fun to watch people play games I am not thinking about too often.

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