Preview: Hands-on with Toxic Crusaders at PAX East 2023

Preview: Hands-on with Toxic Crusaders at PAX East 2023

J.J. goes hands-on with Retroware’s upcoming brawler, based on a wild, niche cartoon from the 90s that was based on a wild, niche movie from the 80s.

It’s still very early in the development of Retroware’s Toxic Crusaders, but it still somehow managed to have a big enough booth at PAX East that it was clearly meant to whet the appetites of fans who are enjoying the recent retro property renaissance. In fact it’s a surprise that this even exists, because it’s based on a Nineties cartoon that only ran for 13 episodes, which itself was based on an extremely niche (and violent) Eighties movie series. Aimed at kids, the show changed enough from the films to make it passable to parents, and even though it reduced the violence and sex it still kept the grossness.

The game capitalizes on that, but does so in a very traditional side-scrolling brawler. Move from left to right, beat up a bunch of bad guys, and then take on a boss. It feels run of the mill, actually, and there’s nothing all that exciting about it from a gameplay standpoint. But it’s well made, and it’s really good looking. The animation is smooth and the characters are big and bold, and it does feel like they’re doing some justice to this long-forgotten IP.

There are times in the demo that the AI would force an enemy to step off screen, making them difficult to go after, so we were stuck waiting for the them to come back. It wasn’t uncommon to follow them off the to the side and start pummeling the edge of the play field until some hits were landed somewhere. The AI was still smart enough to find us, but they didn’t seem to be on a permanent/set path… yet. We overheard the developers bring up the issue a couple of times, so hopefully it’s something that’s being worked on.

For those of us who like our bizarre nostalgic history it’s neat to see this property come back into the public eye, so we’ll keep an eye on it and see how the rest of the game outside of that short demo actually fills out.

Images and video courtesy Retroware.