Yatagarasu – Review
Follow Genre: Beat 'em up (2D Fighter)
Developer: PDW: Hotapen
Publisher: Rice Digital
Platform: PC (Steam)

Yatagarasu – Review

Site Score
Good: Button locking system, music, training mode
Bad: Low amount of characters, commentary by pro players
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Yatagarasu came forth from a collaboration between three people: Kotani Tomoyuki (the artist of King of Fighters), coder Shiza and Umezono, one of the best Street Fighter: Third Strike players. Together they form the studio PDW: Hotapen, responsible for recently creating some great Japanese indie games, including this Yatagarasu.


Yatagarasu exists out of the well known game modes: Arcade, Versus, Training and Online. In Arcade you’ll take one of the characters through a (too) short story, which we can’t really describe in this review since we’ve got delivered the Japanese version of the game. From what we’ve seen, each character has, as usual, its own short story line with a “boss-battle” to end with.

The graphics are ok for an indie game and they try to take you back to the real old-school style of beat ’em ups. Each character has its unique look and the special attacks of each character look like “the good old days”, including the flickering background. The backgrounds of each arena are static, but they look pretty decent and they do their job.



The music in this game is one of the best in its genre. A combination of J-pop, J-rock and J-electro brings a good mix of songs and they all contribute to a nice beat ’em up experience. There’s also a mode “Sound Test”, which gives you a basic menu to listen to all the songs while you aren’t playing. You’ll definitively want to use this!

Before each fight, you’ll have the option to pick one of three professional Japanese fighting players (Tokido, Kokujin or KSK), who’ll give commentary on your gameplay. It tries to give an original touch to the game, but this doesn’t really add a extra value to the game. It even becomes annoying after a while.

The most important part of a beat ’em up is the gameplay of course. At first sight, there is nothing special about this game. You’ll be able to use low kicks, high kicks, low punches, high punches and a special attack, just like in any other beat ’em up. But there is one feature that gives this beat ’em up an original touch: the button lock system. Button locking allows you to parry upper and lower moves by using the corresponding button. On succeeding a parry, your opponent will be stunned for a very short period and you’ll be able to use a powerful counter attack. This makes the parry an even more important feature and makes it necessary to play “unpredictable” and change your playstyle regularly.


Every punch and kick you perform or receive will increase your power meter. Once it’s full, you’ll be able to use a special attack. Each character has two, but during the character selection you’ll have to choose which of them you want to use during the fight. The power meter can be filled two times, so it’s your choice to use it immediately when your bar is full, or wait till you are able to activate it two times.

One of the biggest minors of the game is the amount of playable characters. Only eight is a bit low for the current standards. Even worse is that two out of the eight characters do have pretty much copied move lists from two other characters. Only some special skills differ. This even brings the amount of original move sets to six. A pretty weird design choice, but not unusual for retro beat ’em ups.

Training mode is this time not just a lame regular training mode. This time it’s incredibly detailed. It’s possible to configure almost everything you can think of: from the positioning or moving of your opponent, to enabling auto-guard and auto-counter. The most impressive option is to show the buttons you pressed, even on a frame-base if you like. This makes the training mode a great place to become a great fighter.


Yatagarasu is a must play for fans of the genre. This beat ’em up takes you back to the real retro style, where perfect timing and frame counting is important to win fights. Retro graphics and incredible song selection contribute in making this a real retro beat ’em up. Despite the retro style, the game tries (and succeeds) to add a new dimension to the genre by adding a new blocking system: the button lock system.

The biggest minor of Yatagarasu is the small amount of playable characters. Above that some characters have copied basic move sets, which brings the amount of real unique characters to six. A bit low for the current standard. This low amount of characters also result in a very short story line. After a few fights, you’ll already receive the “Thanks for your time” ending screen.

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