Revengers of Vengeance. Such a title must presage a game of complete and utter distinction, correct? Such would be the case here: Revengers of Vengeance is indeed a game unlike any other. This quality may not be enough to compel RPGamers into playing it, with good reason considering the myriad of ways Revengers of Vengeance fails at being well done.
Revengers of Vengeance somehow manages to fuse an RPG with a fighting game, in a fine demonstration of how not to develop either. Fighting games require tight, responsive controls. The controls found in Revengers of Vengeance are not absolutely horrible, but are mushy enough to feel unreliable. This in and of itself succeeds in disqualifying Revengers of Vengeance from any appeal as a fighting game. As to how it messes up RPG elements... that will be covered in due time. There is the third game element of the vertically-scrolling shooter to be considered also, but as it is disassociated from the effects of the fighting game and RPG engines I will discuss it separately.
As Revengers of Vengeance contains a fighting game's engine, there are 10 characters to select from, with some fairly unorthodox choices among the list (not many games let a player control a harpy, though Talon is supposedly something else). Each one has a simple little story that is taken up entirely with a short FMV at the beginning and end of his/her quest. All of them boil down to the same basic idea however: a nasty guy named Venum is out there and is going to take over the world in one year, absent the player's character beating him down. The text is fairly well translated despite the oddity of Revengers of Vengeance's name (that I can't stop saying for some reason) but the little snippets of voice acting in the FMV are only good for amusing the player.
Having chosen a character the player wanders about in the game's town, cleverly named City of Vengeance. There are several shops in the City of Vengeance that sell a variety of randomized items (including plenty of items that permanently raise statistics), a Gym that can also raise statistics but in practice is useless with other methods available, a pub which is essentially a money sinkhole, an Inn to save and heal at (though healing is only necessary if one uses the Gym, as health is replenished otherwise), a Guild, the Fortune Teller's abode, and a couple of buildings to take care of mundane options and technical matters to do with the game.
The Fortune Teller is vital to visit frequently. For 50 gold each time, she can raise the player's level provided enough experience has been gained. If not enough experience has been gained, too bad! Her fortunes are accurate at giving the location the player should go to obtain an item in the fighting game's portions (more later) but are otherwise unnecessary. So, yes, in order to raise levels the player must constantly visit the Fortune Teller and pay her to raise each level. She will also count down the days remaining until Venum returns (and when he returns the player automatically loses), though someone forgot to note that a year has 365 days instead of 200. And since the length of the year is the span of time the player has until victory must be achieved, this may matter.
Experience and money are gained in two fashions. The first finds the player venturing out of town and seeking one of the other characters in the game (or a palette-swap of the player's current character) to engage in a best-two-out-of-three contest in standard fighting game fashion. Experience and gold are awarded whether the player wins or loses, though winning obviously nets more. A few days are necessary in the game world for travel between town and the other fighter's location as well. Though RPGamers with no aptitude for fighting games may disagree, besting the AI is remarkably easy in these contests. Controls here are in the vein of Street Fighter II, except much sloppier and with barely any combos possible.
Entering the Guild brings up the other way to earn experience and gold. Should the player be able to afford the fee for taking on a quest, then a vertically-scrolling shooter section begins. The player's character is irrelevent for this section, as all control the same: button A rapid-fires and button B charges a more powerful shot. The character can take three hits before expiring. Failure means the Guild fee is lost and no money is gained, though experience is still acquired. These sections are initially fun but get repetitive quickly thanks to the very limited number of quests (5) and the short stages. The stages can be harder on occasion, with enemies filling the screen with bullets, but never get any longer or add additional foes. The Guild is a more efficient means of gaining funds and experience than fighting other characters, however. Eventually the player must find (either after a match with another character or in a shop) the Dispell book, which is vital to open up Venum's sanctum. The player must then defeat Jabo, a very irritating creature both because it is immune to throws and because projectiles heal it. Beating Jabo and using the item obtained from it lets the player challenge Venum himself, and beating him ends the game.
Visuals are pretty good if a bit lacking in color for the fighting segments, and decidedly unimpressive elsewhere. The parts in the City of Vengeance could have been done in an early NES game. The music is rather good, though the Guild quests really could have used more than one composition (decent as it is). The voice acting outside of FMV segments is untranslated but is also unnecessary to understand, while the FMV voice acting is simply atrocious but amusing in that regard.
The challenge in Revengers of Vengeance depends upon two things: how much repetition the player can stand (to beef up stats in the game) and how good the player is at spamming cheap moves in the fighting game portions. Though Jabo in particular is a cheap punk, if the player takes away 1/3 of his life with each hit and he takes 1/50 of the player's life bar, the outcome ought to be forgone. Venum is easier to beat than Jabo, through some strange logic known only to the programmers. Though there are 10 characters to play as in the game, and they do feel different in the fighting game portions, replaying this title is definitely not going to be the first thought of most players. Depending upon how much the player wishes to pump his/her character, the game can probably be completed in around 2 hours or as much as 5.
Revengers of Vengeance does a lot of things no other RPG has ever done. Unfortunately it demonstrates precisely why the fighting game and the RPG are generally regarded as incompatible: the balance of a good fighting game does not mesh with making characters stronger with respect to each other RPG-style. At least not in this game. Revengers of Vengeance does a lot of things wrong, but it isn't unplayable and is somewhat interesting simply as a demonstration of some unique mechanics. When the only reason it can be recommended is as a cheap novelty, however, all is not right with a game.