Lethal League is a fighting game which is available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Lethal League’s developer Team Reptile started out in late 2011 with a prototype of their debut game; the customisable fighter and beat ‘em up Megabyte Punch which released on PC in 2013 to such critical acclaim as being billed as one of the 15 most anticipated indie games of 2013 by IndieGameMag. Megabyte Punch was followed by Lethal League which released on PC on August 27th 2014 before being ported to home consoles in May 2017. Can Lethal League ascend beyond the popularity of Megabyte Punch?

Lethal League intuitively combines fighting and baseball in a unique blend of gameplay as every participating A.I. or human controlled player attempts to appropriately time their swing at the ball and guide it directly back at their opponent until it hits that respective character in order to score a point. There are some clever gameplay elements which varies the action from match to match such as a 4 bar meter that gradually fills one bar at a time when you successfully strike the ball, although with each strike of the ball; the ball’s movement becomes faster. Each character has 5 stocks that are essentially a life represented by a stock which is removed one at a time as the character is hit by the ball; which ultimately defines who wins the match.

Challenge mode can be found within the extras menu; providing a single player versus mode as you compete against increasingly harder A.I. controlled opponents throughout 10 matches which are mostly 1 vs. 1 matches, although a 2 vs. 2 team match were you also have an A.I. controlled partner is introduced in the third challenge mode match.

Training mode allows one player to select any stage and practice their timing of swinging to strike the ball and getting used to the ball travelling at faster speeds, while a How to Play guide teaches the basics to the player including how to hit the ball, aiming at targets, jumping, smashing the ball, bunting the ball, bunting then smashing, hitting an opponent with the ball and how to perform a special attack.

XP can be earned by naturally playing the game regardless of whether your character wins or loses, although more XP is awarded to reflect how good your performance was within the match. Accumulating enough XP to level up results in an unlockable reward such as reaching level 12 unlocks a big ball; while the majority of the levels produce an alternative character skin such as attaining level 7 unlocks a new character skin for Dice.

Character design is quite varied between the six characters available for selection as every character has unique traits within their personality such as Candyman who hits the ball with his cane, tap dances, dresses in a jazz fashion sense and has a special ability to change the molecular compound of particular objects to provide them with strangely altered properties. Meahwile, Switch is an ex-working class robot turned skateboarder who hits the ball with his skateboard; Raptor is a young, determined up and comer in the Lethal League scene with a special ability in which he can turn around and quickly hit the ball twice in a row; Latch is a cyborg crocodile; Dice is a ping pong player who wields his ping pong paddle to hit the ball; and Sonata is an athletic street dancer who carries a giant hammer with an equally large boombox attached to the end of it to hit the ball. Alternatively, a random character can be chosen which alternates from match to match.

Environment design is rather varied as there are 7 stages set in locations including a combination of desert and factories in the industrial outskirts as the sunsets, an abandoned pool, an underground sewer system, a small claustrophobic padded room known as Room 21, city streets, a moving train referred to as the Hammer Express and a bridge overlooking a state manufacturing factory or a random stage can be selected in specific modes.

Until Lethal League hopefully receives a Vita port; remote play allows players to take their baseball style fighting anywhere or utilise the Vita as an additional controller during local multiplayer. The default control scheme is fully intact which results in a comfortable remote play experience that is of equal quality in graphics, audio and general performance as the PS4 version.

The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller as they are simplistic to learn and are customisable. The default control scheme consists of pressing square to swing; pressing O to bunt; pressing X to jump; pressing triangle to taunt; changing the direction of the left analogue stick or alternatively pressing left or right on the d-pad to move your character when not swinging; holding the left analogue stick downwards or pressing down on the d-pad to duck in order to avoid a ball hit at a medium height; changing the direction of the left analogue stick towards the upper left or right to aim the angle of your swing; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Vibration occurs when your character has been hit by the ball, while the light bar produces a bright white colour throughout gameplay, although there is no touch pad implementation which could have been an alternative for character movement or aiming your swing.

Graphically, Lethal League is a magical mixture of cel-shaded characters on a backdrop that wonderfully combines cel-shading and a hint of retro to form a unique aesthetic which is visually very pleasing on the eyes, while animations are of the same quality and are suitably high paced.

The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, online multiplayer menus, local multiplayer versus menus, extra menus, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. The background of the main menu showcases one of the stages during heavy rain, while images representing each of the characters scroll during mode and character selection menus. During matches, a stereo at the bottom of the screen featuring a graphic equaliser; does not only inform players of the artist performing the current song, but also the amount of time elapsed in the match and most impressively of all, the current speed of the ball.

Voice-overs include an announcer informing the players to “Get ready” and “Play ball” in the build up to matches, “Game!” at the end of a match followed by a taunting dialogue such as “Hardly worth my time” stated by the winner of the match as well as grunts, groans and humorous reactions to being hit by the ball from those participating during matches. Sound effects include striking, bunting and smashing the ball, performing a special attack and the ball rebounding off surfaces; which are complimented by catchy dance and funk music. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which is surprising as it could have produced voice-overs from the announcer and participating characters or sound effects.

The trophy list includes 13 trophies with 9 bronze trophies, 3 silver trophies and 1 gold trophy. Easier trophies include the Lethal Rivals bronze trophy for rallying the ball back and forth at least 10 times and the 1st Division bronze trophy for playing 100 matches. Harder trophies include the Full House silver trophy for beating the challenge mode with every character and the Doombox Slam Dunk gold trophy for beating the challenge mode without using any continues. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take around 10 hours to 100% the trophy list.

There are no difficulty levels, but the difficulty curve revolves around your hand-to-eye co-ordination in relation to accurately swinging at the ball; particularly when the ball is moving at excessively high speeds as the ball’s movement increases in pace for every occasion it is struck, while the A.I. controlled opponents in challenge mode become gradually harder to defeat with each round that you manager to progress onto.

Local competitive and co-operative multiplayer for 2 to 4 players spread throughout 3 fun modes including free for all in which every player aims at another player, while team is a 2 vs. 2 competitive yet simultaneously co-operative match as both teams vie to destroy their opponents, alongside strikers which sees each player attempting to score goals for their respective team in a 1 vs. 1 or 2 vs. 2 match by hitting the target to progress towards being the first team to reach 10 goals.

Online multiplayer allows players to select their own preferred search criteria such as 1 vs. 1 or free for all mode in quick match, while host game creates your own online lobby to invite friends into and wait for players to join, alongside the inclusion of in-game network settings such as automatic or manual which comprises of a customisable input delay that tailors the online multiplayer experience to compensate for network latency in order to produce a performance that is as close to the quality of the single player and local multiplayer as possible. However, a second or third player cannot locally join the online lobby; therefore requiring a player searching for a match or creating an online lobby to wait for a potentially disappointing period of time before being able to participate in an online multiplayer match.

There are no online leaderboards, although perhaps some creative uses could have seen an online leaderboard for the fastest movement speed of the ball after the player had their final swing at the ball in what would be a true test of endurance, while there also could have been a wins and losses online leaderboard.

Replayability stems from learning how to strike the ball accurately when moving at high speeds, local and online competitive and co-operative multiplayer for 2 to 4 players, a 10 match challenge mode and unlockable character skins earned as rewards for levelling up which will collectively have players returning for quite some time as there is definitely a one more match kind of attractive gameplay.

Analysis
• Title: Lethal League
• Developer: Team Reptile
• Publisher: Team Reptile
• System: PS4
• Format: PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1-4 (Local and Online Competitive and Co-operative Multiplayer)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 537.7MB (Version 1.01)

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Jason
Jason plays all genres of games and enjoys all different kinds of experiences that the games industry has to offer. Jason’s favourite PlayStation exclusive franchises throughout various eras include: Crash Bandicoot, God of War, Gran Turismo, inFamous, Killzone, Little Big Planet, MotorStorm, Resistance, Spyro the Dragon, Uncharted, Wipeout and various games that never became big name franchises. A special mention goes to Black Rock’s superb Split Second: Velocity as it is rather unbelievable that it will never receive a sequel. Jason now mainly plays modern PlayStation games on home console and portably, but occasionally returns to the old retro classics on the 3DO, PS1 and PS2 such as discovering Cool Spot Goes to Hollywood 20 years after its original release on PS1. Jason is happy to see gaming coming full circle with updates for retro classics such as Alien Breed, Superfrog and Crash Bandicoot.

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