Fabulous Muscles: Shank Demo

By Quintin Smith on November 3rd, 2010 at 3:01 pm.

Shank: A Grumpycat.

Have you tried comic book-looking platformer/manfighter Shank? It came out on Steam last week, boasting a demo and a beefy £10 pricetag. Maybe £10 sounds like a lot, but then maybe you didn’t know that Shank is a game where guns, knives and your chainsaw are simply three different buttons, and protagonist Shank juggles them all like a flair bartender.

I didn’t get along much with Shank when it came out on Xbox Live, but reviews were pretty mixed. As a litmus test, you can watch a video of Shank doing his thing after the jump. If you giggle continuously or start pumping your fist in the air while watching it, Shank might just be for you.

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107 Comments »

  1. Om says:

    This looks silly, in an exceptionally boring sort of way

  2. Evil otto says:

    So Quentin… Is this part of the manshoots or the indie lagoon?

  3. Toby says:

    What a great coincident. I just started to download the demo and then bam, you made a post about it on your site. Scary..

  4. Howard says:

    O_o
    That really could not look more boring if it tried, could it?

  5. Alexander Norris says:

    Not currently available in Europe, apparently. Thanks, Steam and EA!

  6. Nallen says:

    Sooo not one for California then? ;)

  7. frags says:

    Not for keyboard warriors.

  8. Vitalis says:

    Also, Activision have thrown some limited activations DRM on top.

  9. MonkeyMonster says:

    Stopped the demo half way… nuff said really. On other news, got totally annoyingly spanked at minecraft by sudden (literal) drop of two creepers and 4 skele’s and lost all my good armour and diamond items :( Not happy bunny.

    • Clovis says:

      Did your stuff fall into lava? The item drop bug was fixed, so you could still go get it back.

      I keep an “Adventure Kit” trunk near my spawn with all the gear I’ll need to get my stuff back when I die.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Isn’t armor still useless? I don’t think he patched it to be useful again yet.

  10. Noterist says:

    The announcement trailers had me pretty hyped for this game. If the difficulty is as brutal as the animations, requiring you to be a combo master to survive, then this would definitely be my kind of game. Sadly it sounds like the game only spikes in difficulty during awful boss fights.

    Didn’t have you pegged as a Xiu Xiu man.

  11. Unaco says:

    Downloading now. When I first saw this a number of months ago, I was kind of disappointed to see it was XBox only… so kind of happy to see it getting a P(roper)C(omputer) release. Reminds me of Golden Axe or Streets of Rage, or other old skool, side-scrolling, action-oriented, beat-em-up fests. Dunno if I’ll pick it up though… but, I guess that’s what a demo is for.

    Also, I don’t know why they didn’t get a Venture Bros. licence for this, and made the main character that walking Swedish murder machine, Brock Samson.

  12. Eclipse says:

    It’s a very good and charming game, the ones saying that looks boring are just people that haven’t played it

    • Dave says:

      Agreed!

      However, the music in the above video is very tame, boring even. A splashier tune would have been much more appropriate.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yeah, it’s great fun. It’s a side scrolling Devil May Cry really. You have so many options in combat, and the way you can fight off multiple enemies while stabbing a guy in the face is brilliant.

    • The Innocent says:

      Agreed entirely. It’s fantastic. It’s discouraging to see so many people dismissing it. It’s amazingly fluid, and neither this video nor the first level really sum up how desperate some of the later fights can be.

      I got both it and DeathSpank, and really it’s Shank that I’m enjoying more. It’s also really funny, once you realize that the uber-seriousness is all parody.

  13. Harmen says:

    Tried the demo, but I needed to press all kind of weird keys all over my keyboard. Just too much exercise.

    • The Innocent says:

      Yeah, and rebinding is really rough too.

    • Martin Kingsley says:

      Agreed. Needs a (360) gamepad like whoa (I don’t think I’ve had a clunkier keyboard experience since Captain Blood, and that was back when the anvil upon which I pounded out my gaming experiences came branded with the name of the mysterious, magical Honeywell and was apparently hewn from darkest, hardest obsidian, to judge by the force necessary to operate the fucking thing), but after about a minute, I grew tired of Shank’s antics. Then again, I was also desperately discouraged by Devil May Cry, which may empirically prove that these games, they are not for me. It was very pretty, though.

  14. Igor Hardy says:

    Glad there’s a demo to try. Downloading.

  15. pkt-zer0 says:

    Guardian Heroes is still superior.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Oh my god, I love you! I had forgotten the name of that game and no one I know has ever heard of it. Me and my mate used to go and rent it from Happy Shopper every weekend. Yes, Happy Shopper.

    • Jac says:

      I must have completed that game about 3000 times – it is truly one of the best games ever made.

  16. Chizu says:

    Played the demo on PSN a while back. I can’t say I was very taken with it.
    It’s pretty, but gets kinda dull fast.

  17. Navagon says:

    A demo? If they give away more than ten minutes then that’ll be like making most of the game free.

  18. Simon says:

    I tried the demo the other day and I have to say, the game is pretty neat. As The Innocent mentioned above, the animation is ridiculously fluid and the gameplay itself is pretty smooth even on my aging machine. I dunno if I’d pay a tenner for it, and the limited activation DRM is a turn-off. I like Shank, and Klei are a pretty good developer (I enjoyed Eets quite a bit) but I don’t know if I ten quid like it.

  19. Collic says:

    I tried this for a couple of minutes before discovering its unplayable with a keyboard and mouse. They could have at least tried.

    • Dominic White says:

      Unless you can think of some way of making the keyboard a not-shitty controller that flips the fuck out whenever you press more than a couple of buttons at once, then there’s not much they can do.

    • Wulf says:

      You know, my laptop’s keyboard doesn’t have that problem, interestingly enough.

      *incredibly smug about this.*

      So I can press lots of keys at once! This is actually more helpful in general for gaming than you’d think, too.

    • Taillefer says:

      It’s to do with the key matrices. You can’t press a certain number of keys on the same matrix simultaneously. So holding down, say, four keys on the same matrix won’t work, but holding down three on two different ones still could. Some keyboards vary which keys are on the same one and any gaming keyboards are designed with it in mind so it won’t be a problem to run diagonally in an FPS. It’s nothing special or expensive to include so even cheapo keyboards may work perfectly, it’s generally just a design oversight.

  20. Ta0zenX says:

    I played this game on my Ps3 a while back, and I must recommend it to anybody who is one the fence about it. The over the top violence of it really pulls it together nicely.

  21. Bonedancer says:

    So it’s Final Fight times 2,356?

    I am so very up for that.

    • Dominic White says:

      No, no it isn’t. It’s not even close to Final Fight.

      If you want a game like that, but better, get MAME and look for the other brawlers produced by Capcom in the years after that, like Cyberbots, Battle Circuit, the Dungeons & Dragons fighting games, Aliens vs Predator, etc.

    • Nick says:

      and Die Hard arcade!

    • Dominic White says:

      Not a Capcom game, that, but if we’re going to be going off on tangents there, Guardian Heroes is still the best there is.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bBdP7Yjhgo

      It work perfectly on modern Saturn emulators, too. It regularly gets dusted off here – just plug in some gamepads and go. Everyone loves it, and it has ridiculous replay value.

    • Wulf says:

      I endorse this, retro games are actually still better at what they do than Shank is.

      What I don’t really understand is why, though the more I think of it, the more I realise that it might be because although Shank is stylish, it’s also mind-numbingly visually boring, I played the demo and it had this feel of sameyness running through it. I looked at screenshots and they all had that selfsame feel.

      One thing that old scrollers were good at was mixing up the environments, and the best… the absolute best at environments was Golden Axe. I mean, you fought in a city that was built on the back of a giant turtle. Then you battled the forces of evil atop a gigantic flying eagle as it ferried you to your final destination, that was all great stuff.

      But all of the old scrollers were pretty great at visual distinction, the Capcom arcades, the D&D games were pretty damned nifty at this, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs had some great locations, and some really fabulous enemies, there was a lot of visual variety. And that’s what Shank doesn’t have: visual variety. The bad guys all look very similar, the bosses all look very similar, and the locations all look very similar. It suffers there, because it isn’t evocative of youth, which is how these games usually work.

      A lot of indie retro-remake type deals usually work by doing the nostalgia thing, but doing a retro game as you remember it, rather than as it actually was, and some developers take retro games and fully upgrade them to the current gen pretty well, even switching genre without losing anything (Metroid Prime et al). But that’s what it’s about, it’s about making the game actually fit those rose-tinted glasses. Some games can do this pretty well, even Blade Kitten was good enough for my rose-tinted glasses.

      But Shank… Shank tries to be too mainstream. There’s a brown background, there’s another brown background, there are two guys who look like the last two guys talking about how hard they are, there’s a grey background, and there’s a brown one again. That’s what actually kills Shank, it tries to be too mainstream.

    • fuggles says:

      There is a streets of rage remake for PC – it merges all three SoR games into one big non linear thing with neat graphics. It’s currently a very good quality beta with a new version in the works for a couple of years and should be out relatively soon. I 100% recommend it – http://www.bombergames.net/sorr_project/

      As for shank, I’ll try it but I always want all brawlers to be SoR, so I think I’m actually satisfied with what I have.

    • Dominic White says:

      A quick look at the SoRR site reveals that it’s about 99.5% complete now. Literally just hours ago, a new gameplay video of one of the more complex boss battles was uploaded:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jwicgPNjLk

      Once SoRR is released, it NEEDS some RPS coverage. The feature-list is astounding. It’s basically all three games rolled into one enormous whole with a ton of new content and features, and a full set of modding tools built in.

    • fuggles says:

      It’s been 99% plus completed for a while, but yeah, I think I read sort of Xmas/New year time. Anyway, try the beta, you get Adam from SOR1 with a full move set (8 characters in total), different vs modes, guns, motorbikes and an AI buddy.

      It is all going to be thousands of times better when V5 comes out, but V4 is (to me at least) a complete package already. It’s really worth keeping eyes on as I think v5 will have ‘net play too, but give v4 a go in 1p or 2p local modes.

    • Wulf says:

      Streets of Rage Remake looks amazing, the one thing I want out of that though is Roo. There’s just something amazing about playing a beat ‘em up as a boxing kangaroo, that was just nifty. So, I looked to see if Roo was supported, sadly not… however… there are a bunch of mods for SORR, apparently! And Roo was among those mods! Hooray!!

      http://www.bombergames.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1971 (Found Roo on page 7.)

      It’d be nice if someone did this with Golden Axe, though. I’d love to see a combination of the three Golden Axe games (including the second Golden Axe arcade game, which was soooo much better than the poor excuse that got released for the Mega Drive, for shame, Sega).

    • Dominic White says:

      While poking around the SoRR forums, I discovered something especially great about the remake – rather than playing the three games in and kind of traditional order, all the 110+ stages are set up in an enormous branching Guardian Heroes style layout, so a single playthrough will take you just a single sitting with a friend, but replay value will be enormous.

      Should be due out within a month or two now. Looking bloody great.

    • fuggles says:

      yeah roo was the best (well sort of) – I believe he’s in V5 when it’s done. V4 has branching structure too. To be clear, v5 is apparently completely redone from v4, but here is the v4 map (spoilers as shows how to unlock the 3 endings).

      http://www.bombergames.net/sorr/routemap.jpeg

    • Dominic White says:

      It’s a whole different kind of scale for v5 though. Like three times as many possible stages to end up in.

    • Dominic White says:

      Looking at the numbers… Just shy of 4x, actually, and all the stuff from v4 is getting a makeover too.

  22. Dominic White says:

    I really didn’t think much of Shank. It’s very pretty and has great atmosphere. but the gameplay is basically a much more limited, slower, less varied version of The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=im8pSPeUorY) a game which was released for cheaper, and is entirely a one-man project, too.

    What it makes up for in production values it loses in everything else.

  23. Shadrach says:

    I bought it in the Shank+Spank pack, haven’t had a chance to play much but love the graphics and the violence, and sounds are great. Story is so-so and some bad voice-acting in the cut-scenes. I do have to get a 360 controller before playing anymore, much needed.

  24. Fitt3 says:

    It’s essentially like one of those flash-games you’ll find on Newgrounds, only made into a full game. So kinda meh.

    • Wulf says:

      That’s actually not that bad, Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers are actually pretty fun. What killed it is that they ticked all the mainstream boxes…

      - Is it unchallenging on every level, to the point where a child would feel insulted by it? CHECK.
      - Is it visually boring and uncreative, and thus cloyingly comfortable and familiar? CHECK.
      - Does it have GENERIC ‘ARD MEN and tremendously horrible and basic dialogue spoken by the aforementioned men? CHECK.
      - Does it appeal to male power fantasies to an almost OCD degree (likely involving sexism, too)? CHECK.
      - Does it lack depth, ingenuity, and imagination, opting instead for things which appeal to the popular overmind? CHECK.
      - Is it polished to an absolute shine, meaning that the game is stupendously shallow and has a very low level of content/ambition? CHECK.

      It tries so very, very hard to be mainstream. Which means that it’s doing well on the consoles, from what I’ve seen, and the kids love it. But me? Eeeehhhh… I think there’s better available via emulation. And the older games actually have a hell of a lot more depth than this, too.

    • Lilliput King says:

      “- Is it visually boring and uncreative, and thus cloyingly comfortable and familiar? CHECK.”

      Seriously? The in-game animations, backgrounds and overall use of colour is pretty impressive, whatever else there is to say about the game.

    • Wulf says:

      So what was the point of that post, if I may ask?

      I said visually boring and uncreative, which you quoted directly, which isn’t mutually inclusive of impressive or professional (which you seem to be getting at). You can take something boring and polish it to a shine, to the point where it will be impressive from a purely technical standpoint, but it’s no less boring. It’s not something I haven’t seen a billion times before, it just comes off as an incredibly poor man’s Samurai Jack.

    • Wulf says:

      That really is a great way to describe it; Samurai Jack, dumbed way, way, way, way, waaay down for the masses… and missing what actually made Samurai Jack great.

    • Lilliput King says:

      It’s a 2d platformer. It isn’t technically impressive, and it’s pretty damn obvious that isn’t what I was saying. How exactly does one polish “use of colour” to a shine?

  25. Gazerzef says:

    I’ve tried the demo and really enjoyed it. Would like to buy it, however, I’m in France… Anyone found a workaround ?

  26. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Bought it, played for an hour, got bored of button mashing. Will be added to the list entitled “Games I Bought On Steam and Played Once For A Little While And Never Played Again”. Think that might be getting close to the size of the “Games I Bought On Steam And Played All The Way Through” list…

    • Matt says:

      What other boring games are on that list?

    • l1ddl3monkey says:

      In no particular order:

      Risen
      Bioshock 2
      Bullet Candy
      X3
      Just Cause 2
      Super Laser Racer
      Supreme Commander 2
      Altitude
      Painkiller Black Edition
      Wanted

      All of these I’ve played for a few hours after install and, it’s not that they were necessarily boring and it isn’t that they’re indicative of a sort of game I don’t like, I just didn’t feel compelled to play any of them beyond a certain point.

      An example of the sort of games that I do play on Steam are STALKER, Dragon Age, Bioshock, Arkham Asylum, Rogue Trooper and just lately The Polynomial and BFBC2. I’m not a genre type of person, I’ll play anything as long as it holds my (admittedly gnat-like) attention.

  27. Dan says:

    In this game I hope you don’t do the things mentioned in the song Fabulous Muscles.

  28. Helm says:

    problem with this game: you shouldn’t have to stab anyone popcorn enemy (meaning, not boss) more than a couple of times to kill and certainly not chainsaw more than once, surely. Shotgun in the face and they get up? it’s stuff like that that makes it look weak and plodding. I realize the length of the game would be slashed by three fourths if what I’m suggesting was in effect but… I guess there’s no but. I’d prefer a shorter game that flows than a longer one that plods.

  29. Lambchops says:

    Tried this yesterday and didn’t really get on with it. It looks pretty but it just didn’t grab me – bit too much aimless button mashing for my liking.

    Oh and the dialogue instantly made me want to skip the cutscnes – which is never a good thing.

  30. liq3 says:

    I quite liked this game (*runs from angry mob*). Well worth the money I paid for it. (PC version) I found it quite hard and died many many times on normal before beating it.

    Dunno why everyones callin’ it boring. It’s a hack and slash game, and it does the hackin’ and the slashin’ just fine. I rather liked how simple the storyline was too. Very nice ending.

  31. geldonyetich says:

    Speaking from a modern gamer’s perspective, blood sprays were sort of interesting back in the 80s-90s fighters when the technology was backwards enough that it seemed like a mean technical trick to make them bleed when you were fighting with them, but now it just seems sort of tacky.

    For example, in that demo video run-through, those enemies look less like hardened foes that deserve a good stabbing than they do masochistic blood-filled piñatas who, were they mortal men, would have stayed down with the first shanking, chainsaw to the chest, or bullet to the forehead. It makes more sense in Devil May Cry because they’re fighting demons, but not here. If the enemies had a bit of sense, they would have acknowledged the aftermath of the first half-dozen or so mutilated corpses and realized, if the protagonist is that badness, they need to get out of there and come back with a howitzer or gunship or something.

    I know, you’re supposed to exhibit a bit of suspension of disbelief and accept it for the power fantasy it is, but this brings us back to the blood sprays, which are features representative of realism.

  32. dayeight says:

    xiu xiu reference?

  33. Sassenach says:

    At 1:40

    Murray?

  34. Fatrat says:

    Best action platformer since Metal Slug, tbh.

    OK, maybe not SINCE then (since that’s about 20 years ago)… but it plays a lot like MS. Good stuff. Completed it a couple of days ago.

    • Fatrat says:

      Just watched the video, man… i can see why there are so many haters in here now. It makes the game look so damn dull. I have the PC version, not sure if there’s a difference (UI looks a tiny bit different, top left)… but even on Normal mode i was being mobbed by enemies and having to juggle 2-3 fights at once in a very ‘Christian Bale in Equilibrium’ kind of way.

    • postmanX3 says:

      Just watched it myself… it’s clearly beta gameplay. This is a rather poor choice of gameplay footage.

  35. postmanX3 says:

    The amount of negative comments makes me sad. Having played quite a few side-scrollers/shooters, I personally believe this is easily one of the best games in said genre of all time. It’s fluid, has a great difficulty curve, is immensely visceral and rewarding, and manages to have quite a sense of humor at times.

    • Sir Derpicus says:

      Of all time?
      BITCH, YOU DID NOT JUST COMPARE KILL BIG SPRITES: THE GAME TO MY METAL SLUG 3
      I’LL FUCKING FIGHT YOU

  36. MD says:

    Tried the demo. It’s one of those games that seems well-executed for what it is, but what it is is fundamentally uninteresting to me. It actually gave me the same feeling the Batman:AA demo did, but in 2D and with a completely different tone and aesthetic. Stylish, smooth, polished, but feels like it pretty much plays itself. I’m not arguing that’s what the full games are like, these were just demo impressions.

  37. the wiseass says:

    Cadillacs vs. Dinosaurs.

  38. poop says:

    dreary buttonmasher with all the style and class of a newgrounds flash cartoon that i got tired of when I turned 13

  39. pimorte says:

    klei’s other game ‘EETS’ is very fun. I highly recommend getting that puzzler if you’ve got a few spare dollars.

  40. Craymen Edge says:

    I tried the demo when it came out on Xbox Live, but despite being quite attractive in a cartoony way, I lost interest quickly.

    Being unable to change plane at all did make this into something of a one-note trudge left to right.

    • Dominic White says:

      If you’ve got a 360, try The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai. Came out earlier, and is better in pretty much all regards but graphics, and that’s because it’s developed by a team of 1.

  41. bonjovi says:

    rubbish trailer. sack the person who approved it.

    game is so much fun, played through it on one go, it’s 5h game play, but it’s intense :-)

    love the boss fights :-)

  42. UW says:

    Somehow I feel that the music in this particular level doesn’t fit the gameplay. It’s not that I don’t like the music.. it just.. somehow doesn’t seem to work.

    I might check it out at some point, Streets of Rage II is one of my all-time favourite games. I don’t expect it to compare to it, but.. just.. it’s a genre that I’m fond of.

    Someone further up mentioned Newgrounds flash games. The best one in this genre I’ve ever played is called “Gogo Happy & Smile”, a Korean game. Absolutely fantastic.

  43. Foxmonster says:

    You sound like the kind of people who believe that Manshoots are the epitome of gaming.

  44. Malibu Stacey says:

    It’s only available on Steam yet comes with extra added DRM?

    No fank ewe.

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