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post-16 post-13

Troublemaker Raise Your Gang Is Not The Indonesian Bully Game We Wanted

Platforms: PC
Genre: Beat-Em-Up, Adventure, Action RPG, School

It’s been almost two decades (!) since the release of Rockstar Games’ Bully game. However, perhaps due to the controversial nature of the game, the genre (action adventure or open-world beat-em-up games in school settings) hasn’t really sparked many copycats or clones like GTA has. Troublemaker Raise Your Gang from Indonesian developer Gamecom Team attempts to replicate the best of Bully with local flavour but does it succeed? Read on to find out.

School Fight

The best thing about Troublemaker Raise Your Gang is its unique and authentic Indonesian school setting, with the characters even speaking multiple Indonesian languages, from Bahasa Indonesia, Javanese, Sundanese and more. This reflects the diversity of the people living in Indonesia and it’s great that the characters in this game represent those demographics. It’s not every day that we get to see an Indonesian or Southeast Asian school setting in a game, so kudos to the developers for recreating that.

The overall plot in the game doesn’t make much sense, it’s your typical edgy and over-exaggerated Asian school drama. You know, like the ones you see in the Crow’s Zero franchise and Tokyo Revengers manga/anime from Japan, as well as the recent Malaysian hit series, Project High Council. You don’t really see this much in American school settings, but the school settings in Asia and Southeast Asia often depict these rowdy “gangster” students trying so hard to be cool and badass by fighting through school to show how tough they are without any concrete or logical reason. They just fight to be popular or stay at the top of the social food chain. That’s exactly how it is in Troublemaker Raise Your Gang.

Another praiseworthy aspect of Troublemaker Raise Your Gang is the unique local-style artwork used for the dialogue scenes and cutscenes. They’re somewhat inspired by JRPGs like the Persona series, but with Southeast Asian/Indonesian-style art that you see in local comics from the region. Too bad they couldn’t translate that into the in-engine visuals for the game itself, since everything looks decent (powered by Unreal Engine) but a bit too bland and unmemorable. Fortunately, the characters in the game are quite endearing and I grew to like them by the time the game ends.

You don’t care about the plot but you’re here to fight and beat up other school kids, right? Unfortunately, the weakness of this game is its combat and gameplay. Obviously, that’s bad, considering well, Troublemaker Raise Your Gang is a video game.

A For Effort

Seriously, you’re better off replaying Bully or any of the Yakuza/Like A Dragon games if you want to have fun with satisfying 3D brawler beat-em-up combat. That’s because you won’t find any in Troublemaker Raise Your Gang. From the tutorial in the beginning, the combat in Troublemaker Raise Your Gang already feels so janky, imprecise and unsatisfying. Why is that? Firstly, it’s too simplistic. There are no elaborate combos to execute. On an Xbox controller, you press X and A buttons for light and heavy attacks. The B button is to parry/counter, and that’s all I did from the beginning of the game to the very end (around five hours long).

Okay, sure, there are super moves you can unlock and unleash during combat, but due to how janky the combat feels, none of these feels as powerful as they should be. Also, they do so little damage that it boggles the mind why they’re meant to be super attacks at all, especially since you need to build up a meter before you can execute these so-called Sick Moves.

Still, that’s not the worst of it. Most 3D brawler beat-em-ups, including the aforementioned Bully and Yakuza games, feature the ability to grapple enemies and usually execute spectacular-looking attacks with them. You know, like in Bully, you can grapple enemies and throw them or interact with the environment (like tossing them in bins). Unfortunately, Troublemaker Raise Your Gang does NOT have the ability to grapple at all. The protagonist, Budi, can’t grapple. There’s no button to grapple.

All you can do is punch and kick and execute Sick Moves. That’s all the combat amounts to, so you can probably guess how extremely repetitive the game gets even after a few fights. If you add the jankiness and the fact that upgrades don’t noticeably do much to improve your character’s attacks (attacks do so little damage to bosses), it can get boring and frustratingly annoying just spamming A and X until the enemy is eventually defeated. Plus, parrying/countering enemy attacks feels so unresponsive that I found myself simply tapping the B button without caring for actually timing my presses like in other melee-heavy games.

Oh, and what is it with game developers and the urge to shoehorn in a forced stealth section in a game that doesn’t even feature stealth as an actual core gameplay mechanic? Troublemaker Raise Your Gang is guilty of that too, as on forced stealth section near the end of the game has me grabbing my head with frustration. Since the game doesn’t have any stealth mechanics, it’s almost impossible to properly gauge how far the enemies’ cone of detection is. This stealth section is the only part of the game where I actually experienced the game over screen. Several times.

Besides combat, there are rare sections in the game where you can free-roam around the school. And yeah, the game pretty much only features the same school setting for the majority of its playtime. During free roaming, you can talk to other students or play minigames. These minigames range from doing push-ups (by flicking the analogue sticks), card games, hide-and-seek games, and even one game that’s pretty much a Slenderman clone. The problem is that some of these are downright broken and unplayable. One minigame even forced me to exit and relaunch the game.

Last but not least, Troublemaker Raise Your Gang features horrible English translations/localizations. They get the message across well enough, but they often don’t make much sense, and there are Indonesian words sprinkled in from time to time. As a Malaysian, I could get the gist of what these translations mean but those not from Indonesia or Malaysia will probably find the English translations/localizations confusing, with grammatical mistakes and sentences that just sound unnatural when spoken aloud. Fair warning, there’s also strangely a ton of profanity. Almost every sentence has some kind of swear word in them, which is weird. I know high school kids sometimes cuss a lot but this is too much, almost Scarface-levels of comical.

Wasted Potential

Ultimately, while I’m sure the folks at Gamecom Team poured a lot of hard work into Troublemaker Raise Your Gang, it just isn’t a good game to actually play. It could have been a good game if the developers spent more time on making the core combat better and improving it, instead of focusing on whatever else they put resources into.

PROS

  • Unique and authentic Indonesian school setting and language.
  • Nice local art style.

CONS

  • Janky and unsatisfying combat.
  • No grappling moves in a 3D brawler.
  • Forced stealth section.
  • Upgrades don’t feel significant.
  • Bad English translations/localizations.

FINAL SCORE: 40/100

Troublemaker Raise Your Gang was reviewed on PC based on a review copy provided by the publisher. It is slated to launch for PC on 31 March 2023.

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Comment(2)

  1. Bringing Troublemaker’s Budi To Life: An Interview With Abel Valentino | KAKUCHOPUREI.COM

    April 18, 2023 at 5:01 pm

    […] Troublemaker is one of the hottest games coming out of Indonesia right now, following new kid Budi, and his fight to the top of the high school food chain. The game has a distinct spirit of nostalgia, and has a fun setting and characters. You can find our review of the game here. […]

  2. 3D Beat Em Up Troublemaker 2: Beyond Dream Announced For PC | Kakuchopurei

    October 13, 2023 at 3:27 pm

    […] check out our Troublemaker: Raise Your Gang review or our interview with Budi’s voice actor, Abel […]

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