Fast and fabulous, Ra Ra Boom is a spiffy take on the traditional beat-'em-up that features an all-female cast of ninja cheerleaders who have plenty of spunk and attitude to spare. Showing off a hands-off demo of the game at GDC 2023, developer Gylee Games hopes to shake up the genre by incorporating a meaningful narrative, lane-based combat, and a wide array of ranged attacks. Somewhere between Juliet Starling in Lollipop Chainsaw and the Crystal Gems from Steven Universe, the group of badass women in Ra Ra Boom seek to save the world with their formidable weapons, stylish techniques, and multi-hit combos.
Boom goes the robot apocalypse
The plot of Ra Ra Boom is apocalyptic but interestingly logical. An AI created to combat climate change has come to the conclusion that humans are the problem. And you know what? Fair. The AI soon takes control over a robot army that decimates everything in its wake, something that four energetic girls in space — Ren, Vee, Saida, and Aris — seek to stop any way they can. After training in virtual reality for a quick tutorial, they escape from their ship after it is raided by a giant robot and head towards Earth where they hope to take out the the rogue AI for good.
From what we could tell in the roughly 20-minute hands-off demo of the game through a pre-alpha build, all of the characters are fully voiced while the cutscenes are currently animatics. Developer Gylee Games, namely game developer Chris Bergman and senior producer Kim Edwards, hopes to flesh out these scenes as much as possible before the game’s full release, since the story will play more of a role here than in most beat-’em-ups.
A trip down several lanes
For combat, Ra Ra Boom introduces an innovative layout for the field, separating the side-scrolling path into distinct lanes. This might seem somewhat strange if you’re used to Streets of Rage 4 or TMNT beat-’em-ups, but sometimes those games make it difficult for players to perceive depth. Hitting an enemy above or below you on the screen can be tough, and evading projectiles can be awkward unless they have some sort of shadow on the ground (and even then it can be a crapshoot). Moving between lanes instead makes it easier to dodge ranged attacks and to make sure you don’t whiff as often. The added clarity is welcome.
Each hero has a solid set of techniques to start with light and heavy attacks, melee combos, a double dash, and a special meter that builds as you continue to string strikes together. Each hero has her own strengths as well, with Saida wielding a rocket launcher and Ren throwing ninja stars from afar. Vee has a shield that can deflect attacks while Aris has a scythe and uzis with a suitably high fire rate. By picking up scrap pick-ups from enemies, each hero can upgrade their abilities with a light skill tree split between melee, ranged, and mobility. Some examples are rockets that can freeze robots upon impact and the ability to air dash.
Ra Ra Ooh La La
Gylee Games still has plenty in store to finish Ra Ra Boom, which will run somewhere between four and six hours across ten levels in the main story. The developer has teased New Game Plus as a feature as well, along with more content they have yet to announce. The game is slated to release in Fall 2023 for PC via Steam and consoles, though the developer is unsure which platforms those will be at the moment.
This preview is based on a hands-off demo on a PC build with gamepad controls.