There’s going out on a limb and then there’s blind faith, and while the Bud & Terence games fall into the latter of the two, they are at least a labour of love. If you don’t know — and there’s a good chance you don’t — Bud Spencer and Terence Hill were a movie duo popularised in the '60s and '70s for their slapstick adventures and at-odds physical profiles. Born in Italy as Mario Girotti and Carlo Pedersoli, they started out in gag-laden spaghetti westerns before changing their names for the Western market, dubbed over successfully enough to build up a large fan following.
They’re an odd fit for a modern video game, not least because a large proportion of the market will have no knowledge of their work. At the same time, Trinity Team’s beat 'em up is imbued with such a fantastic sense of spirit, fun, and adventure, that even the uninitiated will find it endearing.
Heavy-set Bud and rakish Terence pick up the story where they left off in the previous game, arriving in Africa and trying to find their way home. True to their movies, chaos ensues and they end up blown off course, fighting the good fight from the rural countryside to the big city. As before, it's playable in two-player co-op or in a single-player mode where both heroes can be switched between, AI taking control of the unattended.
What works really well in Slaps & Beans 2 are the little action puzzle parts, where you need to switch between Bud and Terence to utilise agility or strength to overcome obstacles in a Mario & Luigi fashion. For example, Terence can climb and swing on bars, while Bud can smash tougher objects. You regularly need to figure out how to grant both characters access to out-of-reach areas, switching between them to create a path. Additionally, there are a lot of fun minigames thrown in that not only break up the action, but are fully accessible from the title screen in an arcade-like format.
Graphically, it’s beautifully drawn, impressively detailed, and movie-set sunny, the camera often panning out to reveal giant battle arenas littered with interactive objects. Sadly, though, the meat of the game is its combat, the one aspect that remains uninspired. It may be improved from the original, with comedy actions that include swinging enemies as weapons, counter-blocking, team-up attacks, and various scenery utilisations, but the execution is ropey, lacking range, and less than satisfying. It’s far too easy on defaults, the challenge only increasing toward the end of a very lengthy campaign, and the actual fighting requiring little more than slapping a button on repeat. If one character is taking a beating, you can just switch out and the AI will send the other off to grab whatever health-replenishing foodstuffs are dotted about the screen. Creative moments like getting lions to follow meat slabs are fun and in keeping with the duo's antics, but there’s a certain fiddliness involved in pulling any of it off with panache.
This genre's lineup on Switch has changed a lot since the original in 2018, and this feels primitive. Slaps & Beans 2 offers a long, adventurous campaign with a lot to see and do, and will remain a treat for dedicated fans of the duo. But, the combat, overshadowed by its novelty interludes, should be more fulfilling and less repetitive.