Pillow Pig Games
Reviewed on: Mac
Also on: Windows
If you’re looking for a fighting game to play with friends, odds are your first choice won’t be something from the indie circuit. The amount of tweaking needed to balance a roster of unique characters is something that takes dedication, so I was surprised to find that dedication outside of Street Fighter or Super Smash Bros. in the form of Fighties—a small title developed by a team of two people—for $5.00 on Steam. At first, I was skeptical since Steam seems inundated by subpar titles trying to cash in on cloud gaming. My hesitation faded over the course of several hours of play, and I can say that Fighties is worth its price.
Core gameplay is simple. You pick your fighter from a roster of around 30 (as of writing this, I’ve unlocked about two thirds of the available characters). Move sets consist of a regular attack and a special attack, with a few limited options for movement as well. At first glance, such a simplistic setup doesn’t give the impression of a strategic combat system, but each character feels unique and enjoyable to play. With only two attacks to work with, it falls to the player to learn how best to use the skillsets of each fighter.
None of the characters are named, which allows for a surprising amount of investment in each of them. Without pre-established names or personalities for the fighters, I found myself filling in the gaps, giving each member of the roster names that I associated with either their appearance or their combat skills. My favorite member of the Fighties roster, who will henceforth be known as Presea since her appearance reminded me of the Tales of Symphonia character of the same name, has a neat little ability that lets her create zones of slowed movement, effectively rendering enemy attacks and projectiles useless, but making it so that you’d want to keep her in a tight area of the stage to make the best of her short range melee attacks. Another fighter summons swarms of bees that home in on enemies after a delay, but doesn’t have any melee attacks to speak of, making him most useful when constantly on the run, baiting enemies into the bee swarms. A handful of game modes allow for experimentation with each fighter, letting you find which ones you like best.
Fighties’ arcade mode is what you’d expect from a fighting game, pitting you against a set number of AI opponents before a boss fight. In true fighting game tradition, bosses will test your limits and force you to memorize their attack patterns in drawn-out fights that stand in contrast to the fast-paced matches of the rest of the game. For all of the good content the game provides in terms of its character variety and difficulty, there are a number of issues that pulled me from the experience. Characters are well-balanced to such a degree that when I encountered the handful that were either over or underpowered, it was jarring. The melee fighters can instantly kill foes when they get in range, but projectile damage from ranged fighters runs the whole gamut of “damaging as a light breeze” to “complete and utter overkill.” I’m looking at you, you stupid clone-creating, instant-kill card-throwing, clown-makeup piece of garbage.
The items in battle are mostly stat boosts with no discernible effect on combat. The small number of powerups that do affect the tide of the battle are so rare that they almost feel like cheating. Music is only present in the form of uninteresting MIDI tracks, and sound glitches pop up on occasion that give your ears a one-way ticket to scratchy synthesized error noise hell. Unlocking the various modes is based on how many characters you’ve unlocked, but there’s no way to unlock more than two without playing an inane crane minigame riddled with filler items that serve no purpose but to frustrate you.
For all of its issues and roughness, Fighties is still a good title to check out if you have the time. When I think indie fighting game, now there’s something else besides Skullgirls that I can pull up from my mind.