The Accessible Fighter - Fantasy Strike (REVIEW)
written by Albert Tran (@GoonPNW)
When it comes to fighting games, one of the most historic genres that has persevered through the ages. A genre that pioneered some of the humble beginnings of Esports. What is one common topic that so many people bring up when they hear about it?
“Fighting games are hard.”
“Button executions are too complicated”
“I can’t possibly do all of those combos”
It is universally spoken that when people talk about fighting games, the difficulty curve is often spoken along with it. If you turn on a game like Tekken 7 you will see the game literally has no tutorials. They don’t teach you the meaning behind certain symbols when you go through training mode. They just expect you to know as a lot of people who purchase Tekken has had experience with the previous games. But what about beginners? You want to play a fighting game and learn it but when it comes to picking a fighting game to start there really isn’t any game that has taught you the basics and fundamentals of how to play one, while keeping the mechanics and the gameplay very simple. It’s almost been unheard of.
Sirlin games ambitious vision of creating a fighting game that serves as an easily accessible, fun, and interactive fighting game has produced “Fantasy Strike” a fighting game that was designed with new players to fighting games in mind. The controls are ridiculously easy to understand without compromising the strategy and gameplay to a point where its TOO easy.
Fantasy Strike has eliminated a lot of things that people think of when it comes to difficulty in fighting games. Special button executions, such as the quarter-circle motion on your controller, along with half circle and full circle motions don’t exist. The entire game can be played with just 3 buttons. A normal attack button, and 2 special buttons. The complexity of executing cool super moves are simplified by just pushing your attack and special button together.
One of the key components to standard fighting games is having to learn how to block appropriately, in a standard fighting you have to block either high or low, depending on how your opponent attacks, and theres additional things to watch out for, such as overhead attacks which can overcome a low block, or learning when to reverse and get out of a grab. These things can be very daunting for new players. Fantasy Strike’s aggressively accessible gameplay has it to where you only have block one way, and that is standing. There is no crouch blocking in this game. This gives new players the fundamentals of learning when they need to block and when they can attack a lot faster. Jumping in this game is also attached to a button and it is not a movement you need to execute on your controller which can be really great for players that have come from platform games.
With 10 characters total in Fantasy Strike; most of the characters entire move lists can fit on just one page, so you don’t have to spend so much time learning each and every one of a characters moves (if you looked at a move list from any Tekken game you will see why I make such an emphasis on this). Along with this, every character in the game is categorized into archetypes:
Zoner: Which is your traditional character that is well rounded and has a good move set that can keep an opponent away or engage in close range combat just as well.
Rushdown: Characters built specifically to stay in your opponent’s face and keep aggressive pressure.
Grapplers: Characters designed to incite fear into your opponents if they get too close to you. They have special moves called “command grabs” that cannot be reversed if you get caught in it.
Wildcards: These characters have unique traits that none of the other archetypes have that give them a wildly different gameplan than any of the other 3 types listed.
Each character is widely different from the other. No character feels homogenous and they all have their own playstyle regardless if they are in the same archetype. The matches are very short, so each set has 4 rounds a player has to win (instead of the traditional 2 rounds). The games can get incredibly hectic real quick. The progression of the game feels very natural to those who are familiar with fighting games. Even the most seasoned vets of fighting games would get a kick out of playing Fantasy Strike.
The story to Fantasy Strike is very minimal. If you played any other fighting game in the past this won’t come as a surprise to you. Every character has their own solo story that has an intro to their purpose and an ending scene once you clear the story mode for them. This is a game you don’t exactly play for the story but it does give some insight to the character you’re currently playing and a little bit about their personality.
The soundtrack and visuals to the game are actually impressive for a fighting game title. The background music to the game is very enjoyable and each characters theme is fit to who they are as a person, you get a more traditional Asian themed sound if you play Lum, a literal panda who loves gambling, and a heroic fast paced rock song when you pick Jaina, an archer who uses the fire of a phoenix. Every character design is over the top and almost comic book feeling. Touching up on characters that spawn several different regions, timelines, and lore.
If you are not new to fighting games and have been hardened by the complexity of games like Guilty Gear, Street Fighter, Blazblue, or Tekken, you will find Fantasy Strike to be a walk in the park. As a matter of fact, almost too easy. This game may not draw in those who are used to traditional fighting games and that is okay. Fantasy Strike was created as a way to close the gap between an aspiring beginner wanting to learn the fundamentals of a fighting game without being too overwhelmed in the beginning to graduating to that level of play most people in the fighting game community (FGC) are very familiar with.
But for those same said veterans of the FGC. When you now enter a conversation with someone unfamiliar with fighting games, claiming the genre is too difficult to understand and not user friendly enough. You now have a solid rebuttal to one of the oldest topics in fighting game history.
“Have you played Fantasy Strike?”
3 out of 5
Great for newcomers, but outpaced by contemporaries