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Fantasy Strike Review: Fighting 101

/ Sep 19th, 2019 No Comments

We all remember as kids playing fighting games. The thrill of throwing hadoukens in Street Fighter or performing a fatality in Mortal Kombat. Regardless if we knew the underlying mechanics or frame data, we had a blast playing fighting games. Somewhere along the way that joy has been lost from fighting games. 

Whether it is because they’ve become too complicated or too niche and insular is hard to say, but the genre has been trying to lure new and lapsed fans for a while. Many popular franchises have done their damnedest to introduce new levels of accessibility to help ease in new fans.

Fantasy Strike takes the idea of fighting game accessibility to a whole new level. 

Not only are the mechanics and controls easy to pick up, but it provides plenty of tutorials to understand the underlying principles of different character types. The accessibility doesn’t come at the cost of complexity because it offers plenty of depth for veteran fighting game players. There is plenty to like for newbies and vets alike.

New Throwback

Fantasy Strike feels like a throwback in many respects. Not only does it encourage curiosity like older fighting games, but it has a wonderfully colorful roster that plays upon character archetypes in a fun way. 

The arcade style story mode is a treat. It gives players some background on each character and how they relate to Rook’s tournament. Each story has a fun intro and conclusion where you get to learn more about each character’s personality. Additionally, it is a good opportunity to learn more about the playstyle of each character and which one works for you.

Fantasy Strike Review
Every character has their own little narrative in arcade/story mode that gives you more insight into their personality.

After sharpening your skills in single-player, you can head online to play in casual or ranked play. While we played before launch, we found it easy to get matched with players of similar skill. Like other modern fighting games, Fantasy Strike makes matches in the background as you play other modes, which is a nice touch to ensure you’re always doing something.

The only drawback to online, at least pre-launch, is the online account creator for Switch. An online account is required, but creating an account can be a headache. The email gather field only allows for 16 characters including @ address, which if you have even a minorly complicated email can result in a lot of headaches. Hopefully this will be fixed post-launch

The Basics

Fantasy Strike pits players against one another or the computer in matches where the first to win 4 rounds claims victory. While that may seem like a lot of rounds, especially if it is a close matchup, it never feels too long. Matches move quickly. This is aided by a simplified health system and the game’s controls and movesets. The breakneck pace gives each round an electric feel as each fighter jockeys for dominance.

What does a streamlined moveset mean? Traditionally in fighting games, each fighter has an expansive moveset that requires a lot of memorization. Those movesets also features moves as easy as an uppercut to as complex as raging demon with a lot of variance in between. It requires a lot of dedication and practice to learn it all, but even more to apply that knowledge to different scenarios. 

This results in a huge barrier to entry for many would be fighting game players. We all remember those times we played Street Fighter or Tekken with friends and there was one person who wrecked everyone because they played it for 100 hours and knew every move down to a T. It takes a bit of the fun out of playing with such a vast inequality.

Fantasy Strike Review
Fantasy Strike’s streamlined moveset and simplified health system means you’re able to enjoy fast paced, dynamic battles.

The streamlined moveset in Fantasy Strike means it becomes much easier for anyone to pick up the game and have a competitive match. Fantasy Strike boils down the traditional fighting game moveset to normal attack, blocking, two different special attacks, throws and supers. 

To help ease down on complicated inputs, there is no running, dashing or crouching. As a result move variations occur with only a few simple direction inputs or jumping. Utilizing the variations on normal attacks means you can before moves like spinning leg sweeps and dive kicks to help keep your opponents guessing.

While it may seem like the streamlined nature of moves means things are dumbed down, that isn’t the case. There is still plenty of complexity, but it comes from the options you have at any given moment and the strategy you use. 

Fantasy Strike Review
Combat is all about decisions. The strategic element to Fantasy Strike becomes about recognizing what’s happening then reacting to it.

Are you utilizing your moves well and recognizing opportunities to use your character’s unique abilities to counter or get the advantage of your opponent? When an opponent tries to throw you are reacting fast enough to use the yomi counter or jump out of special throws?

Further deepening the strategic element of Fantasy Strike is the color coded nature of moves and readability. When a character flashes white they have temporary invulnerability, while other moves have different levels of advantage or disadvantage. A blue aura confers some armor for the move, while a green aura means the move is a parry. 

If you flash purple then you’ve been poisoned or if the aura is red than you’ve been counter hit. All moves have color coded readability letting you know recovery time for each and who gains the advantage from each move.

Even with the color coded auras and readability, things are still easily digestible thanks to the streamlined moveset. Every move has multiple uses in different situations meaning you’ll know whether or not you can be successful before you attempt a move. All aspects of combat are meant to keep you in the moment and make smart decisions.

Fantasy Strike Review
Along with a solid tutorial, the character tutorial videos gives you a deeper insight into the game and its mechanics.

Fantasy Strike more so than other fighting games rewards smart move usage and an elegant amount of button inputs. It isn’t about mashing buttons to be successful. Rather, the game’s accessibility comes from wanting to teach everyone the finer points of fighting games. 

There is a great tutorial and videos for each character. The tutorial gives a good low down on the basics, while each character video provide insight into their moves and fighter type. Learning more about fighter types allows you to make smart choices when completing the games many single-player modes or taking the fight online. 

Utilizing both videos and tutorials helps you deepen your understanding of surface and high level play and the underlying mechanics. It is a good idea to study up to apply that knowledge in practice.

Overall

Fantasy Strike aims for accessibility as a fighting game and it hits the mark. However, that doesn’t mean it easy to win or lacks complexity. It becomes a matter of strategy in a lot of instances with decisions having to be made at a breakneck speed due to the game’s frenetic pace. 

By striping down the heavy input moves and memorization, every button press becomes more crucial. If you’re mashing buttons then you may not fare too well, but the game offers plenty of tutorials to help you become a real killer. 

Fantasy Strike was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer.

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs

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FANTASY STRIKE REVIEW: FIGHTING 101

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall86%

GAMEPLAY9

Fantasy Strike achieves what it set out to do, which is create a fighting game that is both accessible for newbies and deep enough for veterans.

GRAPHICS8.5

Fantasy Strike's roster is colorful and bursting with personality.

SOUND8.5

The music and sound effects are great, and the voice over adds another layer of personality to the characters.

REPLAYABILITY8.5

Fantasy Strike has a good amount of single-player modes with daily challenges offering a lot of replayability. Add in the game's solid online and you have plenty of reasons to come back.