Fighting games have surely made a major resurgence near this end of this console generation, with the reboot of Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and many others - but what about handheld gaming devices? More specifically, what about mobile devices? Circean Studios, a small Kansas City-based development team, was at this year's ScrewAttack Game Convention to show off their debut game, Konsui Fighter. The game is set to release early Fall 2013 for Android devices, with iOS and Windows-based mobile devices at a later point. At SGC I not only got the chance to play the game for a while and try different things out, but I also got to sit down with Shayne Helms, Lead Director, and Logan Jensen, Head of PR & Marketing (full interview uploaded at bottom of post).
For the past three years they've been hard at work on a game that, they feel, is filling a major gap in the industry. When was the last time you heard about a good, solid, fighting game on Android? If your answer is anything other than, "Never, because it doesn't exist," then you're a liar. I challenge you to point me to a fighting game built for mobile devices, from the ground up, that offers a robust and complete experience that can be enjoyed in both short and long stretches of time - Konsui Fighter aims to be that very game. "We wanted to bring a console quality experience to mobile," said Shayne. "We really have been pushing with our art, gameplay and soundtrack to create something that people are going to remember as a very unique experience on a mobile device."
In order to accommodate the limitations of the mobile touch-based interface, they have had to take certain liberties with the control scheme. Instead of a complicated circle pad on the screen, or imprecise directional-arrows, it's simply left and right movement buttons, then a punch and a kick button. However, it doesn't just stop there. By touching the top half of the screen, your character will jump. Each character (only two of the planned ten were playable at SGC) will have their own fighting style as well as their own specials and combos.
For example, Isamu is a character I used in the demo. He wields a sword and utilizes primarily sword-based attacks, naturally. I was able to do various different attacks with combinations of pressing the directional buttons while swiping down to hit punch, or kick. Both characters had around 5 or 6 specials, which made combat feel satisfying and deep - especially for a phone game. Hitan, a female melee-based character I got the chance to try, uses lots of different types of kicking attacks. As most gamers are used to a traditional gamepad or arcade-stick setup for fighting games, it takes some getting used to before you can really pull off the special attacks and/or chain them together.
I wasn't able to truly put the game through its paces in the small time I spent with it at SGC, but what I did see left a very positive impression. Circean is planning to have a normal arcade mode that allows you to fight through a series of NPC opponents, just like basically every fighting game ever. However, they are also creating a fully-fledged story mode that weaves all of the characters and their stories together, a la Mortal Kombat 9's impressive story mode. At launch there will also be a local versus mode powered via bluetooth technology. There will not be an online network multiplayer mode at launch, as they want to spend time perfecting that after launch.
Finally, Jas Carpenter is the lead artist on the team and his work is what initially drew me to their booth in the first place. It really looks unlike any fighting game (read: on any platform, not just mobile and handheld) and I think that alone deserves recognition. The beautiful watercolor fused with anime-style visuals really do look like paintings in motion and one of the levels in particular looked like a moving and breathing oil painting. Part of this is because they are all hand-drawn and then digitally animated into the game 0 this is impressive stuff at work here. Screenshots and assets online don't really do it justice, as the game looks much better in-person. Logan echoed this sentiment, proclaiming that, "It's incredibly unique and I've never seen anything like it from a game in any genre - fighting, RPG, anything."
Overall, I came away very impressed. Konsui Fighter is shaping up to be one of the best games available on Android devices and that says a lot. With a unique art style unlike anything out there, a innovative interface and ambitious design principles, Konsui Fighter is the first of its kind. Keep an eye out for it on Android later this year, releasing for about $3.99 at launch, later rising to $4.99 as the base price. More features and updates will appear after launch as well, in addition to iOS and Windows versions. Stay up to date at the game's website and Facebook here!
Let us know your thoughts on the game down in the comments below, is this a game you feel the industry is lacking? For some more insight, listen to my full 13+ minute interview with the Lead Designer and PR Director right down below! It was conducted at the convention floor in a sort-of busy area (there was no press room to be found) but you can still hear everything well.