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Six Fighting Games That I’ve Played So Far This Year

After recently adding three fighting style games to my Nintendo Switch collection, I thought I’d take the opportunity to give a synopsis of every fighting game that I’ve played this year. There’s six in all, and you’ll notice Arc System Works and Bandai Namco have their fingerprints all over this article. All but one of these games are available on all consoles, and I played these all on my Switch. I’ll tell you a little about what I did and didn’t like for each game.

BlazBlue: Central Fiction Special Edition

Developed by Arc System Works

Published by Aksys Games

Available now for Switch, PS3, PS4, and Windows

After only a brief introduction to the series through Calamity Trigger on PC, I decided to take the dive and get Central Fiction while it was on sale for the Nintendo Switch back in August. I heard that the story for the series is very complex, so I spent a night watching videos on YouTube that try to explain it. A YouTuber named TheMonarchofDragons has a very good mini-series if you want to check it out. I will say though that while it seemed fascinating, there’s still way too much to digest and I can’t really say I’m committed to learning it all.

It’s challenging as is to try learning the unique mechanics of each individual fighter in this game, which is part of what makes the BlazBlue franchise so endearing. It’s a great fighting game that you can pick up and play with friends, but it’ll take a lot of time and practice to master. Thankfully this has a very comprehensive tutorial mode. I’m in the very early stages of playing it, but I love how smooth it looks. Perhaps I’ll never get to appreciate the backstories of every character, but I can see myself falling in love with everything else this game has to offer. I imagine it will still take a lot for this game to supplant the next one I’m mentioning for my favorite fighter.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Developed by Arc System Works

Published by Bandai Namco Entertainment

Available now for Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Windows

The Dragon Ball anime series is my favorite of all-time, but up until now, I hadn’t found a fighting game for it that I was satisfied with. Wasn’t a fan of Budokai when I got it for PlayStation 2, and there weren’t any other fighters that stood out to me. Dragon Ball FighterZ was probably the first game on the Switch that I ended up playing extensively. There was a definite learning curve for me, as I’d never been a fan of the tag subgenre of fighting games, dating all the way back to my struggles with the Marvel vs. Capcom arcade games. I also didn’t like that there weren’t multiple rounds like in traditional fighting games. But I quickly got over that thanks to the fast-paced action and awesome visuals.

It really does look like you’re playing the Dragon Ball anime itself thanks to the cel-shading done by the developers. Between the base roster and further unlockables through gameplay and DLC, there are currently 41 fighters to choose from with two more expected to come in the current FighterZ Pass 3. I played it a bunch with a friend of mine and it really brought back memories of my Street Fighter II days. Earlier this year at PAX East, I finished in 2nd place at a Switch tournament for the game, which no one will confuse for EVO but was still a highlight of the convention for me that I’ll never forget. I enjoy this one a lot whether playing solo or with friends. Easily my favorite 2D fighter on the Switch.

Jump Force: Deluxe Edition

Developed by Spike Chunsoft

Published by Bandai Namco Entertainment

Available now for Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Windows

Jump Force made its Nintendo Switch debut at the end of August this year after first being released on other platforms early last year. I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to write here because I had mixed expectations about this game. On the one hand, I was excited about the Jump Force concept when I first heard about it years ago. I’m a huge anime nerd, and a crossover fighting game that combines many of my favorite anime characters sounded like a dream come true. On the other hand, I had a slight sense of trepidation as I’ve never been fond of arena-style fighting games. I hoped that, much like the aforementioned tag fighter Dragon Ball FighterZ, I could be won over. It hasn’t happened so far.

Let me get into what I liked about it first. This game runs smoothly and is a solid port to the Switch. It has a deep roster featuring 57 characters from 16 different Shonen Jump series (such as Dragon Ball, Naruto, One Piece, Hunter x Hunter, and more), and that’s not counting your own character that you create at the beginning of the game. You can customize that character’s appearance and fighting style to your choosing, and you can add more abilities and accessories as you progress.

As for what I wasn’t feeling, I didn’t enjoy the button-mashing mechanics of the game. It felt tedious before long. The beginning of the game was a little disorienting as well. That opening cutscene had a Claymation-like frame rate, which was so bad that I had to go on YouTube to confirm that it wasn’t just happening to my Switch. The presentation made me feel like I was playing a superhero game and not an anime fighting game, which was perhaps by design. My initial impression is that this is an acquired taste, as I’m more into 2D style fighting games, and it hasn’t gripped me yet. Even with simplified controls, I suck at the game so take whatever I say here with a grain of salt. Maybe with time, I’ll appreciate it more. There’s still plenty to like if you’re into the arena fighting style of games and have always wanted to know who would win a battle between Cell and Meruem (who is expected to be available via DLC in early 2021).

This review was written based on a digital review copy of Jump Force: Deluxe Edition for the Nintendo Switch provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment.

River City Girls

Developed by WayForward

Published by WayForward and Arc System Works

Available now on Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Windows

All right, I think I finally got the hang of River City Girls. The last time that I talked about this game, I lamented how bad I was despite how fun the game was to play. My problem was I neglected the item shops. You can get boosts in stamina, agility, specials, and you can even get new moves in the dojo. Personally, I found most of the items to be worthless unless they replenished your stamina or added a permanent boost to your stats. Spending $200 of in-game currency for an item that reduces damage inflicted toward you by 5% seems hardly worth it. I did a lot better in progressing in the game after understanding these nuances.

I finally managed to beat the game, which unlocked Kunio and Riki as bonus playable characters. Kyoko and Misako are two badass girls with plenty of attitude. I liked the pixelated style and the enemies kind of reminded me of those that I’ve seen in the Simpsons arcade. I also enjoyed all the Double Dragon cameos. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but there are some hidden weapons in the game that are downright hilarious to me. Add in the stellar soundtrack with vocals by Megan McDuffee and this has been my favorite beat ‘em up on the Switch so far. Earlier this year, another River City Girls game was announced to be in the works. I’m a huge fan of WayForward’s games, as they have a great track record, so I’m really looking forward to what this supposed prequel has to offer. In the meantime, I hope I’ll get a chance to play this game with a friend, as I’ve already enjoyed it playing solo.

This review was written based on a digital review copy of River City Girls for the Nintendo Switch provided by WayForward.

Streets of Rage 4

Developed by Dotemu, Lizardcube, and Guard Crush Games

Published by Dotemu

Available now on Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Windows

Another fun beat ‘em up. Streets of Rage 4 was one of the games I featured in my PAX East editorial earlier this year and I recently bought the physical version for Switch. There’s a lot of familiarity with the Genesis version of the series, from the characters to the gameplay to the items, but this game obviously has a modern aesthetic. It’s almost like you’re playing in a comic book. The original Streets of Rage soundtrack is a classic and can be selected as the music for this game. I’m stuck on the final level and probably going to have to wait until I can play with a second person before I hope to beat the game.

If you want to read more about Streets of Rage 4, check out this excellent review by our own Adam Vale. I highly recommend this game if you’re a fan of the Streets of Rage series or even if you just want a cool beat ‘em up. I don’t like that you can’t run in the game unless you have a particular character, and I got real sick, real quickly of the enemies doing their little “charge up and speed walk to you” routine. Between beat ’em ups, I thought River City Girls did more for me in terms of charm as that game had plenty of humor which adds to the fun. Streets of Rage 4 is a no-nonsense, get down to business kind of action game, and that’s cool too.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Developed by Bandai Namco Studios and Sora Ltd.

Published by Nintendo

Available only for Switch

In my humble opinion, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the greatest entry to one of the most beloved fighting franchises in gaming history. I’m kind of cheating by listing this one since I’ve only played it a few times this year, mostly while at PAX. This was one of the first fighting games I bought, along with Dragon Ball FighterZ. There’s not much for me to dislike, though this one is always more fun when playing with others. Some of my most cherished gaming memories were made playing this game with friends and really sold the Switch as a great investment on my part.

Thankfully it’s simple enough to play even with novice players, but as with any fighter, there are levels of skill to it.  It’s not just about the fighter you choose but also knowing how to use the stage to your advantage. Also, have to say that I absolutely love the music, not just all the music from the characters themselves but the game’s original work as well. It’s epic. This game is a must-have for any Switch owner. I haven’t played enough to bother purchasing the latest season of the Fighter Pass but I’m open to persuasion should a particular character happen to occupy one of those final four slots. We’ll see what happens.

Thanks, everyone for reading and happy gaming!

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