Agoners just got our hands on the very first build of the new simple Fantasy Strike Fighting Game thanks to being a Patreon of Sirlin currently.
Don’t know what the FSFG is?… Check out our Agonisers #1 podcast and links on that for all the background info about this game.
We played it local 1v1 battles and it’s really fun already! We started playing, and hours went past without me realising how late it had got. That’s a pretty great sign to me. Comments & thoughts:
1. Fighting game skills really shine already. I was playing against my much less experienced friend Navan Daughn, and I was immediately winning the majority of matches due to the fact I had an edge with blocking, zoning, meter management, spacing, timing, combos, yomi etc. from my experience at other fighting games. But the important thing Navan liked was that he could already actually do all the moves! Navan commented when he was getting frustrated it was more with himself, rather than feeling like he was losing because he couldn’t get out a dragon punch or an Ultra or whatever which he feels a lot when he tries to play SF4 for example.
2. Menus, options and button config etc are already functionally better than some commercial games. That’s a bit of a sad indictment of some other games though… This already has great music (I wasn’t expecting that!), and I was running on Windows 7 and got it working on keyboard and then with 2 joysticks (Hori HRAP and Madcatz TE, both X360 versions) without any problems whatsoever. Also got it running fullscreen without any problems on two different screens (monitor and attached TV), also ran fine through Steam big-screen mode (I was running it through a non-steam game shortcut so my friends list could see what I was up to :P). Mapping up/down seemed odd at first when it isn’t an in-game input, but then I realised it was for navigating the menus (which also worked perfectly with sticks once they had been configured).
3. Jumping on a button seemed very odd at first but I thought I’d try that anyway since that’s how it’s been designed. After a few matches it felt totally fine and I didn’t even try mapping up to up on my stick yet. I think the initial oddness is this – normally in “press button to jump” games like platformers, your left/right input will then still affect your jump arc to an extent after the button press, whereas here it doesn’t, so it feels more like flinging yourself into the air Street Fighter style so that’s why I think “up to jump” would also feel fine. By the way, I much prefer SF style jumps to most platformer style jumps in videogames in general. It’s actually one of my pet hates in a platformer if you can control your jump arc too much, it feels more like a float/flying than jumping then. Oh hello Super Meat Boy, yes I am talking about you – that’s why I could never get into that game.
4. One thing that does feel odd, because of the way attacks in the air work like a dive-kick, the game does not let you input an attack immediately after jumping. This is a good thing as otherwise small “hop” style attacks would probably be strictly better than standing normal attacks – or even walking some of the time! But it does feel weird to not be able to attack immediately in the air as you get a “input not registered” kind of feeling. Maybe a move/animation could be added for if you attack during the first part of your jump ‘attack on the way up’ that wouldn’t do the divekick. I can’t recall exactly but I think special on the way up is allowed? Obviously need to be careful here that a great anti-air isn’t created by a jump-attack on the way up style of move though.
Sirlin’s answer was that this is intentional, or the divekick move would indeed be broken. But he doesn’t want to add another ‘first few frames of a jump’ move. Perhaps pressing or holding down the attack after a jump button could make the divekick come out at the earliest possible point but this could also feel weird to do. Anyone have any alternative ideas?
5. Another “input not registered” type of feeling is Grave B’s neutral attack (the ‘small uppercut’). If you walk forward or back and then release the stick to neutral and press attack, it won’t immediately register the uppercut move. You need to actually have stood still in neutral for quite a few frames to do it. The best way if you want to get this move out after walking seems to be to ‘double tap’ your attack button. Again I am pretty sure this is a good feature as otherwise the uppercut could be too useful as an anti-air if you could move and then do it immediately, but it does feel very strange. Not sure what the best ‘solution’ might be here.
Sirlin’s answer was that this is just a bug.
6. Supers seem really good and fun already. Even the bug where the air-parry super (could the move be called Knowing the Opponent perhaps 😛 ?) can trade hits didn’t matter as it still felt good and useful as you trade 2 hits vs 1. Fully landing the Dragonheart super seemed really satisfying. I love the way it was 2 hits if you fully landed it from the ground but only 1 hit using it as a much safer anti-air. It really felt like there was a lot of interesting play and decisions with just these two supers in this simple game, it’s amazing and WAY more interesting than almost all other fighting games these days when most supers just feel like combo pieces (as mentioned in our recent podcast).
7. The game’s feel is already incredibly good and solid! Maybe a tad more “oomph” to hits is needed in some way, as sometimes it felt a little unclear who’d been hit… but knockdowns, wakeups, throws, counter hits, punishes, combo system, proximity blocking, cross-ups, meaties, throwing, throwing someone else out of an attack, super-through-special etc all felt so good already, I was really pleasantly surprised. The game it most reminded me of feel wise was an XBox Live Indie Game called Avatar Fighter (which was actually pretty fun until we completely broke it’s custom special and combo system). I love the way getting big multi-hit combos was all about positioning and timing your jump in attack perfectly; it felt like SF2.
8. Navan thought it was a shame it wasn’t 2d art. Just because he’d thought it was going to be and the Fantasy Strike characters and universe already has a lot of lovely fighting-game-esque 2d art. I presume that 3d is just much easier cost / updates wise though.
9. Yomi Counters are definitely bugged in some way. In 1v1 we tested it and a lot of the time they just didn’t work at all. Couldn’t completely identify what was going wrong though: When we first started playing, it seemed ok, but then no Yomi counters seemed to work at all after we’d been playing for a while. Then rebooted the game and then player 1 with Grave A seemed to be able to yomi counter but 2P could not with any Grave selected. It might be a joystick button/calibration issue. In training mode as someone else has said, the dummy will yomi-counter every throw attempt too.
10. Grave (all versions) seems very interesting to play as his specials: Lightning Cloud and air Whirlwind kick, give a huge amount of gameplay options and variety. The Lightning Cloud fireball move enables a whole zoning game of course and is a great poke/meaty, and has a great risk/reward as it’s speed and recovery are setup just right (again, feels a lot like SF2). Grave also has a massive amount of air movement and attack options possible with all the different air moves of attack at various jump points, special at various jump points and even the air super can be used to sort of cancel a jump or avoid a fireball as mentioned. His air special Whirlwind kick feels incredibly like SF2-HDR Ryu as well, with the amount of control it affords on the direction & distance of your jump and the amount of uses you can come up with! I’m slightly worried that other characters with simpler specials (or supers) that don’t introduce more movement/zoning/etc options like Grave’s do will not feel nearly as interesting as Grave does – but I know Sirlin is well aware of this and I am sure he can come up with lots more interesting characters over time.
11. We couldn’t find much use for Grave B’s sweep style move, especially since there’s actually no low attacks. I think the only effective thing I did with it was in a cross-up combo.
Expect more updates in future as we follow this game through it’s development.