Indie Fighting Prototypes – Shuzen (朱漸)

In my continuous search for new indie fighting games to play, I often find projects in very early stages of development. Many of them show promising new mechanics and fresh ideas, but they are not ripe enough for a regular review. Sometimes, graphics are just sketched placeholders. Or, maybe, there is no music or sound effects. Or, at times, the only playable mode is local multiplayer, with no AI implemented.

However, I believe there is value in talking about games in their infancy, therefore, I am inaugurating this new series of articles dedicated to fighting game prototypes, tech demos and early builds! These articles will be shorter than my usual reviews and will focus more on what the game brings to the table and less on their overall presentation.

This week, we start with the game that acted as an inspiration for this column: the promising Shuzen (朱漸), made by Japanese developer 莉琉 (Mariru), who is also an active artist on Skeb.

Umbral Core – sneak peek at the first playable build

Thanks to an unlikely series of coincidences, I have managed to take part in person to the first live event of the upcoming indie fighting game Umbral Core. The event was held at Nemiex Club in Milan on the 25.09.2022 and allowed those around the venue to play the first alpha build of the game. I went there, had a chat with the devs, took part to a public Q&A session and—most importantly—I have put my hands on the game. This article summarizes my experience and the developers’ thoughts what to expect from Umbral Core in the near future.

Resistance 204X – a cyberpunk spiritual successor to Nidhogg

I have stumbled upon Resistance 204X for the first time on Reddit. The flashy presentation, the fast movement and the “defeat your opponent until you can reach the goal post at the correct side of the stage” made for a very compelling first impression. The gameplay trailer later that month “sold” it even more. But I honestly had my doubts—was the game going to be style over substance or was it going to satisfy those expectations?
After playing the sign-up beta, I can answer that question with a resounding “Yes, Resistance 204X delivers exactly what it promises”.

Fight of Animals – greater than the sum of its parts

Fight of Animals is a weird beast to describe. Digital Crafter went from Jesus cross-ups to meme animals brawling in the span of just one year, but the level of additional polish Fight of Animals reached in such a small time (less than nine months between the two games) is stellar.
I’m not sure what the budget for Fight of Animals was, but all things considered there is an air of “doing the most with the smallest investment” that I can’t help but commend. This aura permeates the whole game and it’s equally charming and intriguing, especially under the lens of another developer.
One could think that such a downsized title cannot be that deep. However, they’d be totally wrong, because what’s left is more than enough and is the core of a very compelling fighting game experience—with a solid competitive community and an upcoming Vortex Gallery tournament in August!

Head 2 Head – smashing skulls with style

For those who are familiar with the indie fighting game scene, ArcForged might be a household name. This small, independent development team has gained prominence thanks to their fan game Sonic Smackdown — a tribute to the Marvel Vs Capcom series that featured Sonic characters. ArcForged decided to test their new toy with a smaller project, all substance and straight to the point: The chaotical, fast paced, skull-twisting Head 2 Head!

Now on Kickstarter! Blazing Worldstars and Drag Her!

Crowdfunding is a harsh mistress, and many projects come and go without being able to see the light of the day. However, developers are rightfully trying to get their ideas out, sometimes giving us some rough alpha versions worth checking out. This week we talk about not one, but two demos, fresh out of a rocky Kickstarter campaign: the drag queen antics of the crazy “Drag Her!” and the ambitious “Blazing Worldstars”!

MerFight — Something fishy this way comes

When I think about mermaids, the first thing that comes to mind is a girl with a sea-shell bra and a fishtail, accompanied by an obnoxious red crab, who sings about the beauty of living under the sea. Well, thanks, uncle Walt, but today I’m not here to talk about THAT kind of mermaids. Today, we are here to discuss the ACTUAL merfolk, of the hybrid, semi-monstrous type, and about a fighting game roster exclusively made up of them!So, with the blessing of Rikuo from Darkstalkers (who may or may not have been an inspiration for the game’s theme), let’s dive together into the world of “MerFight: Curse of the Arctic Prince”, developed by Mattrified Games!

Two Strikes — samurai, honor and death

Ready your katana, polish your kunais, because we are riding to feudal Japan to meet our fate at the hand of one of six different assassins: Welcome to the merciless world of Two Strikes, a game made by the three-men development studio Retro Reactor and currently available in early access on Steam!

Mega Knockdown — taking “it’s my turn, now!” too literally

If some of you watched one of the most recent videos by Stumblebee about creativity in indie fighting games, you might have caught wind of a quirky, work-in progress game, which played on a grid, with digitized actors placeholder graphics. At that point of the video, you might have asked yourself “what is this game”? Well, fret not, my fellow indie fighting game connoisseur, because this Thursday I’m taking you for a ride in the bizarre world of Mega Knockndown, a turn-based fighting game developed by the small studio Mega Memecast!

Fight’N’Jokes — rolling back, 25 years later

An “Italian MS-DOS cartoon fighting game re-released with planned rollback”. There is a lot to unpack in this short sentence. First, because I haven’t lived the MS-DOS era myself, I was born at its sunset — My first operating system was Windows 98. Secondly, because we are talking rollback, and, specifically, retrofitting rollback netcode into a 25 years old game. Third, because I’m Italian, like the developers.
So, today, join me and Antonio Lattanzio while we talk about the re-release of Fight’N’Jokes, a hidden gem from a forgotten past coming back with rollback netcode!