The first rule of Fight Crab is to tell everyone about Fight Crab!
Indie games never cease to amaze with their creativity and risks that larger more established studios are just not willing to take. Certainly, the results vary as there are dozens of Car Trader (seriously don’t check it out) titles for every Hollow Knight. So is Fight Crab the king of crustacean combat or is it just supermarket imitation crab sitting in the discount bin?
KING OF THE MONSTERS
Imitation crab, when used properly, can be delicious and so can an off the wall fighter that no one saw coming. Fight Crab doesn’t need much of an introduction. This is an odd case where the title explains everything you need to know, well sort of. FC is at its core a 1v1 or 2v2 fighter where players assume the role of 1 of 23 species of crab. On paper that doesn’t sound too enjoyable which means something was left out. That’s where the 48 weapons ranging from knives and nunchucks to battle axes and lamposts come in. Your spiny shelled avatar can use their claws alone to attack but why when you can dual wield a pistol and palm tree. The semi destructible environments perfectly accentuate the over the top mayhem that ensues as you battle for ultimate supremacy. Notice, there was no mention of the sea, as the crabby combatants battle it out in real-world settings giving off Kaiju vibes as you decimate city streets or medieval castles.
Visually, FC is pretty solid. Each of the varying species, including lobsters, look good. While not as sharp as the pinchers you duke it out with they do an admirable job of conveying their real-world counterparts. The environments are the real treat here. Each has its own unique feel and assortment of environmental weapons to use. The previously mentioned semi destructible environments are well done and break apart and shatter in a manner that will have you believing you are watching an old Creature feature.
THE PERFECT KRABBY PATTY
Control-wise FC will split the bouillabaisse of players. Keeping with that theme this one really comes down to taste. Do you enjoy a low country crab boil or a Maryland crab cake? Fight crab is easily controllable in the traditional sense. Each of the analogue sticks manipulates the corresponding arm. The triggers are used to attack while the bumpers are used to block or grab objects including weapons and other crabs. There is a real sense of satisfaction when you time a grab just right neutralising the enemy’s arm leaving them open for a blow with your free arm. The d-pad is used for movement and takes some getting used to. You don’t move freely around the environment you more guide your crusty crustacean by pressing a direction. They continue to walk in the direction until you order them in another. This works well in the end as it frees up your fish fin… frees up your fingers to worry about the battle at hand. The developers did thankfully include full joy-con support. Playing this way is an absolute joy. Waving your arms around as you punch and claw was a satisfying feeling. While not perfect by any stretch, they have done an admirable job of utilising the tech at their disposal to elevate what could be a ho-hum experience.
Audio-wise things are on the arcade side of the fence. This fits the tone of the game perfectly as the clanging swords ring in your ear. The music is the star here though. Tracks ranging from hard rock guitars to euphoric pop songs that somehow just work. Nothing ever felt out of place, but that has to be hard when you’re dealing with Mr. Krabs brethren doing battle so as to not be on the menu.
Overall, Fight Crab is a surprisingly, or not, fun title. The sheer absurdity of the concept comes together well in this digital package. Unfortunately, the controls will alienate some people as it does take some getting used to. The only other real negative here is the replayability. At the time of the review, we were unable to engage in any online combat. The only multiplayer matches were played locally and were a blast. That said, single-player offering just isn’t as meaty as the King Crab. There are other crabs to unlock as well as your assortment of weapons. This is achieved by spending the money you earn feasting on the belly up competition. This just isn’t enough for those who have no desire to engage with other crabs, HUMAN competitors. The rudimentary levelling up system feels tacked on and ultimately like a way to steal your in-game money.
Fight Crab is just absurd enough to be fun. Fighting game purists will scoff at the idea of Coconut crabs battling to the death with a samurai sword and shield but true gamers will enjoy the originality the title brings. The frame rates aren’t as buttery (30-50 fps) as they are on PC (60 FPS) but it hardly affects the gameplay. While not a Michelin star-worthy title, this is one you and friends can certainly crack a cold one to and have a good time.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 15/09/2020
No. of Players: 1-4
Category: Fighting, Action
Developer: Calappa Games
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop