If you’ve ever been absentmindedly browsing the gaming side of Twitter in the past few years, you may have seen bits of Fight Crab. This is usually the odd gif of a video game in development where crabs with janky movement physics wave their claws at each other. Sometimes in those claws, they hold knives, guns, swords or perhaps they have rockets strapped to them and they’re using said rockets to give themselves super punches. If you happen to be like me then you acknowledged how awesome that game would be if it ever came out but made no effort to follow it because you’re lazy. Then! On the auspicious day of the 29th of July, you saw some familiar, janky crabs, lighting up your Steam releases.
Fight Crab is a fighting game where crabs (and the occasional lobster) throw down in a battle to be the best crab (or lobster) in town. Excuse me if this review is going to be somewhat brief and mostly focused on the fact that Fight Crab (a game about crabs fighting by the way) is a game about crabs fighting. Most indie fighting games don’t get a lot of traction for one simple reason, they want to be a competitive fighting game and that’s really hard to make. When I say competitive I’m not saying they aspire to go to EVO but they want the game to feel like a fighting game with all the combos, balance and polish that they deserve.
Fight Crab (a game about crabs fighting) doesn’t worry about any of that. It is factually a fighting game. But it’s made of jank with a spritz of jank and a whole lot of love. The combat is like most fighting games, easy to learn but hard to master. You move your claws with the analogue stick and punch with the triggers. Movement is automatic, changing directions by pressing different D-Pad directions. It’s a little finicky at first if you’re used to other, similar, 3D fighting games like Dragon Ball Xenoverse or the Naruto Shippuden games, but after a few minutes you’ll get the hang of it.
Your objective isn’t, however, to drop the enemy’s health down to zero. Calappa Games (get it?) knew that system wouldn’t really work with Fight Crab (did I mention the fighting crabs?) so they implemented an elegant solution. FLIP. THAT. CRAB! The more damage you do to your enemy crab the more likely you are to knock them on their back, at which point a countdown from 3 starts and if they cannot right themselves before 0 they lose. Very simple, but there is nuance hidden under that shell.
The mechanics get a little more interesting when you add three things, directional punches, weapons and different crabs. Depending on where you move your analogue stick, ergo your claw, when you punch changes the direction and velocity of the punch. Thus an uppercut is going to be much more effective at flipping an opponent than a downward punch. However the trade off is uppercuts are much easier to block and do a little less damage. While you are more than welcome to just spam the shoulder buttons and mash your enemy crab into cakes, you are also rewarded for wanting a little more strategy in your Fight Crab (A game about, okay you get the picture by now.)
Weapons can be bought in the shop with credits you earn from winning fights, as can other crabs. These weapons are held in your claws and use stamina to swing, run out of stamina, you drop your weapon and have to wait for your stamina to come back before you pick it up again. Some weapons, like knives, are very straight forward. They simply allow you to do more damage. Other weapons like, my personal favourite, the anchor come with a chain which allows you to throw the anchor at an opponent; doing damage and allowing you to pull them towards you a little. There’s also guns and, of course, lightsabers. I mean BEAMsabers. Totally different. Totally. Some weapons even have their own little secrets when you enter ‘hyper mode’ but I’ll leave those for you to discover. No spoilers.
It wouldn’t truly be a fighting game without selectable characters. As I mentioned you can buy new crabs in the store and level them up to make them better, faster and yes, stronger. And because each crab has its own little quirks it does actually feel like a meaningful purchase. Personally, I am a huge fan of the Coconut Crab. So I immediately bought one when I unlocked it. Trying it out I immediately noticed a difference. The Coconut Crab’s claws are in a completely different position to your starting crab which then massively alters your range of movement and punches. In the end, it wasn’t for me. I found my comfort zone with the good old fashioned Mud Crab. Fast and great for grabs (oh yeah there’s grabs) but easily knocked over.
Graphically the game is exactly where you’d expect it to be. I couldn’t, in good faith, say that this game is graphically impressive. But the colours are bright, the flashes are powerful and the arenas are, mostly, destructible. And the soundtrack might as well be ripped out of your anime wet dreams. It pulses in your ears and gets you pumped for the battles ahead.
Overall for £15.49 on Steam or over on Itch.io. I had a tonne of fun with Fight Crab, it makes it hella more fun if you scream crab based puns throughout your time with the game and whenever you do something cool you scream in your best anime protagonist (or antagonist, you are your own crab and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) scream. If you take your video games very seriously and want them to all be flawless masterpieces like James Bond Jr. for the SNES, don’t buy this game. If you just want to have a laugh smacking crustaceans about, then be my guest. This game is well worth the price of entry.