A Non-Review of Fantasy Strike in Two Images

Sunday, July 26th, 2020

This is not a review of Fantasy Strike since I played all of about 15 minutes of it. It’s billed as the fighting game for people who cannot play fighting games - simple moves which don’t rely on dexterous combinations of arcane inputs.

That sounds like my jam. It is not.


The tutorial insists on its own labels for buttons. It’s easy as long as you remember that C means A and A means Y. Maybe this attempt to redefine your gamepad is normal for fighting games? I have no idea.

I found the rest of the tutorial similarly awkward in lesser ways which are harder to express as fake levels from Baba is You.

Cast of characters from the Fantasy Strike Steam store page

Once I powered through the tutorial, I was greeted with a generic1 cast of characters where the male gaze is rampant and closest thing to representation is a gambling panda bear with no pants.

I get that the fighting genre is rife with problems of representation and that worse offenders like Dead or Alive exist. However, we can do better and those other games don’t set out to be for everyone.

This was enough to make me call it a day.

Sirlin once wrote a detailed analysis of why HBO should remake the last season of Game of Thrones. He did this because he was a fan who loved the show it might have been.

I’m not half as clever as Sirlin so you just get two images and some lame jokes to make a similar point. I love what Fantasy Strike might have been if it was tested with people who fall outside the typical pro fighting circuit demographic. As it stands, I’m not sure who this game is for.

I’ll keep rooting for Fantasy Strike to become more truly diverse and noob-friendly over time.

  1. One likely reason the characters are problematic is that no one appears to care too much. They are defined in promotional material by generic descriptors like “fire,” “martial arts,” and “sword.” Also note how the last two characters in the roster are drawn in a different art style. These minor quibbles stand out because Fantasy Strike’s design is otherwise so precise - you can read all about the frame-by-frame animation and netcode here for instance. 

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