The clothes make the wham
The hyperactive, psychedelic and extremely loud opera that is action anime is tailor-made for fighting games. Much of the medium was built around combat, usually engaged in fantastical and groundbreaking ways. Since Fist of the North Star and Dragon Ball Z for The attack of the Titans, naruto, and everything in between, the colorful and ridiculous violence of anime often translates well into the gaming world. Hell, there’s even anime on fighting games now. The lens turned inward, people.
And so it looks like Trigger Studio would eventually come up with a scrapper based on a modern classic. kill her kill her. Exploding in the mid-2010s, kill her kill her immediately won over an army of fans with its wild action, quirky characters, frankly absurd premise and, of course, its lashes of cheesecake nudity. In fact, it’s amazing that Kill la Kill The Game: SI – by APLUS Games and Arc System Works – took that long to arrive, given the obvious potential of the source material.
Yet why ask why? Let’s dive into the world of spiky members of the high fashion school Honnouji Academy and its bizarre and often undressed student body.
Kill la Kill The Game: SI (PS4 [reviewed]computer, Nintendo switch)
Developer: APLUS Games
Publisher: Arc System Works
Released: July 25 (EU), July 26 (US), 2019
Developed by anime enthusiasts APLUS Games (who were also behind the aesthetically pleasing but technically poor Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time), Kill la Kill The Game: SI is an arena fighter that emphasizes movement and distance over complex combos. Fighters battle it out on a large 3D plane, allowing movement in all directions, with the action alternating between close combat and long-range projectiles.
As is the style of many recent fighters, Kill la Kill: IF features a streamlined control system, equipping each of its warriors with standard attacks, projectile attacks, and special attacks. Double tapping the jump button causes your fighter to dash towards the opponent with an air dash (similar to Dragon Ball Fighter Z‘s “Dragon Rush”) while a one-button guard system can be transformed into quick strafes and dashes with a flick of the directional stick. Basically, Kill la Kill: IF offers all-around movement, with plays, dodges, and counter-moves rewarding the player with the ability to strike, blasting kinetic auto combos with a flurry of button presses.
Kill la Kill: IFThe mechanics of is certainly unique. Exciting, even. The control system allows fans – who may not know the fighters well – to start throwing flashy, cinematic combos with little fuss. But, as a double-edged sword, the action is flawed by the nature of its design. Depth perception is a real problem in IF. From a distance, quick, perfect movement through a flurry of projectiles can be a frustrating exercise. There’s a reason why fighters, even 3D entries like tekkenessentially stay on a 2D plane, and that’s because measuring distance is everything.
In Kill la Kill: IF, 3D movement, and wide variety of dashes can provide thrilling battles, but can also be a harrowing experience as you smash your way through a barrage of projectiles and guard-breaking special attacks. Double whether the camera chose to sit your character at binocular level distance, or fill the screen with wild visual effects and HUD callbacks. Up close, things pick up speed, with the auto-combo system allowing for various “routes” based on mid-chain directional inputs. These chains can lead to juggles, aerial combos, wall folds and spectacular supers.
As a fighting game, Kill la Kill: IF features acceptable and even thrilling gameplay, but its inherent flaws prevent it from delivering a tight and reliable combat experience. Fans of the show will be delighted with the on-screen action, but those looking for deeper mechanics might find that, although it says Arc System Works on the box, Kill la Kill: IF is not at the same level as a BlazBlue or Guilty Equipment.
An element where the inspiration of ArcSys Is shine through is in Kill la Kill: IFanimated visuals and audio. The character models are crisp, well-animated, and full of life. The game’s intros, winposes, cinematic attacks and hilarious “Bloody Valor” insult system do the source material justice, while a cool soundtrack lends a charismatic flair to the action. Good work is done on the Japanese and English voiceovers, but mid-battle captions get repetitive real quick. Overall, these audiovisual elements are IFis the ace in the hole, and fans will be thrilled to see their favorite characters brought to life, so they can once again clench their fists and scream in profile.
This brings us to the heart of kill her kill her if, which is its single-player campaign. Essentially an alternate retelling of the events of the anime (hence the “IF” in the title), the game allows us to revisit some of the series’ most memorable elements: “The Election of Naturals”, the Life- Fiber, the rivalry between class president Satsuki Kiryuin and rebellious student Ryuko Matoi, the Elite Four, the deliciously psychotic Ragyo… All of these and more are brought to life in well-crafted cutscenes, with a plot that follows threads familiar (no pun intended) but also throws in a few surprises.
This is a short trip, however, that the dedicated will complete in a few hours. Once it’s done and dusted, Kill la Kill: IF offers a few unlockable secondary modes – like the battle of gauntlets COVERS – but clunky AI consistently prevents them from becoming truly engaging. Local VS. Playing with friends is definitively the key to longevity with this particular fighter. As of this writing, unfortunately I have not been able to test the online stability of the game.
When they’re on their own, players can use earned currency to unlock a variety of extras. These include the game’s artwork, soundtrack, and voice lines. “Special Figure” mode is essentially a diorama game for you to arrange your favorite maniacs into dynamic poses, which you can then capture to posterity with a camera function. Hold on tight, you. All in all, it’s not a deep package for your fifty bucks, especially given the genre’s efforts in recent years to give players a glut of single-player content.
And therein lies the conclusion drawn by Kill la Kill: IF. In the end, we do enough to satiate more fans in terms of sights and sounds, beloved characters, nostalgic references, and limited but fun gameplay. But IF fails to achieve higher goals, ala Bandai Namco Dragon Ball FighterZ, an anime fighter who absolutely broken through the glass ceiling of its own audience, becoming a darling of the wider community. Still, not every game is for everyone, and thanks to clever presentation and unique action, Kill la Kill: IF should provide fans with solid entertainment. It’s really a “fan game”, however, and nothing more.
Kill la Kill: IF succeeds in translating the hyper-kinetic universe, wild action, and extreme characters of its namesake into a fun experience, but is held back by lackluster secondary content and inherent flaws in its own design. It’s worth it if you’re already a franchise fan, but those who haven’t yet gotten caught up in Life-Fibers should wait for that particular seam number to hit the reduced rail.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]