We’re told, in school, that plagiarism is bad. “Do your own work and don’t copy off of other people,” say the teachers, “that’s dishonest.” You’d hope that, upon leaving school, we’d all hold on to this ethos after having it drilled into our very being, ready to set out into the world and succeed with our own work, striving for originality in all that we do.
That’s not the case though, is it? Life is half effort, half imitation. Music, books, films, games, Cronuts, every aspect of life is replicated by someone or other hoping to snatch a slice of another’s success Heck, half of my reviews are just tweaked versions of Mick’s, but don’t tell him that (I’m already onto you – Ed). But then again, most of the examples in my head are more in the line of flattery, I suppose: people basing work on proven, similar ideas but adding a personal twist. That’s just been the way of business since time immemorial.
But then there’s the seedier side: backstreet knock-offs, nameless imitations, copycat artists. These are what our teachers urge us to shy away from, the idea of trying to replicate work with no respect or appreciation for the source. And that painfully long intro brings us to the reason we are here: Girl Fight.
Girl Fight is a fighting game with the following commands: punch, kick, counter, block and grab, and the cast is made up purely of buxom lassies with curiously cut-off tops and bottoms. Sound familiar? This is budget Dead or Alive. This is No Frills Dead or Alive . You’d half expect it to be sold on the digital marketplaces by a miscreant wearing a floor-length trench coat uttering words like “This is the real deal, proper top quality nick, mate, just like the real thing”. This is Del Boy Dead or Alive.
In all honesty, it’s a hideous attempt at a fighting game. Even ignoring the questionable character designs the fighting engine isn’t so much a mess as just plain dull. Built around stunningly basic punch and kick strings, the system features only high and low strikes and nothing by way of a juggle system or any sort of creativity in combo creation. The counter mechanic is one of only two interesting elements, and that works in the exact same way as DoA (high counter for high attacks, low counter for low attacks). But the simplicity isn’t the problem. Everything here ‘works’, but it’s all just so flavourless. Attack strings are short, too fast, and non-distinct; this undermines the balance that DoA strives for with its varied, clear-to-read strings (which, in being flamboyant and signalled, inform the counter system better) and character specific moves – and the flow of combat is awfully basic thanks to Girl Fight’s limited mechanics pool.
Furthermore, the eight characters on display are awfully similar to one another, all based on a simple punch and kick combat engine with the only clear differences between them being the attire and magnitude of jiggle physics. The lack of any real special or signature moves really doesn’t help matters, either.
The second of Girl Fight’s interesting features, and its one true stab at creativity, lies in its answer to a super meter. Before a fight you choose two “mods”, and these mods can be activated with the shoulder buttons for a burst of power. From giving you health-sapping hits, adding extra attack power or even giving you access to a nice, surprising ground pound technique, these powers are a quaint idea but they just don’t quite hit home. The idea of being able to spend meter on a bit of a buff isn’t a bad one, but it’s too easy for your opponent to simply default to defence during these moments, and Girl Fight offers no clear vocabulary for mixing these into combos. Ultimately, the potential to use these as comeback tools is diminished due to Girl Fight’s poor combat engine, and not because they’re a bad idea outright.
It’s just a sodding shame, really, because someone at Kung Fu Factory clearly cares for Girl Fight. Delve into its extra features and you’ll discover some dark and interesting character bios, but the lifeless mannequins that represent these words in combat feel worlds apart. In a way it harks back to the fighters of the 90’s; unfortunately what clearly started as a good idea apparently got mangled and perverted somewhere along the line.
The game also offers only the bare minimum of features: Arcade Mode (including an over-powered boss encounter), online, local versus and a practice mode. It’s a bare minimum package, and just one of many ways in which Girl Fight’s budget ethos oozes through your screen.
VERDICT: The gaming equivalent of a knock-off Rolex, Girl Fight takes all the concepts and themes of Dead or Alive, imitates its combat’s mechanics with no idea how to make them enjoyable, plays up its more repulsive features, and pretends to be the real deal when it’s nothing more than a cheap, tacky, disposable imitation. Considering Dead or Alive 5 is now free to play, Girl Fight is utterly redundant.
BAD. Ugly, lazy, and unpleasant, if we’ve scored a game so low then it has serious issues. A 3/10 game will suffer from a combination of uninspired, lacklustre design, unfixed bugs and poor presentation.