Yesterday, I got to watch a presentation all about Pillow Champ, an alternative fighter from Frosty Pop. As a big fighting game fan, I have to say that I’m pretty excited to play it. It’s not coming out until next year, but from what I saw it has plenty going for it. From the range of characters that are much more relatable than the likes seen in Street Fighter, combat that looks fluid and fun, and some gorgeous 2.5D visuals, it has potential to be a sleeper hit of 2024.
The world of Pillow Champ exists where peace on Earth seems to have actually happened. After this new sport of pillow combat was found by Marcus Duckworth, people relieve stress by bashing the hell out of each other with pillows. There will be two story modes, with one focused on Marcus, and one on the underground of pillow fighting, where according to the official Steam page, it’s about “an organization of ninjas who want to drag pillow fighting back into the world of the dark.”
It’ll be interesting to see the story unfold, but it was the combat that had me excited. There’s no blood or crunching bones. Instead, fighters get creative with pillows to achieve victory over the other. It calls back to the heyday of fighters, when games like Street Fighter 2 ruled the world, and from the gameplay we saw (also featured at the bottom of this preview), Frosty Pop has nailed that quick-paced feel of what made them so good back in the day.
In the Discord room, we were joined by founder of Frosty Pop, Faisal Sethi, and fan-favourite games writer Xalavier Nelson Jr. It always fills you with confidence when developers talk about their games with passion, and I got that feeling instantly. One of the talking points was how these characters are supposed to be more relatable, coming from different cultural backgrounds, all of different races and sizes. It’s refreshing to see this in games, and it’s something I really liked about Pillow Champ.
It’s also not taking itself seriously when it comes to the fighting, but rather aims to provide a fun challenge. I loved how one of the most famous parts of Street Fighter 2 was replicated in the presentation. Trying to break down a car with a pillow doesn’t quite land the same, but it was funny and a nice throwback. I already know who I’m going to start with, as Benoit Lapointe is a lumberjack with my kind of style. There will be eight fighters to choose from, all with their own unique styles, be it yoga or martial arts, each with their own skill sets.
The soundtrack will feature music which Xalavier said was inspired by The Social Network, and I am always down for something that shares similarities with the work of Trent Reznor. It’ll also be released on streaming platforms for listening when you’re playing games or cleaning the dishes, and it was something Xalavier listened to a lot while working on Pillow Champ, so it must be pretty fantastic. It’s a small part of what made Pillow Champ appeal to me, yet I can’t wait to listen to it.
Although I didn’t get to play Pillow Champ, I do think it could be really special, thanks to the focus on inclusion and old-school fighting gameplay. With two story modes, local and online gameplay (with the latter supported by rollback netcode), and a story written by the talented Xalavier Nelson Jr, I’m more than ready to pick up a pillow and beat the feathers out of anyone who dares stand in my way. The only disappointing thing about it is I can’t play it any time soon.
Pillow Champ is coming to Netflix Games, Steam, and Nintendo Switch in 2024.