Every once in a great while, a game comes along that provides an experience that is unmatched, making numerous memories along the way. A couple of my own examples involve seeing Mario’s face upon firing up Super Mario 64 on N64’s launch day or having that magical feeling of surprise and wonder during the entire journey of Secret of Mana when I was a youngster. I treasure these memories for the stellar gameplay but also the emotions they evoked of playing with friends and being intoxicated by the soundtrack even after the game has been turned off.
What does my nostalgia of early to mid-90s gaming have to do with Fight Crab? Because it tickled the same type of gaming nerves but pretty much in the opposite way of these examples from my childhood. It instantly created memories and put a smile on my face but in a way that I didn’t anticipate. You see, Fight Crab is easily one of the most stupid, ridiculous, and nonsensical games that I played this console generation – and it is pretty awesome for it.
Playing as a sea crustacean, the goal is to knock the opposing sea creature on its back for a few seconds to claim victory. Although the player can control the movement of the crab, most of the control comes down to the mapping of each craw with use of both the left and right analog sticks. Flicking a stick can swing these arms to jab or uppercut but can also be held in a direction to block. Taking a note from Smash Bros., there is no energy bar. Instead, each successful attack increases the enemy’s percentage and the higher the number the easier it is to knock the other crab on its back. Skilled players can use early techniques to claim victory or it could be more beneficial to slowly wear down the enemy. Either way, play control is purposely loose, slow, and relies a lot on ragdolls physics. This should not be mistaken for low quality or annoying features though. Instead, these ridiculous controls exactly mimic the stupid over-the-top action of having two crabs fight in a cityscape Godzilla-style.
Just when you think it couldn’t get any weirder, revolvers, swords, and other medieval weaponry get involved. Why is your crab holding a pistol? Where did it learn to fight with a sword and shield? Did you know crabs can arm themselves by grabbing cars and entire palm trees? Where did it get that jet engine? Then, after shooting that lobster in the face or smacking that snow crab with a ninja star thing, whamm-o, you can active hypermode. As if the game wasn’t ridiculous enough, turning your crab into a Saiyan and bursting into a bomb takes the stupidity to another level. Again, it is pretty stupidly awesome.
Fight Crab has a surprising amount of depth and not only with different combat techniques. Each fight earns currency used to upgrade the skills of each crab, unlock a couple dozen additional crab fighters, and even earn new weaponry. Unlocking everything will easily take hours, let alone experimenting with a vast roster of clawed fighters. The game’s presentation was designed with player convenience in mind too. After each fight in the single player mode, the player has the option to just continue right then and there without waiting for a loading screen. Alternatively, the player can boot back to the main menu to level up before the next fight. The issue with the menu system is that each screen is overlaid on top of each other which makes the menu a little difficult to read as you can see the text from the previous tier.
There is an extensive single player offering but there are also multiplayer options. As I had early access to this title, I didn’t have the chance to test the online 1-v-1 or 2-v-2 modes but imagine these options will be popular once the game is available to all Switch owners. During the single player campaign, there will be times it is necessary to face two crabs at once. These fights get pretty intense but can make you feel like a crab ninja if successful. There are also alternatives to pinning your opponent on their backs too. Some stages allow for ring outs so pushing crabs off a ledge opens for door for additional strategy. Perhaps the coolest and most unexpected feature I encountered during the single player campaign was when the game asked me if I needed some assistance after losing a couple times in battle. Reluctantly selecting “yes” had a friendly AI crab join in the next battle to team up against the enemy. More shocking is the crab actually fought and wasn’t just background fodder. It is also worth mentioning that the crabs can “creepily” walk up walls. I put “creepily” in quotes because even the game makes fun of this fact. Have you ever seen a crab walk sideways on a walk? It is indeed creepy.
When it comes down to it, Fight Crab is the stupidest button masher available this generation… and for some dumb reason I couldn’t stop playing. The rock/synth soundtrack also plays perfectly in conjunction with the realistic landscaping, making the crabs play and feel like a King Kong versus Godzilla battle. Is this the game of the year? Of course not. Does this title deserve its spot at Evo? Put your vote in now. Is this game stupid, dumb fun filled with button breaking stupidity? Like a terrible B movie, that is what makes it so great.