When a metaphorical GOAT meets an actual goat, what do you get? Well, a 2D fighting game that also combines an ingenious and humorous 2D pun-filled adventure with an Undertale-styled presentation, that’s what.
Developed as a spiritual successor to animated TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Them’s Fightin’ Herds originally had altogether different plans, but following a cease-and-desist order from Hasbro, became something a whole lot more original through crowdfunding channels, and potentially a lot more interesting.
As a non-brony I cannot admit to a shared love of the colorful hooved ones or a knowledge of their legendary friendships, but I can, however, certainly appreciate a decent effort to what ultimately is quite an original and enjoyable video game.
A fighter with a 4-legged twist is not even halfway to explaining a game which uses the action aspect as the mane, but not the entire offering. In fact, it would behoove you to go further and prance into the story which has the champeen of the lands start on an adventure of a lifetime and jump into some difficult boss battles and interesting gameplay additions.
Perhaps ‘interesting’ is the wrong way to put it. Intriguing, might perhaps be a better adjective as some of these additions land sturdily on four legs, while others are like a newly-born giraffe attempting to gain its composure.
2D isometric adventuring provides a platform for interesting maps and hilarious gags and the 2D platforming is both a detractor and a contributor to the overall product as it both provides innovative boss battle mechanics as well as poor platforming sections that had me mashing away on my controller hoping that lady luck would let me show jump over the inane jumping inputs to the enjoyable fights with crisply designed 2D models and decent combo action.
While the arcade and local/online modes boast a simple round-based action with varied characters and attacks, the story mode has you face-off against all included characters, as well as the many ‘shadow’ enemies that have escaped their confinement and threaten the entire world of ungulates, and is where the game is at its best.
Yes, this is more or less a fighting game with a story mode attached to it, but it’s all the better for it, simply because of the silly – but hilarious – jokes that it pulls off, such as the amusing prejudices between species and how some homeowners are expecting something very different from the bovine protagonist and whose ignorance of which feeds into the outrageous predicament.
The design of the 2D adventuring and fighting models are smooth and appealing, both cute and endearing, and it ensures that the My Little Pony crowd is catered to, but it also makes a case as a competent fighter from a gameplay standpoint with smooth animation and quick, adaptable combos with striking attacks and gameplay that – for a lack of a better description – is like Street Fighter on more legs, with similar head-on and follow through attacks that aim to trip and launch enemies into the air with a simple but effective moveset for each character.
While I haven’t been able to confirm the performance of the fighter online, the smoothness of the action locally and the rollback netcode should allow the game to flourish if given the chance.
For a game that had to be entirely re-designed and re-dressaged, Them’s Fightin’ Herds is an impressive barn stormer that comes out swinging, with an effective mix of the 2D adventure genre and fighting formula that appeals to both the offline and online crowds.