The Switch has been around for a few years now, and in that time plenty of good fighting games have been released for it.
With the launch of Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[cl-r], however, it now has one of the hottest fighting games currently available. It’s the ultimate version of a fighting game that’s fast-paced, easy to pick up but hard to master, and full of interesting characters. Sure, it doesn’t have as much content as some of its competitors, but its offerings aren’t exactly anaemic. If you pick it up on Switch, you’re not going to be disappointed with Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[cl-r] at all.
So, if you’ve played Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st] before, what’s new? There’s a new character, Londrekia Light, who’s yet another contender to get to grips with and ultimately master. He’s quickly become one of my favourites thanks to his flashy moves. His arrival means that the game’s story has been tweaked to take him into consideration, too, if you’re bothered about the game’s story that is. There are also new stages, background music tracks, sound effects and voice lines; these little things all add up. Most importantly, however, the whole game has been balanced based on player feedback.
If you’re a devout Under Night In-Birth player, you’ll notice little tweaks to each character’s moveset. Some attacks that previously couldn’t be charged now can, for example, and the odd special attack has been reworked. Of course, these changes won’t be obvious to those jumping in for the first time on Switch, but they make the game better for everyone overall. Under Night In-Birth Exe Late[cl-r] is simply deeper and batter balanced than ever before. And if you own Under Night In-Birth Exe Late[st] on another platform, don’t worry: these balance changes will arrive for free via a patch.
For those entering the world of Under Night In-Birth with the Switch version of Late[cl-r], its menu screen is likely to be a little bewildering. Pretty much everything you could ask for is on offer; there’s an arcade mode with story scenes for each and every one of the game’s 21 characters, a time attack mode, score attack mode, survival mode, training, missions, and tutorials. In fact, Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[cl-r]‘s training mode is one of the most comprehensive there is. And for those who want to delve into the game’s story, Chronicles mode is essentially a visual novel.
Of course, there’s also versus mode so you can jump into single fights against the CPU or another local player; and there’s online functionality. Whether you want to test your skills in ranked battles or enjoy yourself fighting with friends in player matches, Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[cl-r] has you covered. It’s just a shame the game’s netcode isn’t the best. You’re going to want to find matches against people not all that far away for best results, and it’s probably a good idea to stick to a wired connection.
It’s the actual combat of Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[cl-r] that’s the real draw here. Thanks to its four button system, it’ll feel familiar to anyone who’s ever played a BlazBlue or Guilty Gear game. It means that attacks, from weak to strong, can be easily combo’d into each other, and then you can finish with a powerful special attack. On the subject of special attacks, they’re not arduous to pull off either; if you can perform quarter or half circles, you’re all set.
The result is combat that feels enjoyably accessible. Within minutes, you can feel competent enough with a character to have some fun and pull off some flashy moves. But you’ll always be at the mercy of someone who has mastered any particular character. Thanks to advanced features such as Infinite Worth combos, Vorpal, the EXS gauge and Veil Off, there are always ways to further your abilities, allowing you to get out of sticky situations or simply lay more hurt on your opponent. There’s a reason why Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[cl-r] is included in this year’s EVO line-up.
Though Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[cl-r] is the latest incarnation of a game that is now some eight years old, it still looks nice. Its 2D characters are wonderfully animated, and though the 3D backgrounds are a bit dull they do the job. The game really shines in handheld mode, obviously, where pixellation of the characters is rarely apparent, and also the aliasing of the backgrounds. Play in docked mode and it’s about on par with the PS4 version of the game, albeit with slightly longer load times.
Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[cl-r] might just be the best fighting game available on Switch. In fact, I’ll just say it: it is the best fighting game on Switch. It doesn’t have 40+ characters and it doesn’t have the history or familiarity of franchises such as Street Fighter, but it doesn’t need them. Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[cl-r] simply puts up a bloody good fight and that’s all you can ask for. The cavalcade of modes in which to sink your teeth into is just the icing on an already delicious cake.