Fight Crab isn’t the deepest fighting game, but this daft crab-based claw ’em up is so much fun it doesn’t matter it won’t be headlining the next EVO tournament.
A mash-up of sumo and Manual Samuel by way of a supermarket’s seafood counter, Fight Crab has you flailing away in an effort to flip your opponent onto their back. According to the tutorial you have total control over your crab; each thumbstick controls a claw, tapping a direction button lets you encircle your foe, and another pair of buttons control opening and closing your claws.
Things never quite work out that way, however – particularly if you’re in single-player, where CPU enemy crabs are twice as competent as you. Your first match is unlikely to be the stuff of legend; you’ll spend the first 20 seconds scraping your claws over your opponent’s scalp, as if you were trying to wipe your bogies on their shell. Then, you’ll end up picking their invisible nose with your claws, before scuttling around in circles wondering how Fight Crab ever passed alpha testing.
But give it a chance and Fight Crab will sink its pincers into you. Controlling your crab gets easier and you come to appreciate how wonderfully absurd the game is. Like serving dinner with a marionette, you know it’s going to end in mayhem, but you get such joy from trying that it’s all worth it. It helps that Fight Crab offers a wealth of customisation options, with multiple crab species, and some gloriously strange arenas to explore.
True, the campaign mode is just a few short arena style levels, but Fight Crab’s floaty physics and overly dramatic music make each pincer punch-up a lot of fun. Like Godzilla’s worst nightmare, you can battle through a colossal cityscape, bludgeoning up to three other players (human or computer-controlled) with a lamppost. And fighting around a castle’s halls like a crustacean Errol Flynn is a real rush.
Fight Crab’s versus mode can be played against bots, but it’s much more fun when you’re facing down a human opponent. I wasn’t able to get an game online, because Fight Crab hadn’t been release yet, but I roped in a friend for a split-screen match – the PC version supports up to four players on the same screen. There was more button mashing than actual strategy, but it was a laugh riot. There are an impressive number of weapons to play with, but the trick is keeping hold of them; many’s the time I held aloft a +4 Shining Sword of Shell Smashing only to fumble and shamefully drop it a few seconds later.
Fight Crab is a silly, silly game, but its absurdity elevates it, comic mayhem covering for the fact that you’re never really in complete control of your crab. I can see Fight Crab becoming a go-to party game, especially when alcohol is involved. And if you can’t blame your loss on your choice of crab, you can at least blame it on the booze.
Fight Crab is available now on PC, and will be coming to Nintendo Switch on September 15th.