Game Review #411: Kill La Kill The Game: IF (Nintendo Switch)
Developer: APLUS Games
Publisher: Arc System Works
Release Date: 7.26.2019
Price (at time of review): $59.99
As Dramatic as It Gets
Back in 2013, Kill La Kill blew the lid off of anime fans, with an over-the-top series that oozes with style and just general likeability. It is the first ever Original anime done by Trigger, who has since done many other shows that were met with much love, and has become a staple bastion of great anime within the community. Kill La Kill, at its core, followed Ryoko Matoi, a transfer student to Honnouji Academy, an insane high school in Japan led by the president of the student council, Satsuki Kiryuin. The students in this school all wear what is called a Goku Uniform, which essentially functions as battle armor. This clothing can make you go from a normal high schooler to an armor-clad samurai faster than the eye can see—or maybe an ornate band outfit, equipped with a giant laser on the traditional band leader hat.
There really are so many fun things they decided to do with this idea, and it showed through the characterization and love this show just exuded. Ryoko came to this story to find out who killed her father, and to get revenge on them. What she didn’t think she would uncover is the true secret of life fibers, the thing that causes the Goku Uniforms to hold such power. What they didn’t expect is that Ryoko ends up wielding both a Scissor Blade, capable of cutting life fibers, and a Kamui, which is made completely of life fibers and happens to be completely Sentient. With her Kamui, named Senketsu, Ryoko Goes up against the entire school in order to avenge her father and deal with the threat that arises as a result! This anime has BEGGED to have a game made for it, and, 6 years later, here we are! Now that you know the setting, let's delve into Kill La Kill The Game: IF!
Familiar, But a Different Spin
In the series, Ryoko was the protagonist, but this game answers the question of, “What if Satsuki was the heroine?” This game’s story mode was supervised under the original scenario writer for Kill La Kill, and it holds true to the anime in its levels of out-of-control levels of dramatic ridiculousness! This game truly translates the style and feel of the Kill La Kill anime into BEAUTIFUL 3-D graphics that resemble anime in motion so well that you might swear it was drawn!
This game, at its heart, is an arena fighter. Featuring large battle grounds, a 3-D plane to fight on, and big, flashy attacks, anyone who has played a fighting game of a popular shounen series like Naruto will feel right at home with this. This game takes fighting games and delivers a simplified control scheme that is deep, but easy to pick up without requiring hours of grinding in the lab in order to perfect a combo to your muscle memory. It does this by cutting down on your actions, but making them very purpose-built.
Your light attacks are to use when your opponent is trying to evade you, you guard when they won’t let up on their light attacks, so you can counter-attack, and if they just won't stop guarding, you hit them with a heavy-hitting, wide-ranged break attack that will give you the opportunity for HUGE damage! Beyond that you can also dash quickly through the air at your opponents, dodge around them to anticipate their attacks and take advantage of smart reads, or dash right at them for a surprise opener.
Combos are pretty simple, and follow more of a chain-like system rather than your traditional series of buttons. You will use directions, as well as just a few different buttons to unlock different strings of attacks, and you can also utilize super attacks in order to finish off a combo with big damage, or to punish your opponent’s bad move!
Just Like You Remember
A mechanic they also have that just FEELS so Kill La Kill is Bloody Valor. When your gauge for Bloody Valor fills, if you activate it and hit your opponent with the burst, you will begin what is called a debate. It is your classic anime opponents loudly yelling at each other, wrapped on top of a Rock-Paper-Scissors guess that will have you playing mind games if you are playing another human. Each time you win this, you can do another round to reach another Ketsui level, which will unlock more effects, culminating in level 3 Ketsui, which gives you access to your ultimate techniques.
This game has a good number of characters, while also utilizing different forms the existing characters went through in the series to put a new spin on them. Satsuki goes from being your all-arounder in her first form, but once she picks up another blade, she transforms into a high-energy, close-range rush-down character, while still retaining much of her original form’s style of fighting. Pretty much every main character has made it into this game, from the main characters, the Elite 4, Nui, Ragyo, and even Makoto made it in! Everyone has a really unique method of gameplay, and fits into their personality well—and yes, of course, they retain all of their super attacks that you remember from the show!
A Game For Fans
This game is oozing with fanservice, and I don’t mean the kind you would expect--although, there is, unsurprisingly, no shortage of that kind of fanservice to be found here either! With faithful 3-D recreations of famous scenes and moves from the series, this game is so familiar-feeling, that after all these years of nothing else from Kill La Kill, it was great to see its tone and style so faithfully recreated for this game!
This game doesn’t have the strategic depth and high-skilled inputs of things like Street Fighter or Blazblue, but what it does offer is a fun-as-anything gameplay experience that is easy to pick up, and hard to master. At higher levels of gameplay, this game gets very mind-game-heavy, which is a great style for people who may have issues executing some of the more difficult combos in other games.
I would recommend this game for fans of the anime—or anyone, really! Revisiting the world of one of my favorite animes has been an absolute joy, and I never expected this game to be anywhere near as good as it turned out to be. I’m actually not usually a fan of the good ole licensed anime fighting games, but this game took the simplicity that those games are known for, and wrapped it around a system that uses its simplicity to its advantage to create a unique experience for fans of fighting games and anime alike. If you enjoy either of these, don’t miss out on Kill La Kill The Game: IF!
If you are looking into playing this game and you have not seen the anime yet, I HIGHLY recommend you hop on Netflix and watch that first. It's not a long series by any means, and I promise, this game will have a much bigger intended effect on you after that. You are only doing yourself a favor with that one. The only real difference with the Switch version of this game is running at 30FPS rather than 60, which is an understandable gripe for some; and if this was a more competitively-deep fighting game, I would opt out for a version that has 60FPS, but don’t let that detract from getting the Switch version. It fits very nicely on the console, and I don’t feel the 30FPS soured my experience in the least.
This game also features the option to play online with your friends, or match-make against other random players, as long as you have the Nintendo Online Service—and if you don’t, get on that ASAP—and, in my experience, I had a good bit of lag, but I would suspect that it would be because MOST Switch players aren’t using a LAN adaptor to directly wire their Switch, which in fighting games online is kind of a must-have for a quality experience. I’m hoping it will improve as the community catches on, but I was still able to have a good number of decent, lagless fights with other players.
This game has a fantastic story mode, but the real meat is playing against other people and getting into the aforementioned mind games. The gallery in this game is huge, and any fan will have a blast going through it as well. There are plans for DLC characters as well, and I am hoping this game does well and continues to be supported! This fan gives Kill la Kill The Game: IF a 10/10! A must-play for fans of the series, anime in general, or fighting games! Get on it TODAY, and I’ll see you online! SEN-I-SOSHITSU!
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*Review Code Provided by PQube