Welcome to This Is Not A Review. In these articles we discuss general impressions, ideas and thoughts on any given game, but as the title implies, it’s not a review. Instead, it’s an exercise in offering a quick recommendation (or dismissal) after spending enough time to grasp the ideas and gameplay of a thing without necessarily playing it from A to Z.
The subject of this installment: Fight Crab, developed by Calappa Games and published by Playism.
When I make the decision to formally Not Review a game, it’s usually because there’s something preventing me from completing it or otherwise forming a clear, well-rounded opinion on it. In the case of Fight Crab, it’s because I’ve played plenty of it and still honestly have no idea whether or not I recommend it. I have all of the information I need, and I still can’t make heads or tails of this.
If you do a search on YouTube for Fight Crab, the first result is a Markiplier video — this communicates exactly how likely you are to find a serious, competitive experience beneath this silly premise. Although it’s technically a fighting game, its controls and physics are more akin to something like Octodad – unwieldy, imprecise, and unreliable. Although I’ve felt myself become better at the game as I’ve progressed through its campaign, I’m unconvinced that anyone can truly be good at it.
The object of every one-on-one match is for the player to flip the other crustacean – usually a crab, though the odd lobster is present – onto its back. Damage accumulates via a Smash Bros.-esque percentage meter that makes the target more susceptible to capsizing. Players move the crab’s claws with the left and right analog sticks, punching and grabbing things with the triggers and bumpers, respectively.
You may be wondering how the crabs actually move when both analog sticks are dedicated to attacking. Well, whenever the player gets a free moment, they can reach down and tap a direction on the d-pad, after which the crab will auto-strafe in that direction. Combined with the bouncy physics and the fact that attempting to aim the crab’s attacks feels more like a suggestion than an order, Fight Crab is less about mastery and more about closing your eyes and hoping for the best.
It was developed by Calappa Games, whose previous releases include Ace of Seafood and Neo Aquarium: The King of Crustaceans, so clearly they’re committed to a running theme and Fight Crab’s strange, uneven tone leaves me wondering if they’re trying to weave a competitive fighting engine out of this nonsense. The crabs are all rendered realistically, and the arcade-style menus and asynchronous J-rock soundtrack shriek a self-serious sense of cool, albeit the sort we’d have seen in a Dreamcast game — but then, that’s all part of Fight Crab’s charm.
If this is all intentional, Calappa was wise not to overplay the humor and let the absurdity of its premise be the joke in and of itself. If this was a dead serious project and Fight Crab is simply a bad game, well, it’s an awfully amusing bad game. The presence of random gadgets like lightsabers and jet thrusters underline that this is the sort of title likely to be as entertaining to spectators as it is to the people actually playing it.
I must confess that I generally find fighting games too technical. While I’ve always wanted a game to “unlock” this genre for me – to translate its language into one that I understand – Fight Crab is accessible for doing the opposite. It brings everyone else down to my level by introducing a control scheme that no human could ever hope to become skilled with. It’s frankly closer to a party game than a fighter.
Is it good? Of course not, and I’m not sure that my conscience allows me to suggest that anyone pay actual money for it. But should it find its way into your library regardless, you can certainly get some good streams out of it.
He was born and raised in Amish country and has yet to escape, despite a brief stint in Philadelphia, where he attended Temple University. He took a one-credit course there called "Career Opportunities for English Majors," which painted a bleak picture for prospective writers. Mike remains steadfast in his ongoing role as a video game critic, however, and has recently written for GamesRadar. Most of his work can be found on HonestGamers, where he has contributed over 200 reviews to date.
When not playing games or writing about them, Mike is a rabid indie music fan and ardent concertgoer. He doesn't read as much as he probably should, but his current favorite author is Alastair Reynolds.