Review: Fight Crab

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This game was selected as our August 2020 Reader’s Choice Review. Learn more on our Patreon page.

Nature has many ways to warn outsiders of danger. It could be a dog baring its teeth, a lion roaring through the jungle, or a crab the size of a battleship waving around a battle axe. In most cases, these natural warnings are answered with backing away slowly, but for that last one, you’ll want to respond with your own giant crab and lightsabers, or possibly guns. That’s the premise of Fight Crab, a colorful, chaotic brawler that pits crabs from all walks of the infraorder Brachyura against each other in brutal combat. Between the wild weapons, the bizarre locales, and the absolutely insane escalation of the campaign, this hard-shelled brawler promises plenty of fun within its notably narrow scope.

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Surely you didn’t come to a game called Fight Crab looking for a story, and indeed all you’re going to get here are vague allusions to becoming the king of all crabs. That’s accomplished by beating the bajeezus out of any crustaceans in your path, of course, through a series of battles strung together into a campaign. From tidepools to avenues, restaurants to freezer cases, you’ll face every variety of crab imaginable and then some, armed with knives, clubs, swords, shuriken, flails, rockets, shotguns, and more. Your battles are not to the death, but until you or your challengers lie helpless on your backs, and proceed until you have bested the true king of crabs in fantastic fashion. To explain any further would be to spoil the awe-inspiring conclusion of your journey, so instead we’ll talk about the road to becoming the crustiest crustacean around.

I wouldn’t call Fight Crab a full QWOPlike, but the controls are definitely designed more for pratfalls than precision. The analogue sticks on your gamepad control your crab’s claws, with the triggers extending that claw to strike and the shoulder buttons clenching them to block. With skilled maneuvering you can perform uppercuts, parry blows, and grapple your foe, but for the first few hours you’re just going to be flailing wildly and hoping you land more lucky hits than the enemy does. It’s honestly a pretty deep and detailed combat system that can be mastered, and will require a bit of prowess to get you to the end of the campaign. But it’s also plenty of fun to swing wildly at crabs, pick up beer bottles and smash enemies off of dinner tables, and generally just stomp around like a big angry crab with a katana.

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There’s a surprising number of weapons and wieldable… things in the game, which can be found in stages, taken from your foes, or purchased between battles to carry into combat with you. Weapons get fanciful real quick, with legendary weapons like Excalibur or some JRPG favorites appearing alongside more conventional nunchaku and guandao. The money used to buy weapons can also unlock new crabs to play as, each with their own stats and capabilities, and then to level those stats up for the more difficult later battles. You’ll even gain super moves in your journey, special techniques that borrow from the likes of Dragon Ball in the best possible ways. Helpful tutorials unlock alongside your new capabilities, concisely educating you in the ways of energy beams and divine blessings.

The sum of these parts is a thrilling, hilarious brawler that goes beyond the obvious hilarity of the screenshots. I had a genuine blast battling through the campaign, and the final fights were exactly what you think of when you apply the term “epic” to this outing. The charm of flailing around with giant, deadly crabs never really gets old, but the content does rather run out of steam after you beat the campaign only two or three hours in. From that point you can work on the blisteringly hard Extra stages, try to beat the campaign again on hard, or try to find someone in the world to play online matches with you. It’s a real crime that Fight Crab didn’t take off as the next big esport phenomenon, but regardless of the injustice done, I wouldn’t pick this one up for the multiplayer.

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If you were a fan of Ace of Seafood or any other sort of off-kilter battler out of Japan, you’ll definitely enjoy Fight Crab. It’s a more polished and engrossing package than Ace or its predecessors, though I won’t deny the placeholder-looking UI is still a thing here. This one ends up being far more viscerally entertaining than other games of its ilk, but just for not a terribly long time. A bigger campaign or more game modes would have given Fight Crab longer legs, but the time you spend with it is still guaranteed to be quality. Really, I know you’ve always wanted to have a katana duel with a spider crab in a shadowy alley, and it’s not like you can look anywhere else for that kind of magic.

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