Developed by Kung Fu Factory, Girl Fight is a 3D fighting game which features a roster comprised of only skimpily dressed women. With a name like Girl Fight, it’s quite the difficult task to remain completely neutral in playing this game, which others would immediately brush off as offensive and even misogynistic, but at the end of the day, a video game should be reviewed mostly on the gameplay itself rather than any glitz and glam that it throws your way.
The game centres around The Foundation, a greedy and twisted scientific organization that abducts the cast in hopes of experimenting with their psionic abilities. Plugged into a virtual reality known as The Construct, the warriors must fight their way out in a survival of the fittest type tournament in the hopes of returning to reality.
Design-wise, each character looks and feels different, a feature that all fighting games should have. Even though most of the cast can only manage a few awkward grunts here and there, they surprisingly have a story to be told, especially through the quick voice-overs of the final boss in between battles where she beckons, taunts, and even bullies you. Furthermore, each stage is made up of images from the respective fighter’s psyche, a neat little bit of polish that adds personality to this seemingly shallow game.
Continuing on the design, the most praise I can give is the overall style and slickness of Girl Fight. It feels futuristic, plausible, and consistent, the latter being a term I would have never expected myself to use. In addition to the voice-over in between battles – which is sometimes hilariously bad – a zooming bird’s eye view of rendered environments solidifies the concept of creepy surveillance that this game builds itself on. In fact, the design will actually have players feeling something. Feeling what? I’m not quite sure. But it’s a hell of a lot better than feeling nothing.
But let’s talk about gameplay. As I said earlier, there are some pretty great ideas here, but they seem like broken fragments trying to piece themselves together. Movement is pretty much the same as in any other fighting game, but there are questionable decisions for the actual face buttons. One is devoted to punching, one to kicking, one to throwing, and one to blocking. In essence, there are really only two buttons to use. Two! I didn’t have an issue with the disappearance of the default press-back-to-block mechanic, but the fact that throwing takes a whole face button was mind-boggling and lazy on the developer’s part. There’s not much to experiment and fall in love with when you can only find so many combos with two buttons.
I know, you’re probably still wondering where these great ideas are. Well, here they come. As previously stated, these girls all have psionic abilities. When translated into actual gameplay, each player can assign two different abilities that their character can activate in battle once they have enough energy. From healing with every hit to increasing damage with every hit, or turning invisible to creating a giant shockwave which staggers your opponent, these psionic add-ons are quite fun and versatile. Strangely enough, there’s even some strategy involved. Do you wait to activate your ability or do you use it the second it’s available? Knowing your opponent has chosen two heal abilities, do you let go of all defensive instincts and run in like a mad woman? It’s incredible how such a small design element can add so much depth to a game that is severely lacking in the actual fighting department.
As you punch and kick your way through, you’ll be rewarded with Combits, a currency that can be used to purchase new psionic abilities, skins, and art work. With the addition of the shop, it’s clear that Kung Fu Factory wasn’t solely relying on the sex appeal of Girl Fight. There are elements of a strong fighting game here, but perhaps the developers were worried that they would be swallowed up by the competition and resorted to cheap tactics to stand out. After all, a lot of the art work you get from the shop and from beating arcade mode features your character completely nude.
As an avid fighting game player, I’m used to seeing the exploitation of a woman’s body, but that doesn’t make it right in any sense. I understand the need to have at least a few characters who rely on this mechanic, but in this day and age, it should really only be a couple and it should only happen as long as there’s equal opportunity for the male cast as well.
Current gamers are seldom going to rave about anything that is only aesthetically pleasing and shallow in its gameplay, which is what seems to be happening here. As I said earlier, the style of Girl Fight is quite appealing, but the oversight on promising concepts drags it down considerably.
It was a pleasant surprise to find a glimmer of depth in Girl Fight, which isn’t really a surprise now that I think about it. Kung Fu Factory has quite the repertoire when it comes to fighting games (they made a few Mortal Kombat titles) which leads me to believe that they were really just having fun with this one and wanted to put it out there. Either way, I would have loved to have seen what they could have done if they had taken themselves a little more seriously. A fighting game with an all female cast is indeed a staple, but whereas other games excelled at proving substance, Girl Fight just doesn’t hit the mark.
This review is based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game, which we were provided with.
When stripped of its obvious fan service, some genuinely good ideas remain at the core of Girl Fight. However, its developers never managed to bring their brainstorming to its full potential, resulting in a below average experience that many will deem as being misogynistic.