Kill la Kill the Game: IF (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Justin Prinsloo 27.07.2019

Review for Kill la Kill the Game: IF  on Nintendo Switch

Kill la Kill fans were left with an itch that hasn't been scratched since the credits rolled on the last episode of the anime series back in 2014, but now, thanks to developer A+ Games and publisher Arc System Works, more Kill la Kill action comes in the form of this video game tie-in. Kill la Kill the Game: IF is an arena fighter that boasts all of the unmistakable Trigger flair, from art style to subject matter. This is the title fans have been waiting for: an arena fighter with some of the most popular characters from the series.

Right from the get-go, it's clear who this game was intended for. Published by Arc System Works, who have an undeniable diamond eye when it comes to fighting games (their catalogue includes the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue games, as well as the recent Dragon Ball FighterZ), Kill la Kill the Game: IF is something of a love letter to Kill la Kill fans, and for anyone who loved the anime, there's a lot to love here as well. Unfortunately, it's this demographic targeting that may lead the experience to fall flat for those who aren't familiar with the raunchy world of Kill la Kill.

IF's very brief story mode centres around Ryuko, Satsuki and co., all of whom are students at the colossal Honnouji Academy. The Elites at Honnouji have established their dominance by virtue of their magical outfits called Goku Uniforms, which bestow superhuman skill upon the wearer. Ryuko and Satsuki, formerly enemies, must unite in order to take down a new evil that lurks below ground and aims to subjugate humankind to its control with Life Fibres - a cosmic material that the Goku Uniforms are made from.

Sound outlandish? That's the appeal of Trigger's successful anime series. To newcomers it may be somewhat overwhelming, and this is not alleviated at all in its oddly paced story mode. There's very little in the way of exposition to welcome Kill la Kill virgins into the fold, and they will subsequently find themselves victims of a very disjointed narrative experience steeped in fanservice that may go over their heads. There is a glossary in the main menu that explains some of the world's more convoluted terms and phrases, but the breakneck pace of the story assumes the player understands the subtext for everything that is going on. This greatly hinders the experience and will be quite frustrating to Kill la Kill newbies, no matter how solid they may find the core gameplay.

Screenshot for Kill la Kill the Game: IF  on Nintendo Switch

Undeniably, though, the world of Kill la Kill holds charm, and this is not hindered by a convoluted story in the slightest. The unmistakable animation style is here, as is the harsh and often graphic tone and subject matter. Some of the anime's trademark humour manages to sneak in as well. Those who aren't familiar with the finer points of the lore may still find themselves enamoured by what the aesthetic has going for it, but what it will likely come down to in the long run is how well the game plays.

Simply put, the gameplay is solid. The cast is very small for a fighting game, boasting only eight combatants, but this is forgivable because each fighter feels very distinct. The basic controls are fairly straightforward: characters can block, dodge and perform a homing dash on the opponent. There are three main types of attack: melee, ranged and guard break, and they can all be mixed into combos. Each character has three special attacks linked to each attack type. These use a portion of the SP gauge to perform, but the SP gauge is also used to power up a maximum of three times, the third of which grants an ultra-attack that deals massive damage. Tying these mechanics to the SP gauge ensures careful management throughout a match - carelessly using a special attack instead of committing to powering up can be costly in the long run.

Where the variety comes in is where each of the eight characters perform all these actions very differently. Ryuko, for example, is a very fast character with some strong melee attacks but weak range, while Ragyo has very slow ground movement but can surprise opponents by suddenly closing the distance with a quick dash, or with a long-range attack that can be chained into her swift melee moves. These are just two examples; all the characters are distinct with largely differing playstyles. Fighting game veterans will relish learning a character that fits their playstyle, while more casual players will find joy in the character variety as well.

Screenshot for Kill la Kill the Game: IF  on Nintendo Switch

It's a pity that more of the characters can't be used in the story mode - only Ryuko and Satsuki are playable here. They only have 10 chapters each, and some of those are literally just cut-scenes with no fights whatsoever, so the entire experience can be completed in less than a day. Granted, fighting game story modes aren't renowned for their gushing content, but it's difficult not to feel let down after Mortal Kombat 11 set the bar so high in this regard.

Even though the battles in story mode have some welcome variety, the experience is just too short to warrant much interest. A+ Games were obviously dead set on everyone playing through it because literally everything is locked behind this mode. Even the practice and casual versus modes can't be played until clearing certain chapters in the story, and the same goes for online matchmaking. Locking content behind story mode is not an unwelcome move, but this is typically reserved for characters and cosmetics, not the other 90% of the experience. It's a strange decision and will frustrate those who have no interest in the story, but luckily the mode is short enough to not be too much of a hassle to complete.

There are some niggles and annoyances, though - some battles charge the player with fighting multiple enemies, which in turn causes the camera to go a little wonky as it attempts to target the bulk of them at once. This can annoyingly lead to some slip ups in the heat of battle. Furthermore, a more general issues is that the combo lists for each character are unnecessarily complex and would surely benefit from being streamlined.

Screenshot for Kill la Kill the Game: IF  on Nintendo Switch

Along with the story mode is the gallery mode in which characters from the game can be arranged into dioramas. Digital figures of each character are unlocked through gameplay and alternate poses/expressions can be purchased for GP, a currency that is awarded simply through playing the game. There is also a voice library with soundbites from the game's main characters which is little more than an amusing gimmick. More substantial is the game's soundtrack which can be purchased track by track with GP. There are a few good tracks but many become repetitive over time.

The multiplayer modes are where Kill la Kill: IF is likely to hold the majority of its player base's interest. The game controls only make use of the Switch's bumper buttons which of course means that couch co-op is viable with individual Joy Cons. It can be a blast to play with friends, attempting to overthrow each character with their weakest match up. Unfortunately, the small cast shows its cracks here, but it is nevertheless very fun thanks to the solid gameplay and depth of the combat mechanics. A prominent issue, though, is the lack of a two-player training mode, which means that playing with friends amounts to either spending time learning characters individually while the other player twiddles their thumbs, or diving in headlong and figuring things out as the walloping unfolds.

Online modes consist of casual player matches and ranked modes, neither of which have been explored fully enough for this review given that the version experienced initially was an early access one, when the player base was limited. It will be interesting to see how the meta unfolds and whether the character variety alone will be enough to sustain the player base in the long term, but first impressions are positive. This is where the game will either live or die, but the core gameplay is definitely fun enough to warrant experiencing. An absence of more modes and characters hampers the game a lot, though. Many players may find it difficult to justify the full retail price tag, but diehard Kill la Kill fans are sure to find a lot to enjoy.

Screenshot for Kill la Kill the Game: IF  on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Kill la Kill the Game: IF has fun gameplay and a very appealing visual style, but it is let down by its inaccessible story mode and lack of content to incentivise prolonged play. The small cast of characters is forgivable because of how unique and fun each one is to play, but it's difficult to justify buying this at the full retail price when it runs so light on content. Nevertheless, the fanservice and unmistakable Kill la Kill flair is likely to delight fans, but aside from a few amusing unlockables in the gallery mode, there is little to sustain them beyond playing online.

Developer

A+ Games

Publisher

Arc System Works

Genre

Fighting

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date 26.07.2019   North America release date 26.07.2019   Japan release date 25.07.2019   Australian release date 26.07.2019   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Ofisil

There are 1 members online at the moment.