I’m not sure what I expected when I played Goonya Fighter for the first time; going in blind, except for seeing screenshots, I had no idea of the hilarity that awaited me.
Goonya Fighter has a Minecraft-esque voxel aesthetic applied to its fighting game shenanigans, but – somewhat unexpectedly, for me at least – also applies deliberately wobbly ragdoll physics to the in-game characters. Control of your fighter is therefore a little unpredictable, but this is entirely intentional – and part of the game’s odd charm.
Upon starting the game, you’re presented with a menu that comes with a decent array of options, including a robust story mode. The story mode is a great place to hone your awkward ragdoll fighter skills; plus, you’ll unlock multiplayer arenas and characters by playing through this mode too.
Though there is a story, it’s basic (rescue female character, Pudding!) – and this is just an excuse to have you taking on different challenges across some nicely designed arenas. There are environmental hazards – these can be fatal, though you do have a chance to struggle back to land if you do find yourself submerged in a waterlogged or quicksand covered area – to contend with, as well as AI fighters. The AI fighters tend to struggle a bit less to stay upright than a human controlled player will, but they do still flail around hilariously. Knocking them out or sending them flying off the arena, as is often the objective, is incredibly satisfying and always amusing. There’s a lot to like here – even before we talk about the multiplayer modes.
Multiplayer battle modes are where you’ll have the most fun. Hand out the joycons to a few friends, start the battle mode and watch as everyone starts hammering the attack buttons before falling over within seconds. Everyone will be shouting and swearing at the TV and each other – and it’s glorious. Couch co-op/multiplayer is frequently cited as being dead or missing (seriously, the number of people I see on social media who say they miss it – when there are lots of great examples available, even in new games – is incredible), yet here’s another fantastic example of it on Switch. It’s chaotic and can, at times, be a little frustrating – but it’s undoubtedly a fantastic experience. Though very different in terms of mechanics, it has a very Bomberman-esque feel in terms of the ‘controlled chaos’ you’ll experience with four players.
The learning curve is gentle – unless you count keeping your fighter stable as something you have to get to grips with – so it’s a game that almost anyone can simply pick up and participate in. Modes such as coin battles and races add different ways to play than simple battles – and even the battles themselves can be played in teams, to even the odds against stronger players and give more inexperienced fighters a chance.
There’s an online multiplayer option too, as well as the option to play through Story Mode with a second player (which is a really fun way to play). The options screen also mentions a ‘Laboratory’ as coming soon, though at this stage I’m not sure what that is.
The biggest sticking point I have with Goonya Fighter is, unfortunately, the price – which does seem somewhat high, especially at first glance in the eShop – but having played through quite a bit of the game, it’s clear that there’s an awful lot of content included. It’s also important to consider here that there are very few eShop indies with such a riotously fun multiplayer component. I’ve been obsessed with multiplayer Bomberman since the early 90s, and Goonya Fighter is one of the few games that comes close to that level of fun and accessibility – coming from me, I can assure you that’s high praise indeed.
There’s definitely a lot to like here; from the vividly colourful visuals to the unique, blocky characters (and their wobbly antics) in multiplayer or singleplayer mode, along with its open, hazard filled arenas; imagine playing Power Stone with characters so drunk they’re in danger of falling over if they get too animated. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you should certainly give Goonya Fighter a try.
Many thanks to MUTAN Inc. for providing the Goonya Fighter key for review.
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