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The Idol Showdown Fan-Made Fighting Game Is A Huge Love Letter To The Culture
Genre: 2D fighting game with Vtubers and the nonsense/memes that follow
Besto Games Team has created the perfect stopgap game before Street Fighter 6: a 2D fighting game called Idol Showdown. And it only costs you free-ninety-nine!
The premise is simple: pick one VTuber from the eight-person roster and duke it out best 2 out of 3. The fighting game feel and mechanics are a mish-mash of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Guilty Gear, since auto-combos are a thing and you can select one Assist (another Vtuber) to do special assist attacks and buffs.
All this is accompanied by an easy-to-follow input system and intuitive controls that mixes both traditional and modern-style inputs. You have four attack buttons, you can pull off specials easily by pressing the S button and also perform motion inputs (236P and so forth), and you can do simple combos and cancels to keep your offense going. It’s easy to get into, though hard to master as everyone’s got at least a long-string combo for big damage. Anyone from your casual players to your experts in “doing a f***ing infinite” will feel right at home with Idol Showdown’s control scheme and versus gameplay.
The eight characters in the roster have their own quirks, playstyles, and sets of beautiful animations that fit in a 2D fighting setting. Inugami Korone is a shoto (projectile, anti-air, horizontal special, beginner-friendly methodology), Kiryu Coco is a traditional grappler, and Aki Rosenthal is a zoner with her own “get off me” assists.
Most importantly, it’s all a treat to watch and witness thanks to the lovely art direction and presentation on display. Besto Games Team spared no expense and time in making this a 2D pixel feast for the eyes, paying tribute to each VTuber’s style of presenting/singing and working it in their specials and Super moves.
That also goes double for the character’s assists, which consists of Vtubers like Amelia Watson and Sakura Miko. And because Besto Games loves its fighting games, they turn Roboco into a Doctor Doom assist and give Amelia Watson JoJo vampire time-slowing powers. That I can get behind.
There are a few extra modes outside of the standard offline/online versus mode, like training/tutorial, a single-player roguelike mode called Virtual Frontier, and Arcade mode. The Virtual Frontier is where you’ll spend time a bit more than usual: you pick your character and go through 3 Acts with various stages and trials like defeating foes in a time limit or a super-powered armoured VTuber.
You can buy items and find them in your journey to add more passive abilities to help you out, as well as accumulate items you can use in fights like power boosts and life-leeching. Shops and resting spots are available on each path, and it’s up to you to decide which ones to take before proceeding, so planning your route to get to the end is important. This mode gets really challenging in Act 2 onward, so you’ll need to stock up on items to bolster your character for big major fights. Don’t be too shocked if you end up failing and retrying this mode for hours on end, reaching so close to the finish line only to get steamrolled by a jacked-up Sora who has unlimited items & life drain.
So far, the only wrinkle in this free game project is the online mode, which is still in beta. Despite featuring rollback, disconnects for online play are pretty frequent to the point where I had to use tools like Parsec to play online with friends. I do have some decent matches with not much lag, but this mode is still in beta form. I presume this is a snag the dev team will fix and improve over time. A few additions like auto-close lobbies, public lobbies with more than 2 players, and queue functions would be good ideas to make online a lot more feasible in the coming months or even years.
Thankfully, the rest of this love-laboured package more than makes it up. In fact, you don’t even need to be a huge fan of the Vtuber culture to appreciate and have fun with this free 2D fighting game that’s putting a lot of triple-A US$69.90 games to shame in this day and age.
I only know a fraction of the culture; this is mostly relegated to clips of Kiryu Coco simping over Yakuza/Like A Dragon characters and Rushia’s “boing boing” tirade. However, with the way this game is going and possibly having expansion plans beyond its eight-person roster, I might end up a full-on convert.
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