When I saw French-Bread were developing the ludicrously titled Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late[st] (a game which I’ll be referring to as ‘Latest’ for the rest of the review, for the sake of my sanity) I was very excited.
I knew the name from the Melty Blood series, one of my favourite 2D fighters of all time. Their clean, crisp pixel art and smart, deep fighters of the past were fantastic, so I had high hopes going into Latest.
Gameplay & Mutliplayer:
Latest is, as the title may suggest, the latest version of the Under Night In-Birth fighting game series that came out in 2012. Adding in a whole host of balancing tweaks, previous arcade ‘exclusives’, some much needed additional modes and four extra characters, it should be seen as the ultimate version of this game going forwards.
And what a game it is. Much like Melty Blood that came before it, Latest feels like the pinnacle of 2D Fighting games – lightning fast, deceptively deep and unapologetically Japanese, the game is sure to appeal to diehards of a genre subset that doesn’t see much love anymore.
Thankfully, Latest is replete with loads of modes to get the hang of the fighting mechanics and get to grips with every one of the varied fighters. The game comes with a massive tutorial section, and seeing how many lessons were available made my heart sink a little, but luckily there are more hands-on ways to get up to speed with Latest’s various systems. My number one demand for fighting games now is a combo challenge mode: acting as a ‘show, don’t tell’ sort of tutorial, these modes offer up a string of challenging inputs for you to copy and see how combos are formed. Latest has a huge combo challenge mode that allowed me to learn characters in a very engaging and intuitive way, and after an hour in the dojo I was finding who I liked and who I couldn’t stand, which is one of the earliest hurdles in getting used to any fighter.
From big beefy brawlers with giant clawed arms to delicate, ballerina fencers and everything in between, Latest has you covered when you’re picking a character. I really dug the alien-looking Merkava and the whip-using Phonon personally, but you’re likely going to gravitate towards completely different competitors. Overall balance felt good thanks in no small part to constant tweaks over the last six years, and no one felt incompetent or weak. I’m sure there’s a very detailed tier list online that states otherwise, that explains its reasoning with hit boxes, recovery frames, combo potential and other phrases I’m probably using incorrectly, but for me every time I tried a character out they felt viable (and fun!).
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