The First Rule Of Fight Crab Is You Don’t Talk About Fight Crab
Fight Crab is, without question, the strangest game I’ve ever played in my entire life. And let me tell you, I’ve played some pretty weird stuff over the past three decades. Developed by Mastiff, Fight Crab is an arena fighter perhaps best compared to Sega’s Virtual On. However, instead of piloting nimble mechs in adrenaline-pumping one-on-one battles, you control giant crustacean gladiators that handle like chitin-encrusted Studebakers driven by drunken toddlers.
But don’t let that dissuade you. Much like British indie dev Boneloaf’s delightfully demented physics-based brawler Gangbeasts, what Fight Crab lacks in elegance, it makes up for with a veritable fisherman’s feast of crustaceous calamity. It’s a deep dive into destruction, where two-story-tall lobsters go guns akimbo with massive revolvers, and noble carrier crabs pummel their opponents with uprooted palm trees as the city crumbles around them.
If I haven’t made myself clear by now, Fight Crab is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. And honestly, it’s all the better for it. It’s a game about wrestling giant enemy crabs for massive damage, after all. But does it pack enough meat in its claws to keep you coming back for more? Let’s crack open the shell and find out!
Ain’t No Laws When You’re Cracking Claws
Believe it or not, Fight Crab doesn’t exactly pack an engaging narrative to tie the claw-clashing action together. I know, crazy, right? Here’s the long and short of it: you’re a snow crab on a mission to tour the world and flip other crabs onto their cold, damp backs. That’s all there is to it. It’s a barebones premise for sure, but you can’t say the game doesn’t manage to live up to its name.
Battles unfold a bit like those in Super Smash Bros. As you beat the bubbles out of your enemies, be it with claws or massive rockets strapped to your powerful pincers, their damage percentage will increase. And once a crab has become sufficiently damaged, it becomes easier to flip onto its back. If you can keep them down for three seconds, you win the bout – easy peasy.
The beauty of Fight Crab is just how over-the-top it is. The first stage starts simply enough as you go crab leg-to-crab leg against your average crustaceans. However, the next mission plops you into the heart of a metropolis as you climb buildings and hurl cars to topple colossal coconut crabs and lofty lobsters in a showdown straight out of a Kaiju flick.
It only gets crazier from here there, too. A medieval great hall plays host to a duel against an Excalibur-wielding King Crab, and desert battlefield tasks you not only with cracking the shells of the competition but also avoiding battle tanks that cruise around the arena as they pepper your carapace with depleted uranium.
Like I said: it’s pure madness. But this chaos is exactly what makes Fight Crab‘s melees so incredibly satisfying.
Hell In The Shell
As you amass a bushel of beatdowns in Fight Crab, you’ll earn prize money. These gill-gotten gains can be spent at the shop between rounds to purchase various guns, knives, maces, and other shell-smashing weaponry to help even the odds. Hell, you can even spend your winnings to live out your Medieval Times fantasies as you joust your adversaries from atop a resplendent baby seal. No, I’m not kidding. And yes, it’s just as incredible as it sounds.
Additionally, you can use your funds to level up up your crab’s stats, and even unlock 23 types of playable crabs to control. These range from longarm crabs that can box their foes from an impressive distance to towering carrier crabs that dominate the battlefield with their massive, spindly frames.
While I wouldn’t venture so far as to call Fight Crab a deep experience, the game’s level of customization honestly surprised me. Upgrading my stable of crabs, boosting their stats, and equipping limbs with various weapons took me back to the days of customizing my mechs in developer FromSoftware’s Armored Core series many moons ago. It was a surprising, albeit very welcome feeling that I didn’t expect to get from a game about pugilistic seafood. So hats off to developer Calappa Games for keeping this reviewer on his toes.
A Multiplayer Feeding Frenzy
Fight Crab‘s campaign offers a captain’s catch of 7 chapters spread across 34 stages. From start to finish, it’s an absolute blast. However, the most fun I had with the game has to be its multiplayer mayhem.
Fight Crab allows two players to clash claws in local split-screen play. I had a tremendous amount of fun outfitting my crab for war like a soft-shelled John Rambo to duke it out against human competition across the game’s zany selection of stages. Whether I was tossing my opponents from tables to their demise in a Chinese restaurant or into the path of a speeding train, every match resulted in gut-busting laughter. No doubt about it, Fight Crab is the Switch’s new party game to beat.
In addition to versus play, Fight Crab also features a co-op mode. Here, up to two players can claw their way across the game’s campaign. It’s a welcome addition to the package for sure. It’s just shame that, unlike the game’s versus play, co-op is relegated entirely to online play. So if you want to flip CPU-controlled crabs with a friend, you’re going to need two copies of the game and two Switch consoles to live out your dreams of taking on the world as the Dungeness Duo.
Chitin & Dangerous
If you couldn’t tell, I had a tremendous amount of fun during my time with Fight Crab. But that’s not to say it’s perfect. Whether using a Pro Controller or the game’s Joy-Con motion controls, controlling your crab never feels especially responsive as you lumber across the arena. Of course, crabs aren’t exactly famous for their agility. But maneuvering your crab has all the finesse of playing tag with tugboats in a sea of molasses.
Now, usually, this would drive me up the walls in a fighting game. However, much like the Gangbeasts mentioned above, the cumbersome calamity almost adds to the experience. After all, this isn’t a game about pinpoint precision; it’s a game about mud-sucking sea-spiders causing chaos wherever they go. And to that end, it succeeds brilliantly.
When I first fired up Fight Crab, I expected a gimmicky brawler that would be good for a few laughs and quickly wear out its welcome. Lucky for me, that wasn’t the case at all. It’s a feature-rich romp with enough meat in its shell to satisfy the most discerning gilled gladiators. With a surprisingly lengthy campaign, addicting multiplayer, and plenty of customization options, it’s a game that will keep you coming back for more. If you’re fishing for a quirky, physics-based title in the spirit of Gangbeasts or Human: Fall Flat, then look no further. Fight Crab is an absolute keeper.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Switch (Reviewed), PS4, PC; Publisher: Mastiff; Developer: Calappa Games; Number of players: 1-2 players; Released: September 15, 2020; MSRP: $19.99
Full disclosure: The publisher provided a review copy.