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Believe it or not, there is a lot more to the fighting game genre than just what Capcom has to offer. I’ve been having a blast with Divekick, for example, but what other fighting games can you enjoy for only ten bucks? Well, there’s Girl Fight, a title developed by Kung Fu Factory that you can find on Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade and on PS3 via the PlayStation Network. This review looks at the Xbox version, but the PlayStation title should be pretty much identical.

It’s About to Be a Girl Fight

Let’s start with the basic premise. As you can probably surmise based on the title, Girl Fight is a fighting game wherein all of the combatants are female. You can tell that they are trying to play up the sex appeal here. There are eight core characters who engage in one-on-one, hand-to-hand combat in a 3D space similar to what you’d experience with Virtua Fighter or Tekken.

This is quite different from the also female-focused Skullgirls in that the character models are rendered in 3D, rather than having a hand-drawn anime appearance. The female fighters are tossed into some sort of government facility where they are plugged intoa virtual world, fighting for some sort of unknown goal.

Enter the 3D Battle Arena

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As mentioned, you could say that the control scheme in Girl Fight is akin to what you’d find in Tekken, Soul Calibur (minus the weapons) or Virtua Fighter. You have a punch button, a kick button, a throw/grab button, and a defense button, plus two buttons for your Psi Amp abilities, which I will further describe in just a moment.

There aren’t any “special moves” in the conventional sense, but the characters are equipped with combos of varying complexity. You can move around in the 3D space, but there is “ring out” mechanic. Instead, there is an invisible wall at the boundaries of the stages where the characters will bounce off if hit in that direction. With the right hits, your opponent can also enter a helpless “stagger” stance for your pummeling pleasure. For my part, I found that I just mashed on the buttons most of the time and it did the job.

When you lack much in terms of what could be deemed special moves and the characters themselves feel very generic in nature, the combatants all start to blur together. You don’t get a real sense of differentiation like you do in better fighting games, resulting in a rather shallow overall experience. It also doesn’t help that you only start out with one character (Warchild) for arcade mode and you have to unlock the other seven.

Psi Amp Power-Up Abilities

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Getting beyond the punches and kicks, you can equip your character with up to two Psi Amp abilities. You start off with a basic set and then you can use the in-game Combits currency to purchase more. Combits are earned by executing moves, winning matches, and other achievements. The Combits can also be spent on bios, artwork, and alternate costumes.

It would have added far more depth to the game if the Psi Amp abilities were individualized to each character. Instead, they all apply to all characters. There is a Psi Amp where you can regenerate health based on the damage you get on your opponent. There’s another one where your character is lit ablaze, dishing out additional damage for a certain period of time. There’s yet another where you slam the ground in an energy wave.

In battle, you activate one of your two Psi Amp abilities by pressing the corresponding button. Much like Super Street Fighter IV or Divekick, you build “meter” with your attacks and the Psi Amp can only be used when you’ve reached a certain level.

Hitting the Online Competition

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You get your usual ranked and player matches for online play in Girl Fight, but they added in the extra dynamic of a wager system. You can wager that you’ll accomplish certain things in the match and, if successful, you get rewarded with more Combits.

And so, I whipped out my trusty Eightarc Fusion Synthesis and prepared for online battle. Then, I waited. And waited. Not surprisingly, there aren’t too many people with this game, so I wasn’t able to test out the online net code. If you want to play another human, you’ll need to do it locally.

MEGATechie Crazy Combatants or MEGATechie Mashing Mess?

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Remember in the middle part of the 1990s when it seemed like every company was trying to cash in on the craze started by Street Fighter II? Some real gems resulted from that development, like Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat, but we were hit with a lot of easily forgettable stinkers too.

We’re not quite hitting the same kind of fighting game tidal wave today, but you can easily place Girl Fight into that latter category for the modern generation. There is no depth to the gameplay, the characters are generically identical and the graphics feel like they belong in the previous generation. If you’ve got $9.99 burning in your pocket and you must have a fighting game, pick up Divekick instead… or better yet, dive back into the classics and get something like Third Strike or even the updated Soulcalibur II HD Online when it hits XBLA and PSN later this month.

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