It genuinely almost feels like the title of this game could sum up its entire review.
Fight Crab is a game where you…fight crabs. As a crab. Strap on your claws, step into the arena and pin your opponent on their back to win – like if Televised Wrestling was populated by spindly shellfish. The twist comes from the fact that the world of Fight Crab seems to suggest that size doesn’t matter, humans are absent and crabs can use weapons. Therein lies the genius (and silliness) of the title.
Not to be confused with Red Rock Deli, a delicious brand of chips
It’s a game that leverages the absurdity of its content into the reasonably popular sub-genre of ‘almost impossible to control’ combat styles, in the vein of titles like Human: Fall Flat or even the ridiculous QWOP browser game. On paper it comes across as terrible to the point of unplayable – but in practice it ends up being this wildcard series of actions that run the gamut between ‘totally meant to do that’ and ‘not my fault, it’s the controls – honestly’. It also levels a playing field where skill level is less about finesse in controls, and more about reading a situation well enough that you react properly and prosper. What I am saying is, the crabs control like garbage, but it’s okay because it’s on purpose.
So waving your claws around via your control sticks, and snip-snapping via the triggers are the raison d’être of your pinchy pal – now you need to figure out how to get your opponent (or opponents) on their back. This is where you need to consider your environment and maybe even your weapons. An uneven surface (like a city street littered with cars) can do a lot to get you under them to flip them, or perhaps slamming a morning star into their side will also dislodge them. Yeah, I said morning star – and the best part is that item is on the tame side of the game’s weaponry.
Your long-arm style is no match for my PALM TREE STRIKE
Leaning further into the madcap theme of the game, you can actually end up wielding all manner of deadly devices, from knives to guns to literal rockets strapped to your crabby clamps. Activate rockets to blast yourself into your opponent, or slam a claw into their soft underbelly and fire your revolver to up their damage counter, a percentage-based weakness dial that is basically the same as the Smash Bros equivalent (the higher the number the more likely that target is likely to flip over). This is the nature of strategy within the game, as you lurch across the battlefield with limbs flailing and work to find your opening to capitalise.
Two-person crab power bombs are yours to enjoy…if you can somehow finagle the rebellious controls in your favour
The battlefields themselves deserve their own mention. Initially you are fighting in fairly modest rock pools and perhaps even the sea bed – but throughout the game’s narrative campaign you will soon find yourself on dinner tables, in medieval halls and even at a fish market. One particular arena sees our crab friends fighting on a city street – only the crabs are kaiju sized and can throw cars at each other. The silliness just ramps up and up, to the point where tearing a palm tree out of the ground and slapping a lobster with it feels almost pedestrian.
A BROADSWORD? That’s not very clawsome of you
Even the crabs themselves have this incredible variety of dutifully recreated cyber crustaceans, and I was amazed that I was so familiar with many of them. Generic little scuttle buddies, like the Christmas Island red crab are your run-of-the-mill fighter, like a Ken or a Ryu – whereas more unique offerings like the coconut crab or the Japanese spider crab have such unique anatomies that their fight style will be an entirely different beast. Lofty long limbs, claws that are incredibly close together – the idea of someone crunching the numbers and creating tier lists for the game’s combatants tickles me greatly. It’s just so fantastically dumb.
Hilariously, the game actually offers online matchmaking to make sure you can always test your crusty-mettle against other exoskeleton enthusiasts. I can’t even fault the netcode – every desperate attempt I made against my opponents felt believable and responsive. And there are even a number of local-multiplayer options to enjoy some couch-crab co-op action, with 2v2 battles featured to up the pseudo-wrestling angle into a true tag-team tussle. Two-person crab power bombs are yours to enjoy…if you can somehow finagle the rebellious controls in your favour.
It’s no masterpiece, but in it’s particularly niche genre of GIANT CRAB BATTLE GAMES it shines as an example of a water-cooler idea turned into a silly smash-up of epic proportions. Explaining its concept to your mates may return a cocked head and a concerned expression – but get them at the helm of one of the crabs and they are extremely likely to have a good time.
While Fight Crab may not earn a spot at EVO or garner its own esport league (a crime, really), it definitely fits into that ideal spot of being a great time with friends, and will likely generate tons of amazing Twitch streams and YouTube highlight videos.
Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher