First Impressions on Icons: Combat Arena

What do you think of Icons: Combat Arena?

Literally everything about this game looks bad.

The name is bad, coming off as generic or misleading. The characters aren’t iconic, they’re unknown. The name doesn’t sell the unique premise of the game or stand out in any way.

The character designs are bad, looking like bargain bin MOBA characters. The only one that stands out as being distinctive or identifiable to me is The Kidd and I dislike the way he looks. They lack personality and a big part of making a fighting game appealing to people is giving the characters personality.

The sound effects are weak, sounding like someone punched a pillow while wearing mittens. The particle effects are lacking, using the same hitspark for practically everything. Attacks don’t seem to have any hitstop, especially not smash style hitstop where the character will vibrate for a bit before being sent outwards.

The animations are especially bad. They have extremely weak or non-existent anticipation phases, and almost no followthrough. The biggest problem is just that the posing is weak and not exaggerated nearly enough. The lack of hitstop doesn’t help. Most motions just go straight from A to B with no breakdown or anticipation, sort of just popping into place. People tend to underestimate the amount of exaggeration you actually need to make an animation look impactful.

As for the moveset design, I’m seeing Fox, Captain Falcon, Ganondorf, Marth, and an original character. If the game is just going to be practically a carbon copy of melee but worse, why the hell would anyone play it?

This is the problem with Smash Clones. Smash Bros is an extremely detailed game, in every facet of it. It has detailed models, animations, mechanics, sound effects, and more. Smash Clones don’t put in the work to recreate all of that. They don’t put in the work to develop new systems that have as much detail as smash’s systems. There’s a ton of traditional fighting games out there, and they all have very different plays on what you can do with that control scheme and game mode. We have a few smash clones, a few platform fighters, and they all have very samey plays on smash mechanics, with a little extra. Rivals is smash except without grabs, with parries, and no ledge, plus ridiculously broken recovery. Brawlout is smash with no blocking of any kind. PSASBR is smash except no DI, and only supers kill.

If Smash Bros is Street Fighter, then we’re not seeing KoF, we’re not seeing Guilty Gear, we’re not seeing Marvel 3, we’re not seeing Samurai Shodown. Smash Clones aren’t very good at copying smash and they aren’t very good at making their own appeal. Project M got all this stuff right, but it also inherited a lot of its backbone from Brawl.

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