Theme and What is it?
The billionaire, Biff Bennett, has invited you to participate in a fighting tournament on his personal yacht located somewhere in the Pacific. Fighters from all over the world have gathering to compete for lavish prizes and brawler fame. You have worked your whole life to prove you are the strongest fighter in the world!
Combo Fighter is a fast-paced fighting game that is designed to replicate classic arcade fighters.
Each player selects a fighter. Fighters have unique strengths and fighting powers that can be triggered during a match. The match takes place over a number of rounds until one fighter is knocked out. In order to knock out an opponent, a player must empty the other player’s deck of cards and then deal a final blow. Each round involves players playing an initial card that can be from the following move sets: attack moves, defense moves and footwork moves. Players select one of these cards from their hand and play them simultaneously. The cards are resolved based on a circular flow. Defense defeats attack – attack defeats footwork – footwork defeats defense. If both players use the same card type, damage is resolved by the highest value of the card. Depending on how the cards resolve, a player deals damage to the other player and is allowed to play combos. Combos chain off from the first card and each additional card played. Once a damage total is determined, the player who receives the damage must discard that many cards. They can discard from either their hard or from the top of their deck. This round by round fighting continues until a player has reached the bottom of their deck. At the bottom is a stagger card. This means that if they take another point of damage, then they are knocked out and lose.
I grew up on the classic arcade fighters like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. When I first saw a demo of Combo Fighter, I knew that I needed to try it. The game moves very quickly. Players are always playing simultaneously so there is no down time for any one. Some people may complain because there is a very high level of luck involved. You never really know what card type the other player is going to lay down so you are usually guessing and hoping your card will beat their card. There is strategy in the fact that you have to figure out how to play combo moves once a hit has occurred. You have to guess what the best card is to play, and then make sure you can combo off of that card if it is a hit. You deal maximum damage with combos. I didn’t mind the luck element. There is a level of bluffing and trying to read the other player when you are making your decisions. It can be very entertaining and the game moves so fast it can be challenging to get a read on them. For me Combo Fighter recreated the arcade feel for the table.
Game Build Quality
The quality is very nice. There is not anything negative to talk about here. The game is lots of cards and a few player mats, which are a card stock. If you sleeve your cards you will sleeve these. Not that they need them, but if you like to sleeve stuff you might as well sleeve these.
There is a classic arcade feel to the artwork. It does not copy any particular style. I feel like it takes some from many different games but does a great job making it feel fresh and unique. There is plenty of original graphic design all through the game. Players have their own deck with unique moves and artwork. Special attention was paid to the fighter’s abilities and that attention really comes out in the art. You become more involved with the game because the art pulls you in and lets you feel like you are right there laying a beat down on the other player. I would say that the art completes the game and helps it feel fast paced.
The charm of Combo Fighter comes in the fast pace action and stringing together combos to crush your opponents. Unlike some of the classic arcade fighters where superior players can crush their opponents and not even break a sweat, Combo Fighter has a built-in equalizer. In order to perform combos, players have to play multiple cards, which are essentially their life count. To do a six damage, combo players have to play four cards. The player performing the combo only nets two lives from this. Every action is like this. I can play a card that deals two damage, but I still used a card so I netted only one life that round. This keeps the games close and all the games we played were very close. There was never a blowout. That makes the games exciting.
Age Range & Weight
Combo Fighter is rated a 9+ game. There is strategy involved with trying to prepare moves that will produce combos, but this can be a fairly easy part of the game once players know what to do. I would say that younger players should have fun with the game and might hold their own once they can understand the game play. The only thing may be exposing young ones to some comical violence. The game does not have any graphic violence involved. Just implied comic style violence through the art on the cards.
I am always on the look-out for games that work well for two players. Combo Fighter was designed for that environment. It can play with more players, but you are just adding to the basic two player model. Combo Fighter is fast and brutal. Because of the damage system, the game is always close and can go either direction based on cards played. It makes for a fun game that has tons of replay value. Once you taste victory you will crave more and if you are on the losing end you will want revenge. Sound familiar? We all experienced these same feelings as we shoved quarters into machines at our favorite arcades. Now we can experience it again in a different format and with a game that does an amazing job capturing that classic vibe.