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Community Report: Them’s Fightin Herds Review

Last year, EVO announced that Under Night In-Birth would be one of the games in their main lineup. I didn’t know this game existed before the EVO announcement, so I had no idea what the game was about. I wasn’t the only one, as many people were disappointed that this “obscure” game would be replacing the extremely popular Super Smash Bros. Melee, which would be absent that year. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t share the same feeling these people had. However, since the game was picked to be in the EVO, I decided to try it out. To my surprise, this once unbeknownst game to me became one of my favorite fighting games.

Now, I find myself in a similar situation with EVO online, which announced four games for its tournament lineup. When I saw Them’s Fightin’ Herds in the roster, I was pleasantly surprised. TFH is a game I have always seen in fighting game events in the past but never had much interest in it. All I knew was that it was a fighting game that used to be a My Little Pony fan project. After seeing the documentary on the game’s development and its announcement in EVO online, I decided to give the game a chance. What I experienced would be another fighting game gem to add to the collection.

TFH is a fast-paced four-button fighting game. Three buttons perform light, medium, and heavy attacks, with one button being the special button. The best part of Them’s Fightin’ Herds is the mechanics that surround every character. All characters have the same command for launchers, anti-airs, and basic combo strings. This allows anyone to easily transition from one character and see which one they like.

Despite every character having similar buttons, each character stands out not only through their special moves but also through their movement options. Characters like Arizona and Paprika can short hop, run, and super. Tianhou can fly, Pom can float in the air, Velvet can slide on the ground after a dash, and Oleander can double jump. These are just a few examples, but every character has there a unique way of moving across the screen making every character and matchup unique as you have to factor not only their moves but also their movement.

Using Tianhuo’s air dash to land a quick overhead

There are only six characters in the roster, but as I mentioned previously, every single one has movements and techniques that are easy to learn, but fun to master. Every character is meticulously well-animated, each oozing with life and personality. Nearly every archetype is covered between these six characters. From the rush down characters like Arizona and Tianhuo to zoners like Oleander and Velvet, there’s something that someone can enjoy. In this case, the game believes in quality over quantity.

The game introduces the magic system, which gives every character a unique ability by pressing the special button and a direction. Each character has a different magic meter that behaves differently throughout the cast. Tianhuo’s quick air dashes compliment her aerial gameplay; Velvet’s zoning amplifies with her ability to shoot fast snowflakes at the enemy using magic; Oleander gains a spell from her book to perform more powerful attacks; all of these elements from the magic meter complement each character and add another layer of depth to the gameplay.

The story mode is a fun distraction from the main game. The story mode has the player controlling Arizona, who is in search of the Prophet’s Key to stop the threat in her world known as Predators. The game’s story mode is a mix of walking across an overworld and exploring caves with occasional fights against the predators. Players can explore nooks and crannies to discover headgear they can wear in online lobbies.

Story Mode Enemies

The mode is fine, there’s a bit of exploration and unique segments that change up the gameplay from what we’re used too. My favorite part of the story mode is the dialogue. There are several easter eggs and interactions with other NPCs that honestly make the story mode funny. The big downside is that it only has one chapter leaving us with a cliffhanger in the end with more chapters to come in the future. Aside from that, the story mode is a harmless distraction that is worth the time for funny moments alone.

Breaking the fourth wall to show hitboxes

The game has a great tutorial mode, easing the player into every significant mechanic in the game. There are also character-specific tutorials that highlight all the unique quirks with each character. The only issues I have are that it’s a bit slow with its witty dialogue trying to explain the mechanics. Aside from that, it’s a well-done tutorial that will ease any player to the game.

The game’s online lobby system is the crappy lobby system from the Guilty Gear Strive beta, but good. The lobby allows players to walk across an overworld populated with other players. Players can compete against each other, train, and buy cosmetics using the in-game currency, salt. That’s right, salt! The overworld occasionally spawns treasure chests that contain salt for a player. Players can get salt from this chest if they open it by themselves. However, if a second player tries to open the chest, both players will fight with the victor keeping all the salt. Little stuff like this make the lobbies fun and a great incentive to fight other players.

Online Lobbies

Fighting games with a well-implemented rollback netcode is a rarity these days. Thankfully this game’s online is great with GGPO, which is rollback netcode that fighting game fans recommend for an optimal online experience. The game’s online is so good that it was one of four fighting games that were chosen for EVO online. Naturally, there may be a few unstable matches, but they are few and far between. Fair to say, this game’s fantastic online will be the main reason I’ll be coming back to this game.

Them’s Fightin’ Herds is a game I never thought I would like. I never had any interest in TV show it’s inspired by. But when I started to play, I realized the amount of heart and passion these developers added to their game. With beautiful animations, fluent combat, and excellent online make the game a joy to watch and play. The only con is that the game isn’t entirely complete with missing features like level 3 supers and extra story mode content. But honestly, these problems only make me all the more excited about the future of this already great game. If you’re interested in trying out a fun, fast-paced fighting game then this four-legged fighter is for you.

Now, this would be the part where I encourage you to play this in EVO online, but sadly that’s no longer the case. Allegations of sexual misconduct against EVO president, Joey Cuellar, have been brought to light recently, causing many people and companies in the FGC to abandon any involvement with EVO online. This included Them’s Fightin’ Herds’ developers, Mane6, who pulled their game from the tournament following these allegations. A couple of hours later, EVO online was canceled. This was Them’s Fightin’ Herds’ chance to show people how great of a fighting game it is, but the actions of one person have shattered that dream. For the sake of this game’s future, I hope that there’s another chance for this fighting game to show it’s worth.

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