Fighting games are an important genre in gaming but one with an interesting history on mobile. Even in the earlier days of the App Store developers had successfully brought traditional fighting games to the touchscreen using virtual button control schemes. For the most part these worked surprisingly well and big brands like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and King of Fighters provided solid fighting experiences for mobile gamers.
That said, not everyone could get behind the whole virtual buttons thing in a genre that was built around manipulating physical controls in a precise manner. This led to the rise of what I’ve been calling the “swipe fighter." Games like Marvel Contest of Champions and Injustice boiled movement and combat mechanics down to tap and swipe gestures that worked beautifully on the touchscreen but provided a much more condensed experience. The swipe fighters are fun for what they are, and games like Skullgirls have shown that you can have that condensed fighting experience while still retaining a lot of the strategy of a full fighter, but they’re still no replacement for a full-blown fighting game.
I’ve often wondered why a developer hadn’t tried to combine the two ideas. A fully free movement fighting game but with swipe-based controls that would work well on a touchscreen. And now someone is finally trying to do just that. HeroVersus: The Legend of Ki Masters is a new mobile fighting game developed by members of the Fighting Game Community that finally wants to bring a highly strategic and competitive, but also highly playable, fighting game to touchscreen devices. And holy moly are they off to a good start. Here’s a brief trailer showing HeroVersus in action.
The controls consist of a virtual joystick that gives you free reign of movement and jumping towards or away from your opponent, as well as holding backwards to block a la Street Fighter. The brilliant part is in the combat controls using the right side of the screen. Simply tap anywhere to attack, and tap multiple times to do a simple combo. You can also swipe or swipe and hold in any of the cardinal directions to perform a more advanced attack. It’s very similar to how games like Contest of Champions work, but much less robotic and canned. Then along the bottom of the screen are virtual buttons that allow you to perform special moves which work on a cooldown. The fun in HeroVersus is how all these can interact with each other in ways that behave just like a traditional fighting game. You can experiment and find all manner of cool combos to perform for each of the game’s characters and there’s a level of depth here that’s just not attainable with your average mobile swipe fighter.
What actually brought HeroVersus to my attention in the first place was professional fighting game competitor Justin Wong tweeting about the game, which gives a level of clout to those that might doubt that you can make a mobile fighting game that’s actually strategic and competitive. It was through this that I also leanred that HeroVersus is currently in open beta, and if you go join their official Discord server you’ll be able to download the beta version for yourself on either iOS or Android. You can also meet its growing community and arrange online fights with each other. Oh yeah, did I mention that HeroVersus has online multiplayer? The developers are really hoping that the game can grow a large competitive community much in the way the big console and PC fighting games have.
New character is out for @hero_versus for iOS and Android and Master Yip does so much damage!!!!
Don’t get hit!!
— Fox | Justin Wong (@JWonggg) January 2, 2019
While no release date has been set yet, the open beta has been progressing well since opening up a couple of months ago with frequent new builds being pushed out that feature tons of fixes and balancing as well as new content like new modes and characters. If you do try out the beta for yourself keep in mind that the game is still in quite an early state and has quite a few rough edges including things like a lack of sound and an unpolished interface. But the important thing at this point is balancing the characters and tightening up the fighting mechanics, which is something Justin Wong himself is helping with personally, and all the extra polish needed in other areas of the game will come after. I think once you try out the controls and warm up to the mechanics you’ll also see all the potential that I do in HeroVersus, and the game even in its current state is so much fun that the rough edges are easily forgiven. This is one I’ll definitely be keeping close tabs on in 2019.