I’ve explained in previous reviews and such about how I have been a huge fighting game fan ever since I was a kid. Yes, this is technically the third fighting game I have covered this year, but its been a great time. As I explained in my Dragon Ball FighterZ review, the genre is back on top. I’m going to continue my streak of fighting game coverage with something a little on the stranger side—its called Them’s Fightin Herds.
For the record, I am not a My Little Pony fan. To be honest, I have never watched the show. I discovered Them’s Fightin Herds about a year ago, and though it looked like a really good fighting game. I discovered that the original concept for this game was originally meant to literally be based off of the MLP franchise. It was to be titled Fighting is Magic, and was shot down by Hasbro due to being an unlicensed fan creation. Those developers have bounced back, with the help of the original creative lead from the show. That is how Them’s Fightin Herds came to be.
Them’s Fightin Herds is in Early Access on Steam, which is why this is a preview rather than a review. There are plenty of features that have yet to be added. For now we have arcade, pixel lobby, training, and target practice modes. Currently, we are missing some of the more simpler matchmaking types of online play and the story mode. This build also takes us back to the early days of fighting games and includes only six characters, but they are totally unique and have a variety of color palettes to choose from.
For Mane 6 to continue development and create something new, they needed crowdfunding. Obviously they met their goals, but received extensive help from the developers of Skullgirls as well. If you think Them’s Fightin Herds feels similar, that’s because these two fighting games share the same engine. Even in its hand-drawn art style that rivals its own inspiration, it’s easy to see how much Skullgirls has influenced and played a part in the development of this game.
When first booting up Them’s Fightin Herds, I trotted into the training mode to get a feel for the controls. They actually felt similar to Dragon Ball FighterZ due to magic abilities being mapped to the X/A button and the others being labeled as light, medium, and heavy. I have spent some time with all six of the characters, and found two that I was able to get the hang of.
Arizona and Tianhou are the two I have spent the most time with. Arizona is a small cow that uses a lasso; with the use of her lasso, she can execute counters and leave the enemy exposed in order to get some combos in. Tianhou is a half horse and half dragon with fire-based abilities and combos that are great for mix-ups. Her dash abilities remind me so much of John Talbain from Darkstalkers, which happens to be one of my favorite fighting game series. The other characters all have their own special play styles that can make anyone a deadly opponent, but those two in particular fit best for me.
The training mode has all the features a fighting game fan could want, but there are more ways to learn your favorite character. Fans of Super Smash Bros. will be glad to see that Them’s Fightin Herds has a target mode. This is a challenge mode that goes beyond hitting all of the targets before time runs out. Multiple objectives within a stage do well to increase the challenge along with the positioning of the targets. There are three target challenges available for each character; the objectives combined with the placement of the targets encourage players to learn and know how their favorite character works. This mode makes me want to learn as much as possible.
I had no issues during my time with the Pixel Lobby and trying a match online. Everything felt smooth and created a seamless experience. This Pixel Lobby is where players can go to fight each other online, though this is not a typical lobby. It’s got a retro SNES-inspired presentation where players have an avatar to customize and can find more items in the world around them. The area doesn’t seem to be too big at the moment but I could see potential for this mode to grow into something much bigger than what it is now. Players who don’t want to mess with the lobby will have to wait for the standard ranked and casual matchmaking features to come in a future update.
At the moment, a good place to test my skill has been the arcade mode. It defaults at a difficulty above normal, so I had to crank it down to hold my own. The A.I. can be brutal and a great way to test your skills in combat outside of fighting online. All six characters are your opponents, including a boss fight which is a group of shadow creatures. These guys can be a challenge too, but they felt less tougher. I’m sure the reason for this boss fight is better explained in the “book of lore” section of the developer’s website. I just discovered it when doing some research and hope to learn more about this world.
Them’s Fightin Herds is a solid fighter in its current form. Gameplay feels solid and each attack has weight to it, but it took some time for me to get the hang of playing as four footed creatures rather than a human being. When first viewing the trailer, I was drawn to how much content was going to be in the game. We have a taste of that in this early access build, and I really want to see what’s in store—there’s even a story mode on the way. I look forward to see what is coming in future updates, because this is only the beginning. Them’s Fightin Herds is sure to please all sorts of My Little Pony fans, including the low-key Bronies out there. This is a development process that will be fun to follow.