Kill la Kill: The Game – IF Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: Arc System Works

Publisher: PQube

Release Date: July 26th 2019

Price as of Article: $59.99, £49.99

Game code provided by PQube

File Size: 6.1 GB

Story

Kill la Kill: The Game – IF is the first ever videogame based on the popular anime ”Kill la Kill” that ended some years ago and was a comedy action series. As such, ”IF” hits many key scenes/fights that fans will recognize from throughout the original anime’s 24 episode run, but true to its subtitle, it indeed throws in a little twist. Kill la Kill: The Game – IF retells most of the original story, but is ultimately a what-if story, so even if you have already watched the anime, you will still have something new and exciting to look forward to here. The chapters of the story are rather short though, even skipping out on quite a bit of the anime, with multiple characters being left out, and as such the story is ultimately beatable in just about 2-4 hours.

That said, for those of you who are not quite up to speed, here are the cliff notes: The story revolves around hot-headed high-school girl Ryoko Matoi, and sees her enroll in the curious Honnouji Academy, in pursuit of her father’s killer, where she confronts Satsuki Kiryuin, the head of the school in demand of answers. Such begins Ryoko’s journey to climb the ranks of the school, face off against the academy’s Elite Four and ultimately Satsuki herself in order to learn the truth of what happened to her late father.

Gameplay

Unlike most other fighting games, Kill la Kill: The Game – IF is very eager to tell its story, as the only options that are readily available from the main menu, are ”Story” and ”Options”, with ”Versus”, ”Practice”, and ”Gallery” being greyed out. Selecting ”Story” the game then throws the player a little twist, as you are initially only able to select Satsuki as your avatar, seeing the story unfold through her eyes, with Ryoko’s story being unlocked once you complete Satsuki’s.

The game then progresses like most other anime fighting games, taking you from battle to battle with 3D rendered cutscenes inbetween, re-creating iconic scenes from the anime. Kill la Kill: The Game – IF is an arena fighter, meaning you move your character around in a 3D space, giving you more opportunities to outmaneuvre your opponent as you attempt to close the distance and deal out some punishment. X is your normal attack, while B is for jumping, A is for guard-break attacks, Y is for long-range, and R is for blocking, though a quick in-game tutorial will show you the ropes during the first fight, so that you get an idea of how things work.

Kill la Kill Screenshot

Under your health meter you also have an energy meter that fills up if you take damage, deal damage, or block an attack, and when it reaches half-way, you then get a prompt to execute one of three different special attacks to land some heavy hits on your opponent. Every character of course has their own style of fighting as well as a set of special attacks unique to them, and an attention to detail I always appreciate in games like these, is that characters you choose in Versus will talk and personally call each other out.

What I don’t like about Versus, is that Kill la Kill: The Game – IF is one of those games where damage carries over between rounds, so if you just barely managed to beat your opponent with 1 HP left, they are most likely gonna get you in Round 2 with little to no effort unless you’re a master of dodging. I prefer when both character’s lifebars get completely refilled between rounds, but I guess this is one I can just file under the pet peeve department.

All in all, as far as the fighting itself goes, Kill la Kill: The Game – IF is an okay first attempt at a Kill la Kill fighting game, coming from the same people who recently gave us DragonBall FighterZ. It does feel a bit clunky and stiff, but once you get a combo going it is a sight to behold.

All of this is slightly held back by a camera that wishes nothing but the worst for you if more than one enemy is on screen though, as it will actively focus on the enemy nearest you, which by default sounds like a good thing, but this means that if you land a heavy combo on an opponent, that then knocks this opponent into next week, and you then wanna rush after them to follow up with more punishment, the game will interupt your flow by forcing you to focus on the other opponent who is now closer to you than the one you fought initially. And no, there is no manual option to lock onto a target or switching between them, I tried. Again, this is only a problem when you face multiple enemies at once, which means it is only really gonna be a problem in Story Mode but if even one of those uses projectile based attacks you wish you had something heavy to throw.

Kill la Kill Screenshot 4

Another camera related issue, actually, is that if the enemy flings you 40 miles away, the camera won’t always follow you, but will keep focusing on the enemy while you are but a spec of dust in the distance, which is, again, really an inconvenience if you are fighting multiple enemies or ones with projectile attacks, as the bad camera angle will obscure your vision and make it difficult to judge the distance.

This wouldn’t be an anime fighting game without the trusty ”Versus” mode as previously mentioned. Here you can play either alone against the computer, against a friend, or online. Local 2-player works like a snitch, but as I am reviewing the game before it is offically out, I could not however test out the online multiplayer. Here you can either search for another player to fight casually under specific circumstances, or participate in ranked battles. Again, I could not test this, but I imagine it will work just fine. As is commonly the case with these games, most characters are locked at first, but will procedurally be unlocked as you encounter and beat them in Story Mode. Now, Kill la Kill is already a short anime like I mentioned before, only spanning 24 episodes, unlike a series like Naruto that has hundreds, and thus naturally has dozens more characters to choose from, so Kill la Kill: The Game – IF’s roster is naturally smaller, but as also mentioned before, the abridged story in this game skips over some plot elements and characters from the show, so a couple are missing that I think could have been cool to have, but I guess they can always come with DLC.

For example, Ryoko at one point loses her battle uniform, and is then left with nothing but her underwear and the scarf of her uniform that she wraps around her neck, and I thought it was a massive wasted opportunity that that version of her wasn’t playable. I say that, because I remember back in Naruto Ultimate Ninja 2 on the PlayStation 2, where at one point a certain character gets his arms rendered useless, and so, just for the heck of it, two versions of him were playable in that game, one where he was fine, and one where his arms were useless and his moveset was therefore completely different. It added variety, and gave you a chance to play as this character in a way you wouldn’t normally. So imagine playing as a stripped down Ryoko that doesn’t have her full powers, but is then given another set of abilities. On the other hand I guess it is pretty rare to see an anime fighting game with only one version of the main character, haha.

Ryoko’s best friend Mako Mankanshoku and the Ultimate Double Naked DTR have been announced as DLC sometime this summer, so I am holding out hope that we’ll get more.

Kill la Kill Screenshot 2

As you play through the story and other modes of the game, you are also rewarded with points that you can spend in the Gallery on voice clips, poses for your virtual figurines etc. You naturally unlock some of these via gameplay, but not all of them, and I think that is a good way of keeping players invested in the game.

One odd thing about the gallery though, is that you can even see poses that you haven’t yet paid for, and in the library, where you can read all about the different characters, their weapons and other equipment, these entries are all presented in plain text without any images, which I find to be a huge oversight and just flat out lazy. Kill la Kill is an amazing anime, and so this game deserves better.

In short, the game has a buttload of content to unlock, and the fighting, which is its bread and butter, works fine, there are just some kinks in the wheels I feel could be improved.

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Audio

As you boot up the game, you are presented with its title screen accompanied by the anime’s iconic theme song in Japanese, which was already a good sign to me of a quality product with attention to detail.

The music is good too with a hard hitting bass at the main menu welcoming you to the calm before the storm, and it really fits the spirit of the show with its hardcore rock overall, but speaking about the gallery from before, what is up with that tribal music? It’s like you are suddenly playing an entirely different game.

Visuals & Performance

The most important thing presentation wise, when tackling a game adaption of a popular anime, is of course the art style. Staying true to what fans recognize from the source material. And fans can rest assured that the utmost care has been taken to re-create the Kill la Kill universe in the 3rd dimension, as series creator Kazuki Nakashima and Studio TRIGGER has been following the direction of the game very closely, even writing the new script of the story.

Ryoko herself looks a bit off to me at times, but other than that the game is very faithful to the anime, including its high-octane battle animations, so fans of the anime will unquestionably feel right at home. This game makes the anime come to life!

I also didn’t encounter any stuttering or game crashes, the game ran flawlessly.

Kill la Kill Screenshot 5

Fans of the dub, like myself, will also be pleased to hear that unlike many anime games of recent, like My Hero One’s Justice and the last 3 Attack on Titan games, Kill la Kill: The Game – IF does indeed feature full English voice acting, as well as Japanese of course, with all of the great actors from the show reprising their roles for both languages. So whichever you prefer, go into the Options and take your pick. Whether you are dub or sub, we are all friends here.

It should be mentioned though, that just like with the Naruto games, the lip synching when choosing the English dub, is off and absolutely hilariously awful, but hey, I can live with that.

Anime is a huge industry, and videogames even more so, so while dubbing is very common for most anime, I cannot begin to understand why so many game developers cheap out of dubbing these games. Bandai Namco, when they made My Hero One’s Justice, the fighting game based on the hugely popular My Hero Academia anime, couldn’t even be bothered to add subtitles when the characters talked during fights, which was a whole new level of lazy on their part. To most anime fans, the voices we have come to know and love throughout a show make up half the experience, so when devs decide to cheap out on anything that isn’t Naruto or DragonBall Z and only roll with the original Japanese voice over, it really does frustrate me.

I am therefore immensely grateful that Arc System Works didn’t cut corners on this aspect of the presentation, and I would greatly appreciate it and advice for other developers to follow suit! We all have our preferences, and it just isn’t fair to exclude half of your fan base.

Value

Kill la Kill: The Game – IF is set full price at £49.99/$59.99, which honestly ain’t all that surprising. It is afterall a big budget adaption of a popular anime. My Hero One’s Justice and the recent Attack on Titan 2: Final Battle were priced similarly. Now, $60 will always be a steep asking price for some, but if you are a fan of the anime, I still whole heartedly recommend that you get this game, if nothing else to show the developers that we want more Kill la Kill games in the future that are a bit better polished, though if you are a fan, I imagine you already got it day one. Had we not gotten a review code for it, I sure would, and I am likely gonna double-dip just to get the game physically.

Objectively seen, there is a good amount of content here for the price, and you do get a decent anime fighting game, that may even make you curious to watch the anime. There are however far better anime fighting games out there, like the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy, where you get 3 games for the price of this one, but CyberConnect2 has also had years to perfect that series, so that is hardly a fair comparison in all honesty.

Still, Kill la Kill is a great show, so even if the series’ first endeavor into the videogame space is a bit rough around some of its edges, I still do recommend checking it out. IF nothing else you can always try the demo first, but I can say with a straight face that this is the game the fans have been waiting for!

Pros

P

English voice-over

P

Art style stays true to the show

P

Original story

Cons

P

A bit short on characters

P

Suffers from occassionally bad camera