Giving a less than glowing review to a game made by a tiny developer almost always feels like kicking a puppy, regardless of how much it deserves the panning.
That’s especially true when the game in question is amazingly imaginative but lacks the execution to do the idea justice.
So it's a blessing of sorts that Further Beyond Fighting lacks both ideas and execution.
Imagine the minimum amount of effort it would take to build a functional and attractive Android 3D fighting game and you’ve already gone a bit beyond what’s on display here.
While the fighting gameplay fundamentals are solid, there's never a moment where shoddy production values, questionable presentation, and downright ugly art doesn’t mar the experience to some extent.
Virtua Exercise Video
The mechanics are by far the most polished aspect of the game, but that doesn’t make them any less bland or uninspiring, despite the variety of game modes available.
And by 'variety' we really mean 'quantity', as the game’s Arcade, VS, and Survival modes are largely the same single combat and handicap modes you’ve been playing since the dawn of the fighting game.
You have your run of the mill punch, kick, guard trifecta of gameplay actions and the possibility of flicking your finger upwards while tapping each to add some flavour (i.e. a more interesting animation) to the move.
There are no breathtaking Hadoukens, bicycle kicks, or ground slams to be found here.
While this could easily be justified under the pretence that the game is aiming for a Virtua Fighter-type dynamic where the emphasis is more on impressive fighting skills than weapons or inexplicable magic powers, the complete lack of imagination in even that department belies that notion.
Series of unfortunate events
There is no manoeuvre more impressive or complex than the occasional scissor kick, and even if there were you wouldn’t have much use for it anyway.
There is, however, a deeper underlying design issue that sadly removes a lot of depth from the gameplay.
The fact is you can only ever block or dodge the first of any series of hits the AI inflicts on you. Miss the chance, and your character is subjected to a prolonged session of unavoidable punishment.
This means most of your time is spent either mashing any 'attack' button to keep the AI suppressed, or watching helplessly as the AI does the same to you - neither of which makes for compelling gameplay.
Lend me your ear
Some actual effort into the arena design wouldn’t have saved this game, but it would have helped with the barebones feel.
Both polygon counts and texture resolutions for environments look like they’re in the single digits. Animations have the bare minimum number of frames (though the developer has managed to make the bosoms jiggle).
All in all, Further Beyond Fighting is a spartan effort with decent mechanics but a complete lack of charm, enthusiasm, or imagination.