When April Fool's Day announcements turn out to be real, well, you have to ask why they would want their news buried under mountains of fake stories. It seems like a bad announcement window, if you ask me.
So when Arika announced Fighting EX Layer Alpha for mobile, no-one took it seriously. But it's real, and it seems like the team at Arika actually intend to port the full game over to smartphones.
This is the biggest take away here. This is the full-fat experience in many ways, not a mobile rendition like Tekken was not too long ago. But it is still hampered in other ways.
Right now, Fighting EX Layer Alpha has four playable characters and only one stage and one mode. That's not exactly a big fighting game. Not only that, but the one mode is a rush mode, where you take out as many enemies as you can in a row.
It doesn't sound too exciting, right? Well a single rush mode where you take out enemies over and over again isn't too engaging, but almost all of the gameplay you expect from the series is here. Kind of.
You don't get on-screen buttons for this. Instead, you get an auto-combo you can tap out, ending in a super if you have the meter for it.
But you actually get a shocking amount of control over your characters. Through swipes on the touch screen, you can still dash in and out, jump, and block. So you get everything you need to play the fundamentals of a fighting game.
Unfortunately, when it comes to combos, you basically just get the option of tapping out an auto-combo either quickly or slowly. Sad, but still fun.
What's most interesting here, is that you can swipe on the screen to input dragon punch and fireball motions. That's right, the classic quarter-circles and shoryukens fighting game fans are used to are still here - and they work well.
You can perform either motion forward or backward by drawing on the screen, and as a result, all four characters have special moves for you to access. It's totally possible to tap out a few hits of an auto-combo, and swipe in a special move to finish.
Using this, the game actually offers a surprising amount of depth to the combat. Sure, links are automatic, but spacing, footsies, blocking, and your choice of special move essentially gives you access to a lot of variety in a fighting game. This is a game that could work in multiplayer.
It even hums along at 60FPS, albeit at a lower resolution than what console players will be used to.
As mentioned though, there are only four characters. The rest of the cast is there on the character selection screen, but not accessible, hinting at game updates to come.
With a couple of more modes to fight in and some earnable currency to unlock other characters, this could well be one of the best fighting games on mobile. Fighting EX Layer is already a fun fighter, and this adaptation is so faithful it makes me hopeful for the future.
Right now, Fighting EX Layer Alpha feels like a bit of a novelty, but in the future, it could be the best fighting game on mobile. That's a good reason to download it now.