Fight Crab Review – The Next Great MOBA (Majestic Oceanic Brawling Arthropods
First rule about Fight Crab; don’t talk about Fight Crab. Now that we’ve gotten that low hanging fruit out of the way, time for the review. This is going to be a fairly short one since Fight Crab is not exactly a full game. It was created by Calappa Games, best known for Ace of Seafood, the ridiculous oceanic dreadnought warfare simulator with fish battles at Legend of the Galactic Heroes scale. If I didn’t know the developer’s previous works, I would assume this was a tech demo game in the same vein as Goat Simulator. But it’s actually much much more.
There is no story, and barely even a premise. Fight Crab has you playing a crab that fights. There is no coherence in the locations or reasons for fighting. You may fight yourself fighting as regular sized crabs at a seafood market, or as 50 foot tall kaiju crabs in city streets. You may be in a medieval court, swinging halberds and swords, or you may be in a boxing ring firing guns. It’s silly intentionally, and that applies to every facet of the game.
In this it’s a charming novelty. But a game where one can sincerely attempt a competitive match, Fight Crab is not. Most of the combat boils down to the carnal gamer instincts of frantic button mashing. Fight Crab is similar to Super Smash Bros Melee in that the higher your damage, the more vulnerable you are to being knocked out. But in Fight Crab, the goal is to flip the opponent on their back. Once you have their crab shoulders pinned for three seconds, they’re out of the game.
The Fight Crab crab fighting is profoundly awkward. And honestly, I would expect nothing less. The basic controls are simple enough. You can strike with your crab fists, block with your crab arms, and grab hold of enemies with your crab claws. You can also do a dash, which is so slow it’s almost indistinguishable from your regular slow crabwalk, and you can also walk up walls for some reason, which I think I did once during the tutorial and promptly never used again.
You’re also able to pick up stuff to use as weapons. Often the levels of Fight Crab have various objects which you can carry and swing around. There’s also a ton of weapons that you can gain from defeating crab challengers. Honestly, it’s a ridiculous amount of weaponry. Tonfas and ninja stars and claymores and axes and kusarigama and lightsabers and chainsaws and guns and so much more. I was blown away at the creativity, and encountering a new combination of crab + weapons each level was a lot of fun. Of course, all of them boiled down to the same type of combat; flailing crab arms around and hoping for the best. Often I would enter a fight with a spiked bat or shield and simply end up dropping them in favor of slapping the foe. But I do sincerely appreciate the inclusion.
I almost think there are too many base mechanics going on at once. One big issue in Fight Crab is that you can only access so many of these controls at any given time. Using a controller vs a mouse & keyboard is a wildly different experience. On a controller, you can use the joysticks to independently move each arm, presumably allowing for a skilled player to fight with more dexterity. But with the two joysticks in use, movement is limited to tapping a button on the d-pad, which causes the crab to walk in whatever direction until pressed again. With a mouse & keyboard, you can move around with a bit more ease, but both arms always move in the same direction. Fight Crab is unique in that it’s a fighting game in which you literally do not have enough appendages to utilize all the controls simultaneously, which honestly is a pretty neat achievement.
There are a few other mechanics of note. One is leveling up. Each win of Fight Crab gets you a currency I am choosing to call crab bux. You can spend your crab bux on new crabs and new weapons, or you can use them to level up your crabs. Higher dexterity for faster arm swinging, or strength for more powerful pushing. Stuff like that. These I found not to be all too effective. Perhaps because the combat is always chaotic, or perhaps it’s just not that big of an increase. In any case, leveling up changed very little in the crab fighting ring. Though I look forward to researching the best crab builds, once players understand the crab meta.
Likewise, changing crabs had minimal difference as well. There are a ton of crustaceans available to you, from the humble snow crab to the monstrous king crab, plus the occasional lobster or mantis shrimp. Supposedly they all had different strengths, marked by a Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure style stat wheel. But again, these proved to matter very little in the heat of crab battle, and I ended up choosing by aesthetic preference and whatever crab had the longest arms.
But aesthetic preference goes for a lot, and the totally bat-shit insane aesthetic of Fight Crab is absolutely its strength. Two brawling sea creatures would have been plenty. But when the strikes of crab claws spark like clashing blades, you’ve gone and got yourself something incredible. Fight Crab knows that it’s not going to be the next Street Fighter, and leans into the silly with pride. Eventually you can get “hyper mode” in which your crab uses their crab-meter to go into a Dragon Ball Z style mode where they do extra damage and energy flies from their bodies and can even create explosions and shoot lasers. That’s so goddamn good I can’t even put it into words.
Fight Crab is an incredibly awkward fighting game. But so was Rocket League, and yet here we are, with professional Rocket League matches where players show their mastery over awkward mechanics. There may never be a Fight Crab Esports team (no matter how much I wish for one), but jank does not equal bad. There’s a lot of soul put into this game, and though it may not be for everyone, it’s without a doubt an incredible amount of good clean fun.