Fantasy Strike is Sirlin’s crowdfunded new fighting game

David Sirlin, the designer known for games including Chess 2 and the tweaking of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, is ramping up development on his new fighting game. With Fantasy Strike [official site] he’s trying to cut away the cruft of fighting games, removing the complicated chains of commands to execute moves, so players can focus on being the best at biffing faces. He’s had the game on his mind for ooh a good six or so years but is now ready enough to start drumming up more interest. Sirlin Games are crowdfunding it, offering instant access to dev builds. Here, check out this recent trailer’s pre-alpha action:

All those fancy moves? They’re done with only six buttons: left and right, jump, attack, and Special 1 and Special 2. The greatest number of buttons you’ll need to press for any move is two, and countering throws is done with no buttons at all – by simply letting go of your controls. That’d leave you vulnerable to other attacks, of course. Sirlin Games explain their decision to simplify:

“Emphasizing player-decisions over difficult dexterity is a much deeper commitment than simply letting you do special moves easily—it’s a commitment to avoid fiddly, unintuitive, difficult-to-execute techniques throughout the game. If you don’t know what plinking, kara cancels, option selects, charge partitioning, FADCs, or crouch techs are, you don’t have to. Instead you can focus on the fundamentals of fighting games: distancing, timing, zoning, setups, reads, and strategy.”

The devs are crowdfunding Fantasy Strike through Patreon, a service based on ongoing monthly subscriptions rather than one big lumps. Why Patreon? Sirlin explains that it lets them work on the game until its done, rather than having to decide upon and budget for its scope years in advance. It means no over-promising on stretch goals either. He says:

“On the surface, it sounds good to promise ahead of time exactly what everyone will get, including a dozen or so stretch goals, and codify that into writing. But in practice, game quality and player satisfaction can be even higher if you allow the game to develop organically over time, making the best decisions you can at each point, and letting the community give feedback the entire way through.”

Which is fair. Sensible stuff, that. It does risk wandering into the early access territory where games don’t draw enough players and interest to fund development to completion but hey, making video games is financially risky.

If you fancy supporting this, at least $5 per month on Patreon will get you access to dev builds. Do be aware that it doesn’t have online multiplayer yet and some art is placeholder.

Radiant Entertainment’s fighting game Rising Thunder had similar ideas about simplifying controls but, er, it got cancelled when League of Legends makers Riot Games bought the studio.


  1. shadowmarth says:

    For anyone who doesn’t know, Sirlin is a huge fighting game fan, and has wanted to do this for years. He has a stable of planned characters which he has used in several of his excellent board games over the years, such as Yomi, Puzzle Strike, and Flash Duel. Hope it goes well for him.

  2. Serenegoose says:

    And now I’m a grumpyguts about rising thunder being canned again. I’m glad to see someone else trying something similar though, so good luck and all that.

  3. Remy77077 says:

    I’ve actually been backing this for almost a year now and it’s already really fun to play :D

  4. QSpec says:

    Rollback or Delay?


    What’s the netcode?

  5. BooleanBob says:

    I was surprised not to see Smash Bros. mentioned anywhere in connection with the game – the synopsis reads a lot like Smash Bros. with health bars instead of ring-outs.

    But I suppose the connection with Smash would be wholly undesirable for someone trying to pitch to the fighting game community.

    • Baines says:

      Detractors see Smash as too simplistic to be considered a positive. Defenders argue that Smash is too complex to deliver what Sirlin desires.

      Honestly, while Smash has relatively simple controls, those controls are still more complex than what Sirlin appears to want in Fantasy Strike. What have become considered entry level competitive techniques in Smash certainly fit into Sirlin’s list of “fiddly” techniques that he is out to eliminate.

      • immaletufinishbut says:

        Smash has more complex input requirements, to play at a high level, than any traditional FG.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Smash is full of cruft like L-canceling and wavedashing. It’s good fun to play casually, but the moment there’s someone in the room who’s been reading GameFAQs the fun goes out of the window.

      • King Trode of Trodain says:

        And that’s not even counting character specific stuff like wobbling, or the weird bomb jumping of Samus etc.

  6. SlimShanks says:

    This sounds a whole lot like Soul Calibur with fewer weapons, and with the controls even more condensed. I’m awful at most fighting games, but Soul Calibur is very playable for me thanks to the emphasis on timing, spacing, and dodging. We can use more games like that.
    I really like the idea of automatic blocking, that’s a really good way of reducing the workload on players.

  7. Kolbex says:

    I am super interested in this but have no interest in open-ended payments like Patreon. I look forward to paying for this one time when it comes out.

    • Remy77077 says:

      They appreciate your words of support anyway. :-)

      From the fantasystrike website:

      “And if supporting us through Patreon is not something you’re interested in doing right now—we totally understand. Our great hope is that we can open up Fantasy Strike to as wide of an audience as possible after release. Our task right now is to get to release, and we can only do that with the help of our generous patrons. So if you’d like to wait a long time and get the game through more conventional means, we’ll welcome you at that time. If you’d like to help make this project happen in the first place, please support us now.”

  8. King Trode of Trodain says:

    Hot damn, this looks like EXACTLY the kind of thing I’m looking for. Watching the EVO:s and what have you and wanting to try a fighting game properly, but starting Street Fighter and then realizing you’re physically unable to perform a “delta motion” or time a button press at the frame-perfect combo window, you never get to try out what the game is *actually* about.

    There’s also something deliciously meta about all those (pretty great btw) boardgames being based upon a fictional fighting game which will now exist after the fact. Videogame: the Board game: the Videogame

    • Remy77077 says:

      Wow yes, I think you’ll love this if that’s your appreciation of fighting games :-)

    • PiiSmith says:

      Are you aware the Sirlin created BattleCon, which is a turn based board game, emulating a fighting game? Puzzle Strike is also in a very similar vein. I think those two games he has published should be mentioned on here.

    • gomenasai says:

      look, if you arent willing to put in the work to do basic motions in SF, then this will go the exact same way. You are going to get run over and you will quit. This kind of sentiment exists with every game that tries to use simpler controls, yet people who have actually put in the time will still completely dominate. The fact of the matter is that if you don’t put in hundreds of hours into learning the fundamentals of these games, you are going to get absolutely wrecked. When i started SF i went probably 3-100 before even having a remote idea of what the hell i should be doing. and that was after i had spent several thousand hours in UMVC3. If you want to learn fighting games, then just play through it. You don’t have to if you are playing with friends, but if you want any success whatsoever in the online crowd, then just go for it. Practice the motions until you get them. it doesn’t take long, and i doubt you are physically unable to do them, as there are VERY handicapped people who find ways to do it consistently. Also, in SFV, there are no frame perfect combos. there is like a 3 frame buffer that makes combos incredibly easy as long as you are willing to put the work in. So if FGs are your thing, just play them a lot and it will start to work out.

      • King Trode of Trodain says:

        I don’t mind people who play ridiculous amounts having an advantage, in fact I expect it. I’m just not interested in spending 5 hours grinding for the muscle memory of *how* to execute a flash kick, when I could be spending that time learning *when* to use it, getting beaten in actual matches.

        Not saying that there’s anything inherently wrong with having these intricate motions for attacks in traditional fighting games, they’re often iconic and helps the characters feel distinct when you’re physically doing different things while playing them. But they were designed for arcade sticks and oodles of dedicated time, and I have a gamepad and a steam library filled with other fun competitive games.

        It’s hard for me to justify practicing for hours and maybe even buying special hardware just to be able to see if a genre is something for me, and getting to actually sort of “play the game” would be a great motivator. Who knows, maybe this game will get me to want to try the other stuff more seriously.

        P.S. Brolylegs is awesome

        • Remy77077 says:

          Just wanted to say this is SUCH an excellent post, agree & understand so much with everything you’ve said :-)
          (even though I’m a hardcore fighting game player who has a custom joystick etc)

          • TheLetterM says:

            Seconded. I refuse to accept “git gud” as a response to the prohibitively high execution barrier that fighting games require. I’ve been playing fighting games for over two decades, and I still can’t reliably pull off a double Spinning Piledriver 720 motion.

            And let’s be honest, SF is on the easier side of execution. Anyone who’s tried throwing out desperation attacks on reflex in the King of Fighters or Last Blade series should know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m all for practice being rewarded, but I’d rather play a game where I’m practicing to play smarter, not just drilling muscle memory.

        • Emeraude says:

          I’m always kinda puzzled at that complete disregard for the value of execution in and off itself.

          I understand preferring the tactical aspects, but can’t players for whom perfect execution matters have their games too?

          And there’s so little of those, I don’t find it fair to begrudge their existence.

          • Remy77077 says:

            Of course execution-heavy games are totally fine, but to say “there’s so little of those” is crazy when there’s already MASSES of them – the whole FG scene is flooded with them. Take your pick.

            What there isn’t much of, and why Fantasy Strike is so interesting, is any alternative.

          • Emeraude says:

            Matter of scale of evaluation I gather: certainly most fighting games have a strong element of execution, but apart from those and I guess rhythm games (though those are solely about execution), I don’t think that’s an element that has a strong presence in modern gaming, overall.

            I mean, just look at even platform games…

  9. THPancake says:

    That last move from the trailer was almost, ALMOST an exact copy of the 2nd ultra of Evil Ryu from SF4, but then again it’s not stealing as long as it’s not 100% the same.

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    frumious says:

    One of the “Sirlin on Game Design” podcasts goes into the whole concept of Easy Special Moves (as exemplified here) in detail:
    link to