Them's Fightin' Herds
Them's Fightin' Herds is an indie fighting game developed by Mane6 and published by Humble Games, the game publishing division of Humble Bundle.
First released as an early access title in February 2018, the game received its 1.0 update on April 30, 2020 for Microsoft Windows, with macOS and Linux versions coming soon.
The game was originally a fangame based on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic known simply as “Fighting is Magic”, which itself originated from a series of mock screenshots for a potential MLP fighting game created by Anukan, one of the founders of Mane6.
The game received positive reception from bronies and the FGC alike for its unique concept and their faithfulness to the show, though it unfortunately received a cease and desist order from Hasbro in 2013, forcing Mane6 to scrap all their previous work and start over from scratch. The cease and desist order was believed to be a result of the visibility the project gained through the EVO 2013 tournament
Not wanting their hard work to go to waste, Mane6 decided to retool Fighting is Magic into an original game with help from Lauren Faust (the creator of Friendship is Magic), who contributed character designs and story, and Skullgirls developer, Lab Zero Games, who offered them their proprietary engine to use for the game.
Mane6 announced that they would be starting an Indiegogo campaign on September 21, 2015, seeking to raise US$436,000 to complete the game. The game was successfully funded at US$586,346 by 10,513 backers, meeting all of the planned stretch goals, including macOS and Linux ports, a seventh playable character (a goat later revealed in 2020 to be a pirate named Shanty), and a stage and story mode chapter based on said character.
In the land of Foenum, various sapient hooved animals (known as ungulates) have built societies and cultures revolving around their natural habitats and live in harmony. However, this wasn’t always the case. Long ago, their lives were constantly threatened by the presence of predators. These predators have been banished to a magical realm, ushering in an era of peace for herbivores.
Now that peace has been thrown into jeopardy, as countless numbers of predators have escaped their supernatural prison, and are threatening to infiltrate Foenum en masse. “We will return. We will be hungry.”, they say.
To combat the encroaching threat, each race has sent their strongest, most skilled, bravest, and most willing champions to face the predator’s leader and close the door to their prison with an enchanted key. However, there is only one key, and each of these champions must duel to see which one of them will become the “Key Keeper”.
Why It Rocks
- Stellar art and animation, almost on par with (if not surpassing) the show it was originally a fan game of, while also standing out from most fighting games on the market.
- The characters are all well-designed and exude a ton of personality.
- Great voice acting, featuring several talented and professional actors including Tara Strong, Tia Ballard, Keith Ferguson, and more.
- Well-written story and premise.
- Amazing soundtrack, courtesy of composers Stuart Ferguson and Whitetail.
- Similar to Killer Instinct, the game features a dynamic music system where the stage music changes depending on certain factors, such as which character is in the lead or when the players are idle. Each character has their own variation of each stage theme.
- The game uses GGPO rollback netcode, ensuring smooth, lag-free online play (for the most part).
- Pixel Lobbies, where players can walk around a 16-bit style overworld, challenge each other to matches, chat, and explore the Salt Mines, where they can fight increasingly difficult predators and mine salt which they can use to purchase cosmetic items to decorate their characters with.
- A small, yet dedicated and friendly community.
- Fairly in-depth combat with plenty of in-game tutorials, combat trials, and even Smash Bros.-style target challenges to teach the player how to play and improve their skills.
- Players can even create their own combo trials for other players to practice with.
- Six different characters to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, with plenty of depth to each of their playstyles.
- An ambitious story mode using the same style as the pixel lobbies with plenty of collectibles to find, platforming sections, and epic boss battles to test your skills. Chapter 1, starring Arizona, was released with the game’s 1.0 update, with more chapters centering around the rest of the cast to be released in the coming months at no additional charge.
- Players used to games with larger character rosters may find issue with the game’s initially small roster, though their depth makes up for it.
- Story Mode difficulty was initially rather unbalanced, with even the so-called “Beginner” difficulty presenting quite a challenge. Bird enemies and bosses were a major source of frustration for some. Thankfully, Patch 1.0.3 added several QoL changes to make lower difficulties more manageable.
The game has been generally well-received, currently sitting at a Very Positive review score on Steam, and a 9.6 user score on Metacritic.
This game was one of four games to be used for open tournaments in the revamped EVO Online 2020 tournament set to be held from July 4 to August 2, 2020, alongside Skullgirls, Killer Instinct, and Mortal Kombat 11, all of which use rollback netcode.
- If the player owns a copy of Skullgirls, Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2, and BlazBlue: Central Fiction on Steam, they will gain in-game cosmetics based on said games.