Them’s Fightin’ Herds is a game I never thought I’d even be willing to give a chance, mainly because “Bro-nies” creep me every bit of the fuck out. There’s a whole ass subculture of weirdos who love the absolute hell out of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, so when I first herd (lol) that someone was working on a fighting game called Fighting is Magic in Fighter Maker 2, I didn’t pay it much attention since it was inevitably only going to appeal to a very specific crowd of people.
This is the part of Niche Gamer that I hate, where someone’s gotta be the one to bite the bullet and review the most skin-crawling, creepiest of niche games, and the console version just so happened to land in my inbox so here we are. After some ugly crying, I managed to slap myself back to composure and decided I’d go head first into a game that I had zero interest in ever touching.
Them’s Fightin’ Herds
Publisher: Modus Games
Platforms: Windows PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (Reviewed)
Release Date: October 18th, 2022
Players: 1-2, local or online
Price: $19.99 USD
It was music to my ears when I heard that Hasbro sent the team at Mane6 an official cease and desist for using their IP without permission, but then the series creator Lauren Faust decided to help them create a new cast of quadrupeds that were unique to their game, so the nightmare unfortunately continues to live on with Them’s Fightin’ Herds.
In all seriousness, I remember seeing MLP: FiM when my step-daughter was little and thought it was actually kind of cute, so I understood how people enjoyed the show – but I will never understand the people who became obsessed with drawing/consuming/being/fantasizing about ponies.
Them’s Fightin’ Herds has a lot of the same charm that it’s source material has, and I actually found myself giggling at times when something ridiculous happens. As this is a fighter, you only get brief snippets of each character’s personality during spoken quips before each round, but the part of TFH that shines the most is unfortunately the most underdeveloped part: The single player story.
Playing the single player story, Them’s Fightin’ Herds tells the tale of mystical predators that have been unleashed in the world of Fœnum and each of the areas/cities will need to send their champions in order to fight for the right to go off in search of a key. Chapter 1 focuses on their country themed calf, Arizona and her trip from the prairie through multiple areas only to eventually get thwarted by Oleander at the end of the chapter.
Chapter 2 is apparently going to feature Velvet the reindeer, but it’s not in the game yet, nor is the basic plot of the story mode fully fleshed out, but it’s pretty intricate and interesting thus far. In fact, I’d wager that this game might actually have been more fun and successful had it been designed as an action/adventure with fighting game elements instead of a straight up fighting game that also happened to have a single player story.
The story features both a retro styled look as the overworld is similar to 16bit SNES games, but fighting sections include platforming (which isn’t that great due to relying on the fighting game jumping mechanics) and some straight up gauntlet battles against shadow predators such as wolves, snakes, panthers, and bears. I’m not sure why, but something about the story mode in TFH kind of reminded me of Dragon Ball Z: Super Saiya Densetsu.
Outside of the story mode, Them’s Fightin’ Herds is a fairly standard four button fighter. Similar to Arc System Works titles, attacks are made with a light/medium/heavy attack button and a fourth button that in this case deploys magic attacks. Combat is easy to get into but difficult to master, much like Skullgirls, which this game also borrows the engine from.
There’s also a pretty good tutorial system included that not only teaches you how to attack, but both simple and advanced combos, as well as throw tech, and other advanced techniques like air dashing and teching out of air combos. Thankfully, combat here isn’t nearly as deep as BlazBlue or Guilty Gear, but it’s quite fun.
Arizona likes to attack with elbow drops, dropkicks, and dashing headbutts, while other characters like Shanty prefer quick acrobatic dives and wall hangs. This makes for an interesting mix up of styles as each of the characters truly feels unique, but it also highlights the lack of variety available.
In preparing for this Them’s Fightin’ Herds review, I went back and watched several of the fights from this past EVO and found that of the seven characters, only four of them really ever saw any competitive play. Arizona and Oleander were in almost every single fight in top 12, while all seven characters made at least one appearance, several of the more complicated ones rarely saw any tournament time.
I won’t say that the fighters aren’t balanced, but from what I saw, Arizona or Oleander are in almost every match with characters like Pom, Paprika, and Velvet being far less viable. It makes sense as Pom relies too much on setting up her assist characters, Velvet is pretty vulnerable at close range, and Paprika is extremely vulnerable to punish if you mess up a teleport.
For what it currently is, Them’s Fightin’ Herds definitely lends more appeal to the extremely niche audience who both enjoys fighters and the source material that inspired the game. Perhaps with a little more development, TFH could actually become a solid entry point for a younger crowd to get into competitive fighters that aren’t quite so complicated, but for now Mane6 has an uphill battle to draw in a bigger fanbase.
On top of that, the game still feels like a concept that’s being fleshed out, so it’s tough to recommend even at $19.99. There’s also a season pass available which is clearly meant to help fund development at $19.99, but this only further makes the recommendation more difficult because this brings the total cost to $40.
Despite my initial hesitations, I actually have been having quite a bit of fun with Them’s Fightin’ Herds, but there’s still a lot left to do to get this game to where it feels more complete.
Them’s Fightin’ Herds was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by Modus Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Them’s Fightin’ Herds is now available for PC (via Steam), Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation consoles.