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Can Fantasy Strike make fighting games more accessible?

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Fighting series like Street Fighter and Smash Bros. are among the most popular in gaming, but they can also be very intimidating. A combination of complex rules and difficult-to-master controls makes the genre daunting for many new players. Fantasy Strike — which launches as a Steam “early access” title today — is hoping to change that.

The game is being headed up by David Sirlin, former lead designer on Capcom’s Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, and it includes a number of features aimed at making it easier for new players to understand and play. Perhaps most notable, every move in the game can be performed with a single button press. Similarly, the game’s health bars show exactly how many hits you can sustain, making the game easier to parse at a glance. Fantasy Strike also supports a range of inputs — including keyboards, joysticks, and traditional controllers — and offers both local and online multiplayer.

This isn’t the first title to try to broaden the audience for fighting games; 2013’s Divekick was a Street Fighter-style experience that could be played with only two buttons. But Fantasy Strike’s creators are hoping that it can strike the delicate balance between depth and accessibility, making it appealing to both newcomers and fighting game veterans. “From its inception, Fantasy Strike has been about launching experts and new players past the usual training mode drudgery as fast as possible,” says Stirlin. “We want you enjoying the intricate dance of fighting games in minutes, not in weeks or months.”

The early access version of Fantasy Strike will be available later today, while a PS4 version is expected sometime in 2018.