Soul Crash, the new game published by Monster Galaxy developer Gaia Online and developed by Playplus, is a heavily-stylized fighting game for the Facebook platform. Players design a custom character, equip them and then take them through a series of battles in order to regain their lost memory and prove their combat supremacy. It was the 19th fastest-growing Facebook game by MAU this week.
The bulk of Soul Crash’s gameplay is formed of battle sequences. Here, teams of three fighters square off against each other in one-on-one tag team battles. The player does not have direct control over their fighters — instead, both the player character and their opponent automatically move and unleash basic attacks, with their effectiveness determined by the respective characters’ statistics. The fight is not completely hands-off, however — as the player character successfully lands hits on their opponent, a series of “Soul Orbs” in the corner of the screen fill up. These orbs allow for the use of several special moves: the “tag” move brings in one of the other two fighters on the player’s team; the “counter” move reverses an opponents attack with an unblockable counterattack; and the “Soul” move unleashes a devastating “super attack”. Each of these costs varying amounts of Soul Orbs to perform — a Tag move costs half an Orb, a Counter a single Orb and a Soul takes two full orbs. Battles must be completed in order to level up, and upon reaching certain level milestones, players will encounter a “Boss” character that must be defeated in order to further the game’s story. Leveling up also lets the player increase their character’s statistics, allowing them to customize their play style.
Between battles, players may buy new equipment for their character, enchant weapons to be more effective and visit friends who are playing the game. The more friends a player has playing the game, the more bonus energy they are able to collect, allowing them to battle longer. Friends’ characters may also be recruited onto the player’s own battle team, though preset “mercenary” characters are also available if the player does not currently have any friends playing. Friends’ characters also appear as battle opponents — again, these are replaced by generic characters if the player does not have any friends playing.
The game features a weekly leaderboard facility for comparison with both worldwide players and friends. Players are ranked on the total number of wins in a week, their longest winning streak and the total number of battles in which they have participated. Since the game operates on an energy system, paying players are significantly more likely to top the leaderboards than free players simply by virtue of being able to participate in a greater number of battles.
Soul Crash uses Gaia Online’s recognizable big-eye anime style for a distinctive aesthetic that will be instantly familiar to fans of the website. The game features high-quality music and impressive visual effects during combat, making it fun to watch and play, particularly for fans of ludicrously exaggerated anime combat. The gameplay is simple but fun, and the social element of fighting alongside or against friends’ characters makes these friends feel more like other players rather than just resources to be tapped. There is currently no facility for simultaneous multiplayer battles between friends who are online at the same time, but the development team says it is working on this feature for the future (as well as squashing bugs which have popped up since launch). The team has been good about communicating regularly with the community via the official Facebook page, and also recognizes the fact that the vast majority of Facebook user comments on said page are of the “add me” variety, instead soliciting feedback via a dedicated web form.
Soul Crash currently has 390,000 monthly active users and 80,000 daily active users. The huge Gaia Online community will help bring a strong audience to this game, and the solid, simple and fun gameplay will help keep people interested, particularly when coupled with the audio-visual polish in evidence. Since Gaia Online’s users are already accustomed to the concept of monetized virtual items, the game also has the potential to enjoy a good degree of profitability from its most loyal users.
A highly-polished, fun battle game that offers something a little different from the norm.