Port roundup: Them’s Fightin’ Herds, Chaos;Head / Chaos;Child Double Pack & Pretty Girls Escape

With Them’s Fightin’ Herds, the Chaos;Head NoAH / Chaos;Child Double Pack on the Switch and Pretty Girls Escape, we’re looking at another trio of games that was recently ported over to consoles.

Them’s Fightin’ Herds review (PS4/PS5)

We first learned about Them’s Fightin’ Herds over two years ago when it burst onto the PC scene, where it was extremely well received. Because it looked like a silly take on the fighting genre (essentially featuring My Little Ponies duking it out), we were surprised to see that the game’s popularity didn’t wane as the novelty wore off either, so when console ports were announced we were eager to finally try this one out for ourselves. It’s out for all major consoles through publisher Modus Games, and we tested the PS4 version.

The resemblance to My Little Pony isn’t random – the fighters in Them’s Fightin’ Herds were designed by Lauren Faust, who previously worked on the My Little Pony franchise. It seems like just about the most unlikely candidate for a fighting game, but here we are – a fully featured fighter with all the usual modes: arcade, versus, online and training modes are all accounted for. In a creative twist, there’s also a story mode that lets you traverse an overworld as you bump into enemies – which then triggers a 2D fight. You’ll also run into a few boss fights, and the story even features some mild platforming.

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Most surprising of all, however, is that the fighting mechanics are rock solid, with a four button system that’s comparable to games like BlazBlue. Three buttons account for light, medium and strong attacks, while a fourth is meant for your magic abilities. You’ll have to charge up a meter to use it, but depending on your character this gives you access to a diverse range of styles and attacks, with some characters using magic to go airborne for a bit while others deal instant damage or pull their opponent in close. It’s a very robust system with well balanced characters and plenty of depth – way more than you’d think if you were judging this on a surface level.

One big downside is that the game has a very small roster of characters though – our review version only contained the base game, and while there’s a season pass you won’t even reach double digits on the roster without it. Buy both the game and the season pass, and you’re looking at a $40/€40 purchase – a price point where it faces stiff competition, especially in terms of content. It’s easy to see why Them’s Fightin’ Herds was so beloved on the PC, but you might want to wait for a sale.

Chaos;Head NoAH / Chaos;Child Double Pack review (Switch)

I remember playing Chaos;Child when it launched on the PlayStation Vita, and learned that it was actually preceded by another game: Chaos;Head NoAH. That game had never been released in the West though, and as I don’t speak Japanese I was out of luck – until now, as Spike Chunsoft just released a double pack that contains both titles for the Nintendo Switch.

Having now played both games, almost 10 years apart, it’s easy to see the similarities. Although set in different time periods, both games deal with a series of murders dubbed the ‘New Generation Madness”. In each game the protagonist is a teenager, but Takuma (Chaos;Head) deals with the situation very differently than Takuru (Chaos;Child) does. Where Takuma prefers to be reclusive, Takuru wants to get to the bottom of it all, despite the dangers to himself. Perhaps fueled by the events of Chaos;Head that took place years earlier, he grabs equipment from his school’s newspaper club and fancies himself quite the detective/reporter.

chaos head

Both games also feature the Delusion Trigger mechanic, where scenes aren’t steered by simple dialogue choices but rather a choice between positive and negative delusions. This can feel a little gimmicky on your first playthrough, but your choices also shape your subsequent playthroughs, which is a very interesting way to approach a visual novel – and makes for a massive amount of gameplay as each game is roughly 40 hours long if you want to see all of it.

This new Switch port of Chaos;Child also has a few subtle changes from the Vita version I played earlier. They finally took the effort to translate the in-game map, and the translation feels like it was tweaked a little as well – though perhaps some of that is due to the fact that the readability could be better on this Switch version, for instance by including speaker tags and/or the use of quotation marks. The translation in Chaos;Head feels like it has some rough edges as well, though as I said, I don’t speak Japanese so I can’t judge if it’s an issue with the source material. I’m mostly just nitpicking though, as these are great visual novels that we’re welcoming on the Switch with open arms.

Pretty Girls Escape review (PS4)

Ah, another Pretty Girls release from Eastasiasoft that was ported over after an earlier PC release. But while some games in the series have been very descriptive with their titles, we had no idea what Pretty Girls Escape was going to be about. Here’s a closer look at the PS4 version.

Escape has a stage mode and a challenge mode, and both are based around similar mechanics that evoke memories of games like Tetris, Columns and Bust-a-Move, but with a twist, as you’ll want your character to ‘escape’ the puzzle by guiding them (in their tile form) to the bottom of the screen. You do this by matching up tiles of the same color to make them disappear, but erase them in the wrong order and you might get stuck not being able to match the remaining tiles. The ability to slide all tiles over to the left or right might offer reprieve then, but not always – careful planning is sometimes required.

pretty girls escape

A different Pretty Girl character stars in each stage, and brings different obstacles to the table. Some tiles can’t be moved, and others need to be activated twice before they’re gone, adding small twists to a mostly rather casual puzzler. Challenge mode is a bit more puzzle-oriented in that sense, as the levels have been carefully designed here – with fewer tiles and often only one way to complete the puzzle.

Content wise, the game has eight girls and each girl has six stages to play through. You’ll also unlock different outfits doing so, which you can check out in the dressing room option if you enjoy the Pretty Girls aspect of the game. For us, it’s a decent casual puzzler that you can spend an hour or two with – which will also net you a nice easy platinum trophy. Or two, as the PS4 and PS5 versions are bundled together.

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