Well-placed strokes are an important thing in Samurai Gunn, the new, super-fun, four-player fighter for PC that dabbles pixel art with Kurosawa. That applies not only to strategy in a game where one hit will kill you, but also to the game’s visual flair. A horizontal slash scores the arena like a rice paper screen being sliced when you jab your opponent. The effect of chaining together several of these takedowns is striking. It makes you feel like a badass. It’s stylish.
It’s true that we’ve seen more than a few of these lo-fi fighters, as the local multiplayer scene has been making a comeback. A thing you find with the ones that rise to the top is that they make bold stylistic choices. You see this with Towerfall’s bright, high-contrast cisterns. You see it with STARWHAL’s airbrushed marine life and light cycle grids. Though not technically a fighter, you see this with Hokra’s field of Mondrian cubes. That anyone can pick up and play these games is part of their appeal, but the simplicity of play demands a hot art direction. Watch and see.