As I’m sure anyone who follows fighting games will tell you, the genre is currently in the midst of an extremely strong period in its history. Even if its biggest name Street Fighter V has struggled, other games like Tekken 7, UNIST, or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate have only increased in popularity and recognition, leading to one of the most stacked lineups of any Evo tournament ever this year. Despite all this, there was one game in particular that I’ve been obsessed with and eagerly awaiting for weeks, a tiny, free indie game made by one person being played in a small side tournament under the AnimEVO umbrella. That game is, of course, Harameself’s Ultra Fight Da ! Kyanta 2.
Da Kyanta 2 is a team-based game, taking cues from The King of Fighters and allowing players a choice of up to 3 characters to be played one after the other – once one loses, the next one’s up. These individual characters also have a myriad of customization options available to them, such as more health or being able to earn Super meter by walking, meaning that these team compositions can get pretty complex in terms of strategy. Paired with this is a focus on having dead simple input requirements; no half-circles, no flash-kick motions, you press a button and depending on if you’re standing, crouched or in the air you’ll do a specific move, which means that every character has a pretty pared down list of around 15 or so moves available to them.
This isn’t to say that the game is simple by any means – in fact, it’s one of the fastest and most absurd games I’ve ever played. Many attacks have a “start-up” of 1 or 2 frames, meaning they hit you near-instantly; almost every Super move does absurd damage and / or has a ridiculously large hit-range; many characters can cancel their regular moves into Supers, or cancel throws into Supers, or cancel, uh, Supers into Supers.
The characters themselves are of course the real stars of the show, and the diversity of play styles and abilities they use is one of the best parts of the game. Azuma-Deka is a private-eye alligator who shoots you with a gun; Anna is an ordinary-looking girl who also happens to be a poison-spitting tsuchinoko; Kinoko is a short mushroom girl that drops random patterns of rocks down onto the battlefield that both players have to avoid. Every character has something that seems almost completely unfair about their play style, so Azuma-Deka can juggle you with back-to-back Supers from across the screen with enough meter, or the purple robot Rare can just deploy a buzzsaw that stays on screen to annoy you for what feels like forever. Da Kyanta 2 takes the absurd spirit of games like Marvel vs Capcom 2 and condenses them into extremely short, explosive and exciting rounds.
Finally, I just want to highlight how genuinely amazing the art style is. One of the game’s biggest assets is its unique, weird and technicolor MS paint visuals paired with an entirely mouth-performed cacophony of sound design, and its loose, freeform anatomy reminds me a lot of Japanese artists like Choboraunyopomi or Ac-Bu. The game’s creator Harameself even drew some art for the tournament itself, which added a really nice touch to the proceedings.
It’s not only the game, of course, as any good fighting game needs a good community to rally behind it, and boy does Kyanta 2 deliver here too. Any time safety-loving construction man Blues took a round the chat erupted with “SAFETY FIRST”, and a surprise Kinoko pick in round 1 of grand finals set an all-caps shouting standard for the rest of the set. The event’s commentators Ryyudo and MiniMatt even showed up to the event in full cosplay as Blues and Azuma-Deka, and in spite of the stream’s many technical difficulties never lost momentum on their commentary and excitement. My favourite moment comes when someone off-camera asks Ryyudo if he’s coming to the Windjammers tournament that he’s qualified for, to which he almost instantly replies “I already told them, DQ me! I’m here for Kyanta!”
God damn I love this game. The entire tournament can be viewed in its entirety just below. Did I mention that it’s totally free, by the way?