The appropriately titled Wavedash Games, comprised of a number of developers that worked on the Super Smash Bros. Brawl mod “Project M,” has created their own platform fighter in the form of Icons: Combat Arena. Launching in Early Access, can these heroes smash like the best of them?
Hit It or Quit It – Icons: Combat Arena Early Access
If you’ve played any entry in the Super Smash Bros. series, you’ll know what to expect in Icons…because the game is more or less the same thing. Players must knock their opponent out of one of five arenas, using regular attacks, charged smash attacks, dodges and rolls, grabs, and special attacks that are determined by the direction used. There is even a percentage-based mechanic and a stage called “Wavedash Arena” – it wears its inspiration on its sleeve.
Unlike other contenders like Slap City, however, this one lacks any sort of soul or character. Starting out, players can choose from three characters: the heavy hitter orc Xana (who looks like Overwatch’s Zarya), the energy-wielding warrior Ashani, and the goat-like speedy character Kidd. There are other characters that can be purchased, but it feels like each character is just a generic adaptation of ones from more noticeable releases.
This extends to the movesets for each character – most characters have abilities that are 1:1 recreations of those found in Super Smash Bros. Kidd is especially guilty of this – he plays exactly like Fox, down to his “shine” counter. An homage is fine; a blatant copy…not so much.
If the game played exactly like Super Smash Bros, this might all be forgiven, but the engine present here is lacking. The attacks don’t have the satisfying impact that players have come to expect, which is not good in a game like this. There are no items either, and all stages are variations of the same flat terrain with some platforms. Everything may be tourney legal, but the end result is sterile.
To add insult to injury, more than half of the cast can be purchased with in-game “Spectra” currency, or for $24.99. This in-game currency is milked for all its worth; you can buy skins, emotes, holograms, victory poses, platforms, player icons, tokens, and charms. If that’s not enough, there are also loot boxes (dubbed “Portal Packs”) that start at $2.99. It’s a money grab in poor taste.
Icons: Combat Arena might copy Super Smash Bros’ platform fighting formula, but it lacks the soul that made Nintendo’s offerings so great. In its current state, it is an easy pass.