Review: KILL la KILL -IF


The Clothes Make The Fans

I’ve been a hardcore fan of anime-based video games since my earliest years of gaming. I still remember playing Dragon Ball Z: The Legend and how awesome it was reliving the entirety of Dragon Ball Z, starting from Raditz, all the way to the Kid Buu fight. It was a simple 3 vs 3 3D anime fighter, but it was so much fun. I also have fun memories playing the Gundam, and other Weekly Shonen Jump series games on various platforms. Don’t get me started with Digimon Rumble Arena. Those were the days.

Not that Anime games stopped being good in that generation—I would say quite the contrary. While we did have some travesties such as Dragon Ball Z Sagas, Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles (& 2) and other games here and there—I ironically talked about them in my April Fools post from three years ago (keyword is “April Fools”.) I had a great time with anime games in the PS2 and Game Cube era. I spent a lot of hours playing most of the Weekly Shonen Jump-based anime games, especially the Dragon Ball and Naruto games. While I played many multiplayer classics with my friends, anime games were how I always spent time with my friends back in the day.

KILL la KILL -IF (PS4, PC Nintendo Switch)
Developer: APLUS
Publisher Arc System Works
Released: July 26th 2019
MSRP: $59.99

Fast-forward to the past few years, excluding Dragon Ball FighterZ, which I consider more a traditional fighter than just an “anime game”, many anime games have been pretty mediocre, especially in 2018 with Gintama RumbleSeven Deadly SinsMy Hero’s One Justice, and this year with terrible Jump Force. There are pretty good games like Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise and Koei Tecmo’s Attack on Titan games to a lesser extent, but that’s it. All hope is lost. But then Arc System works revealed KILL la KILL -IF. The game is far from perfect, but it does give some hope that it’s possible to create a decent Anime fighting game, or a decent anime game in general without fully taking the traditional fighter route. 

The game offers an original Story Mode with different what if scenarios, Versus Mode, including Free Battle, which is local play and both Player and Ranked matches, those being online play. From a netplay perspective, I haven’t had a any issues playing the game in any of the three platforms, but like any other game, your millage may vary. However, I did face some snags with players abusing certain character gimmicks—similar to many anime brawlers, but when played with decent people, it definitely has some good depth. 

While I’m a fan of the original anime series, and read some of the manga, I didn’t really feel the What-If stories too much. I didn’t find it too interesting and difficult to get hooked to it, but at the least the cutscenes were beautiful to look at. I found myself going to gallery mode to watch both cutscenes for both Satsuki and Ryuko all over again. The cutscenes were really gorgeously animated and are worth the watch outside the story via the game’s gallery mode. It would make decent OVAs if the story telling wasn’t a little stale.

There’s also Practice mode including a basic tutorial of the basics of the game—not very robust but it’s like many anime fighting games. It has a survival challenge, like survival mode in many games as well as Cover challenge, which is a horde mode where you fight an onslaught of COVERS, in different settings such as under a minute, until you die, or 100. The game’s training mode is decent too, offering the basic features such as adjustable health, recovery, adjustable SP, and the like. I just wish there was a record mode too, but at least you can control the opposite character with a second controller.

Now let’s discuss the focus of the dish, of course—the gameplay. KILL la KILL -IF is an 3D Anime brawler, like the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm games, or most recent, My Hero’s One Justice. The game has three type of basic attacks—close, long, and break attacks, in which you combine to create some nifty combos alongside the jumping button. When pressing L plus any of the attack buttons, you can perform special attacks.

Additionally, when pressing R, which is guard, alongside L, you perform a Bloody Valor, which is like a Rock, Paper. Scissor sequence in which if you win all three, you reach Valor Overpowered, allowing you to perform your ultimate attack for a one-hit K.O.  While the game is more casual, the game isn’t a button smasher as doing so can leave you quite open to be punished. I wouldn’t call the game mind games either, like your traditional fighter, but it’s certainly not a dead brain game. I really hope it stays that way and a small community develops for the game, similar to the Gekitou Ninja Taisen games.

Overall, I thought this game was a right step until making anime fighting games at least decent again. It wasn’t the hot mess that the past few anime(s) were in the past year. It offers enough fan service without ruining the intrigity of the game too much with terrible gimmicks, at least not to the point it ruins the game. The game is still an anime game as its core with its simplicity, but it doesn’t need to be too technical and deep. It’s a must for any anime games fan or fan of the Kill la Kill franchise.

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KILL la KILL -IF reviewed by Christian Chiok



Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
How we score:  The Japanator reviews guide


Christian Chiok
Christian ChiokContributor   gamer profile

Christian has been a gamer since his early childhood. He's a big fan of the King of Fighters and the Metal Slug series. Additionally, Christian enjoys cooking, listening to music, watching anime ... more + disclosures



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