Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late [cl-r] Switch Review – Flashy Fighting Anime Awesomeness

Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late [cl-r] (UNICLR from now on) is French Bread’s latest revision to it’s 2012 arcade 2D anime fighter. Now don’t let the crazy name that Capcom could only dream of or the age of the original release deter you because French Bread has been solidly updating the series all this time leaving the current UNICLR being to its original arcade counterpart what Street Fighter Alpha 2 is to Street Fighter II. 

The Under Night In-Birth universe is set in a not so distant future in which certain people known as In-births have special powers they’ve unlocked after being bitten by a void (a snake like creature). Once someone’s awoken they can harness the power of EXS to do some funky things typical of anime fighters such as shoot projectiles. When enough EXS gathers in an area a Hollow Night takes place and In-births gather in order to test their strength. Only in an anime styled game right? 

Yep, you tell him!

The characters in UNICLR are simply awesome, they are well designed with varied weapons including swords, scythes, daggers, whips, lasers and more. Their motivations all vary and different groups have banded together to either cause some chaos or try and stop it. Through Arcade mode and Chronicles mode we see a mix of anime slice of life humour and Gundam style who’s really in the right? Going on. This is also the perfect chance for Blazblue Cross Tag fans to learn more about the Under Night characters within that game.

There’s some funky colour palettes.

This is a 4 button fighter with light, medium, heavy and a special button used for supers, a low hop, barrier guard and charging a special gauge. Oddly for an anime fighter there’s no double jumping instead you can use the short hop (called an assault) to make an arched midair dash, this mixes up combos and strategy compared to other anime fighters leaving UNICLR a good bridge between traditional and anime fighting games. It also has a very Nintendo styled easy to learn hard to master gameplay as it features ‘press light attack repeatedly’ auto combos and has non restrictive revolver combos so you can press any of the attack buttons once in any order to combo, this also allows you to end a blockstring (a combo the opponent blocks while you try and get a hit in) with a nice quick, safe attack so you won’t get punished. 

Nothing is as satisfying as finishing a fight with a super.

What makes UNICLR unique compared to the competition is the GRD gauge. At the bottom of the screen in the middle is a gauge you and your opponent battle to fill quicker with a timer going round like a clock. When the cycle completes whoever has filled their GRD gauge more enters a vorpal state and gains increased attack power. The GRD gauge comes into everything you do, your shield for example, it stops chip damage, great, but it uses up your special meter, super attacks hit like a dumpster truck in UNICLR, so maybe you should save meter for that, but also when you guard attacks with your shield up you gain bonus GRD meter. The tactical play is endless and everyone will develop unique styles of play.

There is a huge amount of fantastically fast paced risk/reward gameplay from trying to get a GRD advantage in order to enter a vorpal state to a technique called veil off that lets you slowly drain your special meter to be in a powered up state but in you can use attacks that use special meter no matter how little you have left, allowing some all or nothing combo attempts. Veil off also allows for 3 special meter attacks in one combo as opposed to the default 2 but your opponent will be trying to block till your meter runs out.

The special attacks are just so cool.

The comprehensive tutorial can take you from any point in gaming experience from never played a fighting game all the way up to an expert and provide useful information. This is the first tutorial I’ve ever seen that will help you learn literally everything from teaching you that light attacks have few openings compared to heavy attacks, how to cancel attacks and chain them together all the up to fuzzys and okizeme. This is before each character’s unique combo challenges, making UNICLR a great entry point if you think you might be interested in fighting games.

The controls are very strict but the tutorial teaches you the most effective way of handling the various fighting game motions so it really balances out if you’re not an expert. I can now do the full circle motions needed for grappler characters better than ever despite the lack of any leniency on inputs. This however does make using the Joy-Cons quite difficult so you either need to get used to it or what I’d recommend any Switch fighting game fan to do and that buy a Hori D-pad Joy-Con, they are with every penny. 

So that’s how you do a full circle motion.

UNICLR has the usual fighting game modes, Arcade, Survival, Score attack, Time attack, online, Mission (for learning combos) but oddly the real meat of the story is found in Arcade mode and not the visual novel styled Chronicles mode. Chronicles is the prequel story of most of the characters in individual 30-60 minute blocks containing zero fighting action, just pure visual novel. I usually love visual novel style stories in fighting games but found Chronicles to be twice as long as it really needed to be, focussing far too much on the mundane details but on the other hand, I now finally understand what’s going on in the Under Night universe.

I love you Mika.

Online play is basic but does the job, there’s no lobbies just ranked and creating a room for casual play but it plays nice and smooth, even when I played someone from Japan and actually displays the frame delay which is nice.

Just a quick point for fans is that the only real difference between this and UNIST is one new character but then again this is Under Night In-Birth’s first ever Nintendo outing so that doesn’t matter so much on the Switch.

10 frame delay playing someone in Japan isn’t half bad.

The hand drawn sprite graphics look absolutely amazing in UNICLR on Switch and the unique character designs and gameplay styles mean there’s going to be at least some characters for everyone. The moves look suitably flashy and the game plays at such a pace that sometimes it’s hard to appreciate the details of the stages.

There is no English dub. Right now that’s out of the way the Japanese dub is so good there’s not a lot to actually miss, especially as Under Night never had an English dub in the first place (I’m looking at you Blazblue) and is set in Japan so makes more sense to be in Japanese anyway. The music is typical rock but catchy enough I sometimes find myself humming some of the tunes.

I can finally full circle motion in actual fights without having to jump in first.

The Nintendo Switch really is the little fighting game machine that could and is now lacking only a few fighting games. In particular the anime fighting selection is top notch, so why get UNICLR over the others? It’s an excellent bridge between your more traditional Street Fighter and King of Fighters style fighter over to anime fighters, it is the most beginner welcoming fighting game I’ve played thanks to its incredible tutorial that should not be overlooked and the characters, attacks and combos are freaking cool.

A huge thank you to Aksys Games and PQube for supplying the review code. Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late [cl-r] is available now both physically and digitally on the eShop for £34.99/€39.99/$39.99.

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