Arika, the famed Japanese development house founded by one of the creators of Street Fighter II, has been out of the fighting game business for over a decade. That changed when the company revealed new details for its upcoming entry in the EX fighting series at EVO 2017, a game that was originally unveiled as an April Fools joke. This past week, we were treated with new direct-feed gameplay footage from both fighting game aficionado Maximilian and Arika itself.
Arika EX, or Fighting Layer EX, as some are tentatively calling the game, is a spiritual successor to the fan-favorite Street Fighter EX series. The EX games were known for bringing Street Fighter into 3D, as well as introducing mechanics that were considered ridiculous at the time. These included the ability to cancel super moves into other super moves, unblockable specials that stunned, and abnormally short recovery windows after whiffing attacks. Arika EX includes many of the same beloved mechanics and characters from the Street Fighter EX games, and you can see the proof in Arika's recent gameplay.
The game is still a work in progress, but we haven't had clear gameplay footage or impressions like this until now. Maximilian has uploaded two videos detailing the game in its current build: one showing his HD gameplay with minimal commentary and another breaking down the game and Arika's place in fighting game history. He notes that Arika hasn't made a fighting game since 2000, and recounts the thrilled reception of the EVO announcement and his personal hype for the game as a longtime fan of the Street Fighter EX series.
Both are informative and interesting videos, but they're also indicative of the modern resurgence of fighting games and the ways that their returning popularity allows developers to revitalize themselves and their franchises. The King of Fighters XIV and Dragon Ball FighterZ are good examples of this, and Arika's decision to announce Arika EX as an April Fools joke was a very clever way to garner excitement and demand for a game that would supposedly never come out. Now the developer is officially rejoining the fighting game landscape with a beta for Arika EX later this year, and aiming for a release window of "April Fools 2018?"