→ Daniel Kerber (LOCAP)

Do you like Smash Bros.? If the answer to that is no, you’re probably insane. If the answer to that is yes, then great; Rivals of Aether is likely up your alley! Rivals of Aether is essentially a modern Super Smash Bros. Melee, and it’s great. The game is currently in Steam Early Access, with plans for it to come to the Xbox One later this year. Right now, the game only has six characters and a handful of stages, but what it has now is extremely solid.

All you can do now is the standard battle mode, which has full controller support for up to four players locally or two online. I use an Xbox 360 controller, but you can use the Wii U Gamecube Adapter with a bit of tinkering. Before getting into the game, you can change settings for the match, including the stock, the time limit, and more. You can also choose between basic stages and Aether stages. Basic stages have hazards, while Aether stages are the same stages without hazards. It’s kind of like the Final Destination variants of stages in Smash 4. Aether stages are used online, so I recommend practicing on those.

Upon entering the game, the first thing you’ll likely notice are the characters. Many of their moves take inspiration from Smash, such as Zetterburn’s up special being the same as Fox’s in Smash. That’s another thing. All of these characters are original designs, and they’re actually really nice looking. All of the characters are recognizable, and their moves make sense and flow with their design. However, despite some of their moves being heavily inspired from Smash, every character has an interesting mechanic. For example, Kragg can transform the stage with rocks and pillars. Orcane can create a puddle which he can teleport to, or perform a strong attack on it to increase its range and power. These unique movesets make every fight feel different and unique, and the fact that you can pretty much terraform stages makes it definitely stand out from other fighting games.

This game has one more factor that makes it different from Smash. It’s fundamental mechanics are incredibly different. First, there’s no shielding. Shielding is replaced with parrying, which is like a counter from Smash. When the parry lands, your opponent will stunned for a short time, letting you follow-up with a huge combo or a kill move. Second, wavedashing is back. It works just like in Super Smash Bros. Melee, so by air dodging into the ground at an angle, you can slide a little ways at a higher speed than running. Using wavedashing is incredibly useful here, but by no means is it necessary, in fact, no advanced tech is needed.

Rivals of Aether is extremely accessible; anyone can play it and instantly be ready to go online and have good matches. Sure, advanced tech helps, but to be good at the game it’s completely unnecessary, unlike other fighting games. Despite its few shortcomings, such as the mediocre music, Rivals of Aether is great. It’s incredibly balanced, and with more content on the way, such as a single player mode, this game looks really promising.

Overall, I really liked Rivals of Aether.

Is it worth the price?: Almost. With more content coming, soon it’ll be very worth $14.99

I would recommend it to: Any fan of fighting games, especially competitive Smash Bros.

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