At first glance, Under Night In-Birth might seem like another wildly complicated and confusing anime fighting game. Hell, it might seem like the most confusing of them all, with the series’ increasingly indecipherable subtitles coming alongside a chaotic-looking cast of characters and a truly unhinged story mode. The surface veneer of the series paints the picture of a complicated and confusing fighting game that is simply too weird to understand.
The reality of this game couldn’t be anything further than that, though. Underneath the wild aesthetic, which is weird for the sake of being weird, Under Night In-Birth houses some of the most polished, deliberate and satisfying gameplay I’ve ever experienced in a fighting game, and a robust tutorial that is unmatched by any other game. Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late[cl-r] may not introduce a massive amount of new content, but with a debut on the Nintendo Switch, this re-release provides the avenue for a whole new group of gamers to catch that Under Night In-Birth fever.
Make no mistake, this new version of Under Night In-Birth is not a massive relaunch in the same vein as Ultra Street Fighter IV or Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2. Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late[cl-r] is an updated version of Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late[st], but adds just one new playable character, the ice-wielder Londrekia. Aside from that, it’s a free update to Late[st] that brings roster-wide balance and moveset changes.
So if you’re an existing player, this thankfully means that you have just a small investment to make to get back up to date. You really just need to drop £7.39 for the Londrekia DLC, though a £15.99 upgrade pack is also available with more cosmetics. If you’ve never owned the game before or you’re looking to buy it on Nintendo Switch, this re-release is a solid deal and even packs in all of the previous colour and announcer DLC as a bonus. As a massive fan of the game, I’ve longed for more characters or even new modes, so the small amount of new content on offer here is a bit of a bummer.
Still, the stuff that’s new in Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late[cl-r] is an absolute delight. Londrekia is a wonderful new addition to the cast, and a welcome sight after he was canned from the original 2011 roster for having overly-complicated gameplay elements. Those gameplay ideas were eventually splintered off into other characters, so he has a brand new toolkit. These consisting of a golden staff and ice abilities, making him the perfect complement to other elemental characters in the game.
His abilities can be a little tricky to get the hang of at first, but once you put some time in with him and get a hang of it, seeing the frosty fighter glide around the screen as he freezes opponents in place and flings deadly crystals is oh so satisfying.
The other big thing with this version of the game is that, for the first time ever, Under Night In-Birth is playable on the Nintendo Switch. The game runs flawlessly on Nintendo’s hybrid handheld, with visuals looking as sharp as ever and load times hardly ever being a major hassle. The online community on Nintendo Switch likely won’t be as active or bustling as on PC or PlayStation 4, but it’s still nice to have a way to bring the experience on the go for when I’m really itching to practice those Akatsuki strings.
My thoughts on Under Night In-Birth haven’t changed at all over the years – just read my Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] review for more. It has been, and still is one of the most polished, satisfying and fun fighting games on the market. The skill ceiling is high enough for hardcore veterans to find plenty of tech to learn and master, while still offering enough accessibility and tutelage for even the most casual and inexperienced players to get a taste of the flashy, incredibly crazy action of the game.
All of that gameplay polish is wrapped up in a slick and stylish aesthetic that delivers some of the best fighting game music and most memorably characters in recent years, which is all basically to say this: if you haven’t played Under Night In-Birth yet, what the hell are you waiting for?