Ever since I was an ankle-biter, I’ve been a huge fan of fighting games. In my household as a boy, games like Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, and Killer Instinct were in heavy rotation. Hell, my brother and I even played Shaq Fu. Shaq Fu! And we were GOOD at it. No one is good at Shaq Fu. But I digress. Fighting games are kinda my thing.
So it makes perfect sense that a collectible card game that functioned as a table-top fighting game would catch my attention. Universal Fighting System, from Jasco Games, is just such a game. Think of it as the insane love child of King of Fighters and Magic The Gathering. Two players face off, head to head, each with their own character. Their fighter. They use the cards in their deck to play different blocks, attacks, abilities, and more. All while using actual licensed characters from many of your favorite games.
What makes the game really interesting is that it isn’t a paint-by-numbers CCG. In a lot of combat card games, you’re summoning monsters to do battle for you. In this game, you’re simply attacking. That very basic distinction led to an innovative play system that mimics the ebb and flow of battle in a fighting video game.
When you attack, your attack can be enhanced by the natural abilities your character has (such as the ability to add a damage bonus to the attack by discarding one of your opponents cards), or by other card abilities. Then your opponent can block the attack. Just like in a fighting game, they have to block the attack correctly, or they’ll take damage. And Throw attacks will deal damage even when blocked. Because…you know…you threw them. Then they can counter attack, giving them a chance to sneak a hit in on your turn.
The similarities to fighting game mechanics don’t stop there. Everything from whether you blocked an attack with a low, mid, or high block to building up Momentum (which serves as a kind of “Super Bar”) are featured in the game.
Like many games, especially some fighting games (looking at you, Street Fighter), it’s easy to pick up, but takes time to master. It’s a game that takes dedication. But gamers, and anyone else who enjoy strategic games, should find a lot to enjoy with this game. The flexibility of the fighting system allows for almost every situation to have a response.
In other words, this isn’t a game where the most expensive deck necessarily wins. You gotta have the skills to back it up.
When I got into UFS, it was early 2007. I was introduced to the game by a friend (The Hypocritics Podcast’s own “Toothbrush Thomas”, Myles) and was hooked. I could play as Ken from Street Fighter, one of my favorite characters. I played until personal stuff got me out of the game in 2009, but I recently picked it back up.
Let me tell you: It is just as fun and addictive as I remember it to be, with a plethora of characters (all with different abilities) to choose from. Do you like Morrigan (my character of choice right now) from the Darkstalkers series? UFS has her. Do you play as Andy Bogard from King of Fighters? UFS has you covered.
Do you like Mega Man? YOU CAN PLAY AS HIM, TOO!
And, according to a credible source, many more characters and licenses are on the way, and not just from fighting games. It is the UNIVERSAL Fighting System, after all.
Here’s hoping for Firefly characters.
———————–About the Author———————–
Carl “DeusDragon” Vaughan is a self-professed nerd, film (and wine) connoisseur, father of two, husband, and avid reader. He has a knack for podcasting and is the backbone of The Hypocritics podcast. He considers himself an expert in Recasting movies and Top Fives. Carl has played UFS off and on since 2007, most recently sporting an Andy deck at the Omaha PTC in April.