A quick review, and why we should support this game inspired by Filipino heroes
Every gamer knows the legendary titles Street Fighter (SF), Mortal Kombat (MK) and Tekken. These fighting games test our skills, reactions, memory, and endurance, but above all they hook us for their well-written and rich plot and the background stories of each character.
When you search for “Filipino fighting game” online, there’s only one entry so far and it’s called Bayani: Fighting Game, alternatively known as Bayani: Kanino Ka Kakampi? Philippines-based indie game studio, Ranida Games, is responsible for developing the game that puts historical figures of the Philippine revolution into the spotlight. The one-on-one, anime-style fighting game was launched on Steam Early Access last year on Independence Day, and has since been in constant development.
The creators of Bayani did not only intend to produce a fun and engaging game that showcases a cast of characters who reflect the abundant culture of the country, it also aims to help educate people on the history of the Philippines.
The game’s main selling point is its impressive roster of characters, based on real-life figures from Filipino history. Currently, there are eight playable characters, reimagined Filipino revolutionary leaders, politicians, and explorers mostly from the country’s Spanish colonial era namely, Joe (Jose Rizal), Dre (Andres Bonifacio), Rio (Apolinario Mabini), Tonio (Antonio Luna), Leon (Emilio Aguinaldo), Fernando(Ferdinand Magellan), Oria (Gregoria de Jesús), and Lolang Tsora (Melchora Aquino).
Bayani’s characters and storyline, however, do not present actual history or reinforce political concepts. Instead, the game is set in an alternate universe in the far future, in the the Neorepublic of the Philippines and Europe. It was amusing to see famous heritage spots in the Philippines such as Bagumbayan as stages of the game.
“We want the cast of Bayani to be their own characters that reference their real-life counterparts, and one of the best ways we can do that is through the gameplay,” explains Benjamin Banta, studio head and CEO of Ranida Games.
Bayani enables cultural awareness in the most entertaining way possible. The mere fact that it is a Filipino product, promoting our culture and heritage, should be enough to urge us to support it.
Just this month, Lolang Tsora based on Filipina revolutionary Melchora Aquino was released. In-game she is a sluggish old woman with low health points, but she has enough tools and attacks to keep her enemies at distance. Her attacks can be categorized into three distinct magic types, light magic that draws power from the moon to push opponent away, dark flames that draw from an ethereal Bakunawa and burns enemies, as well as combined light and dark magic that hits the opposer multiple times for huge damage.
“With the release of our eighth character, our core roster is now officially complete,” says Robert Cruz, the game director. “The ninth secret character will be released as free DLC (downloadable content) to everyone in the future. It was added as a mini-quest social goal in our Kickstarter campaign so having it as a DLC seems more fitting,” he adds.
Weaving together our rich heritage with a groundbreaking fictional narrative, Bayani brings history to life with style and verve. The game is in an accessible, easy-to-play format—with a competitive streak pro gamers will enjoy—in order to share the unconventional chronicle of the past with each and every kind of players, regardless of skill level. One could say it is a slightly less complicated SF, but with the same oomph.
In terms of fighting mechanics, the game adheres to the normal fighting game controls where there are three types of attack commands: light, medium, heavy. Certain combinations allow players to perform combo attacks, and air juggling is also possible.
“We can now start development for other features of the game, such as Story Mode, an updated Arcade Mode and a more robust training room. This also means we can divert more resources to online multiplayer, with a proper lobby,” Robert beams.
“This game is our proof that incremental updates and changes can lead to a better product,” says Benjamin. “The current state of Bayani is far from what it used to be a couple of years back. The early access phase is very helpful not only for the game but also for us as game developers. It’s been a continuous learning process with the help of the fighting game professionals and player feedback to make the game better. This is also our own way of showcasing that Filipinos are capable of creating games at par with the best, and hoping that this may open more opportunities for us and to our fellow Filipino game developers.”
Locally-made video games penetrating the global market rarely happen. Bayani enables cultural awareness in the most entertaining way possible. The mere fact that it is a Filipino product, promoting our culture and heritage, should be enough to urge us to support it.