Hololive fan-games appear to be having a moment right now. First, there’s the surprisingly good survivors-like Holocure, and now a fighting game offering in Idol Showdown. This is to say nothing of the RPG’s, flash games and platformers also coming out of the fan-game scene. Going into Idol Showdown, I was initially apprehensive. I have precious little experience with fighting games, but thankfully it does a decent job of acclimating newer players to the controls.
For the uninitiated, Idol Showdown is a free fan-made fighting game from Besto Game Team and starring VTubers from the Hololive agency. Everything from the moves to the characters and palette swaps are a reference to Hololive streams and in-jokes. When the fight is over, the screen zooms out to a very Youtube-like layout complete with a chatbox and faux-recommendations. Even the voice lines are clipped from the streamers themselves, although several of them have since provided voice lines for the developer to add into the game. There are eight playable characters taken from the agency’s Japanese branch, though plenty of members from the English and Indonesian speaking branches also make cameo. The developers also teased additional characters, such as Usada Pekora.
The tutorial is the first stop for beginners like myself, and its a quick and robust affair that takes you through all the main mechanics in a few minutes. It does a good job of introducing basic move inputs and concepts like special meter (called the Superchat Meter in Idol Showdown). It doesn’t go into detail about concepts like zoning and mix-ups or explain higher level tactics or overall strategy. Now, if you’re serious about getting into fighting games, then any game tutorial will have to be supplemented with plenty of outside reading and video guides, but as an absolute beginner I would have appreciated a bit more guidance on “when” to use a move rather than just how.”
On top of a tutorial, theres also the Virtual Frontier that tasks players from saving the CEO of Cover Corp (and frequent meme subject) Motoaki “Yagoo” Tanigo from a rampant computer virus. Though it’s less a ‘story’ mode than a replayable gauntlet with stage modifiers and roguelite pickups, passives, and consumables. While Virtual Frontier mainly serves as a vehicle for yet more Hololive VTuber references, it also works well as a single-player activity for those who want to practice outside of training mode. After several runs fighting the same few CPUs, opponents can become a little tiresome, but that small roster can be a boon to beginners who don’t need to learn as many match-ups. Additionally, a selection of items offered at the start of a run gives options for an easy combo mode, auto-blocks, or a hard mode to tailor it to your skill level, though even my fat-fingered button mashing was enough to make it through most fights without needing them.
Visually the game is impressively stylized. While there are a couple of moves that lack a bit of impact or are perhaps a bit unclear, generally the sprite work is top notch. Even some of the more out-there attacks, like Coco’s raptor-riding grab, communicate what’s happening pretty clearly. The voice lines, scraped from streams with various game effects and background going on, feel pretty clean and give good audio feedback. While the offers from the streamers themselves to record lines must be edifying, they almost aren’t necessary.
The only really noticeable glitches I found were in the move list menu, when the blur frames of a jumping attack begin to stick around at one point, and the animations for the assist character displayed Miko no matter who I had actually selected. But otherwise, the game ran smoothly at 60 fps and I experienced no crashes. The largest problem I had overall was not being able to set controls to display my preferred controller buttons, which made learning the inputs slightly more challenging. In the long run, learning the more universal symbols can only be useful but in the moment it was an slight barrier to getting used to the controls.
Being a free game with a small roster and beginner-friendly slant, I can see Idol Showdown being a great entry point into fighting games for Hololive VTuber fans. If fighting game veterans, attracted by the allure of rollback netcode, end up endeared to the characters, then the game could serve as a nice gateway between the two communities. Those outside those camps may find its appeal limited, but such is the nature of games targeted at such a specific crossover of audiences. Despite that, Idol Showdown is a worthy addition to the growing list of Hololive fan-games that stand on their own merits.
Idol Showdown is immediately available for free on PC via Steam.