Fighting EX Layer is a 2.5D fighting game developed and digitally published by Arika for the PlayStation 4 on June 28, 2018. It also received a Japanese-exclusive retail release (also by Arika) on December 6, 2018.
Despite sharing the name with the studio's 1998 arcade fighting game Fighting Layer, Fighting EX Layer is instead a spiritual sequel to their earlier Street Fighter EX series and features their original characters from that series. It features a customizable system of boosts (known as "Gougi", similar to the Gem System in Street Fighter X Tekken) that allow players to unlock new abilities during the match by fulfilling certain requirements.
The game was later released for both the PC (digitally worldwide) and arcades (exclusively in Japan via the NESiCAxLive 2 platform for the PC-based Taito Type X3 hardware) on November 29, 2018, and was ported to mobile devices (as Fighting EX Layer -α) on April 1, 2019.
A revised port of the game was later released for the Nintendo Switch in Japan on April 1, 2021, with a worldwide release on May 20, 2021. Titled Fighting EX Layer: Another Dash, this version replaces the Gougi system with a new simpler "EX Action" system while making some overall gameplay changes (such as removing basic dashes and adding a Guard Break attack). It also includes a free-to-play version, allowing limited offline access with four of the game's characters.
The game received a public beta in December 2017 (from the 11th to the 25th) to test the online functionality (with six characters: Kairi, Shirase, Garuda, Skullomania, Darun, and Allen). The PS4 version was originally released in two forms: Standard and Light (with the Light version including less Gougi decks). Both PS4 and PC versions of the game include paid costume DLC.
The game is a traditional six-button fighting game reminiscent of the studio's earlier Street Fighter EX series. It includes the following techniques and gameplay mechanics:
- As standard, players have normal and command attacks (Unique Attacks), as well as more-complex Special Attacks and Super Combos (both of which deal chip damage on blocking). Super Combos require one bar of the three-bar Super Combo Gauge and can be cancelled into from certain attacks (including Special Attacks and other Super Combos). Players can opt for an alternate "Progressive" input method, simplifying complex joystick motions of Special Attacks and Super Combos (such as changing "quarter-circle forward" to just "forward").
- Pressing both Light Attack buttons performs a throw attempt. Ground throws can be made in the opposite direction by holding Back on the joystick. While in the process of being thrown, opponents can break out of it ("Throw Break") by pressing both Light Attack buttons at the right time. Throws can be performed mid-air, which cannot be broken.
- Pressing both Medium Attack buttons performs an overhead attack ("Hard Attack") which staggers crouching opponents. In the Switch version, this was replaced with a Guard Break attack that cannot be guarded against and requires one bar of the Super Combo Gauge.
- Players can perform a universal Chain Combo on the ground by progressing from a Light Attack, to Medium Attack, to Heavy Attack, all regardless of whether they are Punch or Kick attacks. Players can also perform a simpler "Easy Combo" by pressing the Light Attack repeatedly. Easy Combos were removed in the Switch version.
- Tapping the joystick twice in either the Forward or Back direction while neutral on the ground to make a quick dash in that direction. This was later removed in the Switch version.
- Pressing an Attack button while on the ground at the correct time allows a quick recovery (or "Teching").
Most versions of the game include a unique "Gougi" system, where each player has five special power-ups (called "Gougi") in their "Deck" (similar to a collectible card deck). By performing certain Gougi-specific actions, players fill up each Gougi's Gauge to automatically activate their special ability (some of which are temporary). Abilities range from basic buffs to new techniques (such as
There are 15 Gougi Decks total, with Decks #006-#015 locked to those who owned the cheaper Light edition of the PS4 version. For owners of that version, the game included a weekly rotation of two unlocked Decks from that set and allowed players to purchase each Deck piecemeal (at $2.49 each) or in a complete pack (at $21.99). As the Light version was discontinued, piecemeal purchases was also discontinued and players can purchase the complete pack at a cheaper price (at $0.99).
- Aggro (001) - Rampage, Illusion, Chip Up, Grab Up, Erase Blow.
- Juggernaut (002) - Hades, Guard Break, Meter Up, Speed Up, Attack Up.
- Shinobi (003) - Ghost, Guard Cancel, Guard Break, Speed Up, Attack Up.
- Infinity (004) - Rage, Guard Cancel, Meter Up x3.
- Miracle (005) - Overload, Hades, Soul Drain, Utsusemi, Mammoth.
- Stealth Raptor (006) - Hunting Dash, Utsusemi, Grab Up, Speed Up x2.
- Berserker (007) - 6 Chain, Pierce, Grab Up, Meter Up, Erase Blow.
- Double Face (008) - Heads or Tails, Guard Cancel, Illusion, Grab Up, Speed Up.
- Sky Dancer (009) - EX Arrow, Guard Break, Illusion, Chip Up, Frenzy.
- Nightmare (010) - Energy Drain, Soul Drain, Ghost, Speed Up x2.
- Babel (011) - Desperation, Guard Cancel, Meter Power, Meter Up x2.
- Thunderbolt (012) - Teleport, Critical, Attack Up, Meter Up, Frenzy.
- Fantasista (013) - Meter Gross, Power Reversal, Disrupt, Attack Up, Meter Up.
- Supernova (014) - Overload, Rage, Guard Break, Disrupt, Meter Power.
- Grab Master (015) - Kraken Power, Kraken Grab, Grab Up, Speed Up, Erase Blow.
The Switch version of the game replaces the Gougi system with a new "EX Action" system, with three universal techniques:
- EX Arrow - Costs 1/2 bar of the Super Combo Gauge. Quickly tapping down and up on the joystick performs a unique homing jump that can be used to connect into a mid-air chain combo.
- EX Dash - Costs one bar of the Super Combo Gauge. Pressing both Heavy Attack buttons on the ground performs a forward dash that can be used to connect into a chain combo.
- EX Illusion - Costs one bar of the Super Combo Gauge. Holding back on the joystick and pressing both Heavy Attack buttons while guarding performs a guard cancel forward-jumping evasion that can be cancelled into a normal attack.
The base game includes 13 playable characters, 11 of which are Arika's characters from the Street Fighter EX series. Five additional characters were added post-release, one of which is a guest character. The Switch version allows free offline play with four characters: Kairi, Shirase, Garuda, and Doctrine Dark.
- Rampage - After dealing over 40 damage in a single combo, gain increased damage the more you attack.
- Illusion - After receiving 300 points of damage, gain the ability to escape a single combo per round.
- Hades - After getting knocked down 12 times, gain Super Armor.
- Guard Break - After connecting 4 Hard Attacks, gain the ability to guard break on Hard Attacks.
- Ghost - After avoiding contact with the opponent for 6 seconds, gain invisibility on forward dashes.
- Guard Cancel - After guarding 30 attacks, gain the ability to guard cancel into Special and Super attacks.
- Rage - After spending 10 blocks of the Super Meter, gain the ability to automatically recover the Super Meter.
- Overload - After connecting 25 Special attacks while having maximum Super Meter, activate all other Gougi in the Deck.
- Mammoth - After spending 20 blocks of the Super Meter, increase damage dealt by 35%.
- Hunting Dash - After dashing for a total of 3 seconds, change forward dashes into quicker short hops.
- Utsusemi - After performing a Recovery 5 times, gain invisibility during Recoveries.
- 6 Chain - After performing 15 chain combos, gain an additional attack for chain combos.
- Pierce - After connecting 30 attacks, gain chip damage on normal attacks.
- Heads or Tails - After completing 1 round, gain either 6 Chain on the next round (when winning) or Hades on the next round (when losing).
- EX Arrow - After connecting with 4 jumping attacks, gain the ability to jump directly to the opponent (by inputting Down -> Up).
- Energy Drain - After knocking down the opponent 4 times, drain Super Meter from a downed opponent.
- Soul Drain - After draining 99 Super Meter from the opponent, gain the ability to drain both Super Meter and Health from the opponent by being near them.
- Desperation - After performing Special or Super attacks 8 times, gain a damage increase the more Special or Super attacks are connected.
- Meter Power - After building 5 bars of Super Meter, gain a damage boost based on how much Super Meter you have.
- Teleport - After attacking out of 5 dashes, gain the ability to teleport directly in front of the opponent when dashing.
- Critical - After avoiding contact with the opponent for 12 seconds, gain a large damage boost for a limited time.
- Meter Gross - After performing 2 Reversals, gain the ability to gain Super Meter when performing Reversals.
- Power Reversal - After attacking 5 Reversals, gain the ability for Reversals to gain a damage boost.
- Disrupt - After performing a Super Cancel from a Super attack twice, gain the ability to spend all Super Meter to perform a powerful Super attack.
- Kraken Power - After performing 5 Special/Super throws, gain a 20% damage increase on Special/Super throws.
- Kraken Grab - After spending a total of 10 seconds close to the opponent, gain a 30% range increase on most Special/Super throws.
- Chip Up - After dealing 40 points of chip damage, gain a 1 point damage increase on chip damage.
- Grab Up - After performing 2 normal throws, gain a 20% range increase on normal throws.
- Erase Blow - After connecting with 3 Heavy attacks, gain the ability to negate projectiles with Heavy attacks.
- Meter Up - After connecting with 10 attacks, gain a 10% increase on the Super Meter recharge rate.
- Speed Up - After 10 seconds have passed in-game, gain a 10% increase in movement speed.
- Attack Up - After building one bar of Super Meter, gain a 5% damage increase.
- Frenzy - After having below 50 health for six seconds, gain a damage increase that corresponds to health lost.