In 2017, Dan Fornace and his team developed and produced Rivals of Aether for the Xbox One. The retro-style fighting game plays similar to Super Smash Bros. with the damage counter and ability to knock opponents off the stage to win. Would Rivals of Aether be a knockout or would it whiff? Look out for walking whales in this Rivals of Aether review!
Rivals of Aether Plot:
Rivals of Aether’s plot revolves around six different animal civilizations who are at war with each other because of a mysterious purple shadow force that has duped them into believing they are to fault for each other’s problems. After fighting with each other they discover that a mystical force is at fault instead of each other and make their way toward the purple clouds around an island in the center of their lands. They team up and defeat the evil monster and its purple shadow clones.
As I mentioned earlier in this Rivals of Aether review, there are six different animal civilizations and you can play as a warrior from each tribe. Let’s take a look at the roster of fighters you can choose from. This information comes from the official website of Rivals of Aether.
Zetterburn – a son of the ruling family of the Firelands, he is an experienced and hardened warrior. He has fought many wars for the Fire Capital, a bellicose nation that constantly seeks to expand its influence over neighboring lands. His courage in battle has made him a hero among his people.
However, his straightforward character and unquestioning allegiance to the Fire Nation blind him at times. He is a reliable general on the field, but naive to the larger politics of Aether. In battle, Zetterburn is equally forthright; he uses no weapons except for his razor-sharp claws and ability to control the flame.
Orcane – When he first arrived in Water Town, the merchant capital of Aether, Orcane was considered a dangerous nuisance and a criminal. Orcane is a playful trickster, notorious for escaping even the most precarious of situations.
However, while the Water Merchants denounce Orcane in public, they do not hesitate to call upon him when they need a situation dealt with quietly. Orcane is sly and can infiltrate even the most secure strongholds. He can transform into water and confuse enemies with a spray of bubbles, making him the perfect candidate for stealth assignments.
Wrastor – The youngest trainee in the history of the Air Academy, Wrastor has never lived by anyone’s rules but his own. After graduating at the top of his class, he joined the Air Armada, the military force of Air Nation.
Within a year, Wrastor became renowned not just in Air Nation but across Aether as a fierce and unpredictable fighter. However, among his superiors, he is more infamous for his brashness and arrogance than for his daring deeds. Currently an Aerial Ace for the Air Armada, Wrastor is wreaking havoc among the Armada’s enemies and generals alike.
Kragg – Kragg is a defender of the colossal Aetherian Forest. Deliberate and loyal, he is one of the infamous Wall Runners who patrol the Rock Wall. From their position atop the Wall, Kragg and his fellow Runners defend both sides of the rock face and the forest below.
While normally slow because of their massive bodies, Wall Runners can curl up into balls and traverse the Wall at high speeds. Unlike other Wall Runners, Kragg has the legendary ability to control the earth with his will. When in peril, Kragg can summon the earth to aid him, and he repairs the Wall when it is under siege.
Forsburn – He is the disgraced, eldest son of the Firelands’ ruling family. While his brother Zetterburn served the kingdom through leadership on the battlefield, Forsburn was the Firelands’ chief diplomat. Forsburn was the right hand of the Fire King, and he could be relied upon both to broker treaties and to quietly take care of threats to the kingdom.
However, after years of unquestioning service, Forsburn began to smell corruption simmering beneath the surface of the Fire Council. Before Forsburn could expose the conspiracy, his father was discovered slain with Forsburn’s own dagger protruding from his heart. Assumed to be the assassin, Forsburn was condemned by his brother and barely escaped the Capital with his life. Left wounded and nationless, he wandered for months before meeting a group of rebels on the outskirts of the Firelands. These outsiders of the kingdom had rejected flame and mastered the way of smoke, a philosophy of truthful deception. Forsburn joined the smoke tribe, soon becoming their leader. He plots to reclaim the Fire Capital from the Fire Council and their unsuspecting pawn, Zetterburn.
Maypul – She is the self-appointed Guardian of the Aetherian Forest. Her fellow tree-dwellers live in insular strongholds in the forest canopy – the quarrels of Aether quite literally beneath them.
Yet Maypul senses something rotten in the world of Aether. Only she listens to the whispers of distress amongst the trees. And so, Maypul patrols the forest seeking out threats to her home. She parlays with the surface dwellers, much to the dismay of her treetop clan. However, she commands fearful respect throughout the forest for her unhesitating vigilantism. She uses her agility to trap any unknown intruders before they even realize she is there.
Rivals of Aether Gameplay:
Once you select who you want to play the story with you’ll be introduced to their strain in the story as all of their plots intertwine in the end. The cut scenes are nothing but still images that look like they’ve been drawn in MS-Paint. You’ll read some brief text on the role of the character in their land and why they begin to fight. Each character during my Rivals of Aether review had a rival and at the end of their story, they battled.
Rivals of Aether plays very similar to Super Smash Bros with the damage counter and the goal of knocking your opponent off the stage. Most times during my Rivals of Aether review I was able to knock my opponent off the stage when they reached the 100 percent mark of damage but some fights it took until they reached up to 190 percent when I was using weaker fighters. My favorite fighter to use was Forsburn as I found his dagger the most effective in fights. I did not enjoy playing as Orcane or Wrastor as they focused more on speed than power and were difficult to master.
Each fighter has basic attacks as well as a special power that can be used pretty much anytime during the fight with infinite uses. Some I found to be very useful during my Rivals of Aether review like Zetterburn’s fire blast but others like Wrastor’s air zoom felt useless. There are a few combos to learn but each fighter isn’t built with in-depth levels of complex buttons.
The backgrounds look great and give a retro feel of early 90s games. Visually, Rivals of Aether stands out as you rarely see fighting games that look like it. The character animations are done well, and while I hated playing as Orcane and Wrastor during my Rivals of Aether review, they looked the best in my opinion. The sound fits perfectly into the game and I enjoyed listening to short tunes as the fights began.
You’ll fight five opponents to beat the game in story mode. I didn’t have too much trouble fighting any of them during my Rivals of Aether review but your damage counter doesn’t reset when you move onto the next round. You’re given three lives to complete the story mode but if you fail you can come back with another three lives for a penalty of an extra minute added to your total time. I didn’t care at all about the time I completed it in, I just wanted to beat the game. You earn more points the fastest you beat the game and you’ll earn coins but I didn’t bother using them which I assume you can buy unlockables. The final fight is against your rival and they will have two lives instead of one.
Once you unlock the final boss you’ll fight him with all six characters one at a time until his health is gone. During my Rivals of Aether review I thought the final boss was a clever fight even though I didn’t understand what I was fighting. There’s two tentacles with eyes that shoot purple lasers and attack you while shadow clones form and attack. The key is to ignore the clones and focus on the tentacles as they have the health bar. I beat it on my first try but I was down to my final fighter.
I picked this up as a free download for the Xbox Gold Membership.
Rivals of Aether Review Score:
Rivals of Aether is a decent retro fighting game that you can play local or online. It’d be nice if there were stage hazards but the fighting mechanics are simple enough for anyone to pick up and play. It looks great and sounds good but I wish there was more substance to the fighting.
Rivals of Aether scores a 7.2 out of 10.
What would you write in your Rivals of Aether review? Do you remember when Rivals of Aether first came out? What was your favorite fighter to use? Have you downloaded any of the bonus characters? What did you think of the graphics? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!