Fighting EX Layer

Fighting EX Layer is a 2.5D fighting game by Arika, the developers of the Street Fighter EX series and Fighting Layer. The project is lead by the original Street Fighter 2 creator and co-founder of Arika, Akira Nishitani. The project was originally teased as an April Fools joke in 2017, with the company showing actual in-game footage. (I didn't get the joke, because the game engine was clearly real. Arika wouldn't purposely play with our emotions for no reason, because many fans have been asking for an Arika fighting game successor for a long time.)

To catch you up on some of this history... around 2014 or 2015, Arika released some developmental footage of a fighting game project for the Nintendo 3DS, featuring none other than Kairi and Hokuto. Sadly, the 3DS fighting game project never finalized, but Arika kept developing their 2.5D engine and clearly never forgot about the SFEX / Fighting Layer characters that many of us old school fans know and love. Interestingly, the cancelled 3DS project features some of the same updated mechanics found in Fighting EX Layer.


Fighting EX Layer character selection screen.


Fighting EX Layer
borrows some familiar gameplay mechanics from the Street Fighter EX series. The game features two settings: "Classic" which features familiar Street Fighter-style special move inputs, and "Progressive" allowing for simpler commands. Players who used Arika's characters in the Street Fighter EX series will feel right at home, as many moves (and even animations) are practically the same.

The "Gougi" system offers players a unique way to play their character, offering a wide variety of options to "power-up" your character during gameplay. By completing certain tasks while fighting, players can unlock special abilities and buffs during the fight. For example, the Juggernaut Gougi can activate "super armor", the Sky Dancer Gougi can enable a homing jump ability + increased chip damage, and the Infini Gougi can activate bonus meter gain + infinite super moves. It sounds like a lot, but once you experiment with a few... you're bound to find a Gougi or two that suit your style. The Gougi system's design changes the flow and pace of battles, enabling players to utilize different strategies mid-match (at their own leisure).


FEXL in 4K resolution is pretty crisp!


The PlayStation 4 Pro version runs at 1080p with "shader level 3" while the standard PS4 version runs at 720p with "shader level 1". Unfortunately, FEXL currently has no legacy controller support. Arika said if the game sells well enough on PS4 in the first month, DLC characters (Vulcano Rosso, Pullum Purna, Area & Sharon) will be added to the game. Arika also said if the game sells well on PS4 it's that "possible" they will consider bringing the game to Steam (however, there are no official plans for a PC version). SNK icon, Terry Bogard, was announced for Fighting EX Layer at EVO '18 in August 2018.


Shiny Skullomania skins. . . 

Nintendo Switch port of the game titled Fighting EX Layer: Another Dash released in March / April 2021. This version entirely removes Gougi decks from the game and adds the new EX-Dash and EX-Arrow systems. The core game is available to download for free, which includes Kairi, Shirase, D. Dark, and Darun. An add-on package priced at $25 adds the full roster to the game (14 additional characters including Terry Bogard), along with Training Mode and Online.

Kairi versus Garuda.

  FUN FACT:  The first beta test for Fighting EX Layer took place on December 11th, 2017 exclusively on PlayStation 4 and ran for 2 weeks. The PS4 online beta featured 6 playable characters: Kairi, Garuda, Skullomania, Darun Mister, Allen Snider, and Shirase.



Page Updated: April 30th, 2024
Developer(s): Arika
Publisher(s): Arika
Designer(s): Akira Nishitani, Naoki Imai
Artwork By: Naoki Imai
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PC, Arcade, Switch
Release Date(s): June 28th, 2018           PlayStation 4
Nov. 29th, 2018             Arcade
Nov. 30th, 2018           Steam
Dec. 6th, 2018                PS4 - Physical Disc Version
Mar. 31st, 2021              Switch - as FEXL: Another Dash
Apr. 15th, 2021             /   Switch - as FEXL: Another Dash
Characters Hayate, Sanane, Shirase, Hokuto, Kairi, Allen Snider, Skullomania, Darun Mister, Doctrine Dark, Garuda, Blair Dame, Jack, Shadowgeist, Vulcano Rosso, Pullum Purna, Sharon, Area, Terry Bogard

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Featured Video:

Related Games: Fighting Layer, Street Fighter EX, Street Fighter EX2, Street Fighter EX3, Killer Instinct (Season 3), Injustice 2, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Blade Strangers, BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, TEKKEN 7

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First Impression:

Fighting EX Layer is fun... but definitely "incomplete". This is an arcade fighting game, folks. I can enjoy one. I don't need story, or gimmicky advertising featuring over-hyped superheros, to get me to play a fighting game. I released a combo video or two for FEXL... and it was fun to make. To fully explore the combo system is like a story in and of itself.

However, even an old-school arcade kid like myself has elevated standards thanks to the most recent console fighting games. What makes a "complete" fighting game nowadays? More than what Fighting EX Layer offers. However, it's still an interesting title for a variety of reasons.

The original Fighting Layer (1998) was an obscure arcade-only 3D fighter that didn't get much mainstream attention. I never thought in a million years they'd make a sequel to Fighting Layer (but starring SFEX characters instead). On that note, the title of this game is a bit... strange. I was thinking something like "Arika EX" or "Arika Fighter" would've been a more appropriate name. Sounds catchier, right? As a matter of fact, the title I'd choose for the game is, specifically: Arika Fighter EX Plus Alpha. Maybe in a future update, they can switch it to that.  

As one the first prominent 2.5D fighting games, Street Fighter EX had an undeniable influence in fighting game history. Say what you will about Street Fighter's humble beginnings in 3D, but those games were memorable on many levels. Something about the SFEX series is pleasingly nostalgic... it even aged well, somehow. Fighting EX Layer bases itself on that nostalgia, banking on the fact that us old school fighting game players will buy and appreciate the game.

One of the driving forces behind this nostalgia is, of course, the memorable character designs of SFEX. Needless to say, it's awesome (and almost unbelievable) to see the likes of Allen Snider, Hokuto, Darun, Kairi, Garuda, and the fan-favorite Skullomania returning to center stage once again.

Much like SFV in 2016, Fighting EX Layer launched in a very raw, bare bones state. However, even though a small company, Arika managed to add Arcade Mode, 2 free DLC characters, and other updates in just a few months since launch. With future DLC characters like Terry Bogard, Sharon & Area, FEXL's future is looking pretty good.

Say what you will about FEXL in its early stages... but this is clearly a fighting game made for old school fighting game fans, first and foremost. That's a nice thing to see in an age when "certain" fighting game companies are heavily pushing DLC, Ultimate Editions, and dumbed down gameplay made to appeal to casuals (and players too lazy to learn how to play fighting games in general). Even if you're not an old school player, I'd recommend FEXL to you because the traditional format and emphasis on strong fundamentals can teach you many lessons about fighting games.

Fighting EX Layer
not only packs fan service and nostalgic nods to classic gameplay and visuals, but offers a "fun" fighting game experience with roots from a past era - while innovating with exciting new mechanics. FEXL definitely offers something unique and different to the current climate of the fighting genre.

~TFG Webmaster | @FIGHTERS_GEN

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