Game: Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax
Developer: Ecolle Soft | Frenchbread
Console: PS3, Vita
Reviewed on: PS3
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review.
When people think anime fighting game, they typically imagine the likes of Blazblue and Guilty Gear, Arc System Works’ duo of flashy and over the top fighters. But outside the realm of Arcsys’ genre wide stranglehold, every once in a awhile another anime fighter pops up to fill the void left between such big name releases, and Dengeki Bunko is just such a game.
Bringing together characters from a variety of light novels published by the Japanese publishing company Dengeki Bunko, Fighting Climax is filled with faces both familiar and obscure. The mixture of characters here skews both popular, with characters such as Kirito and Asuna from Sword Art Online being among the most recognizable, and obscure, with even such early to mid-2000s era anime heroines as Boogie Pop and Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan making appearances as support characters. This mixture may befuddle some casual viewers of anime, who likely have no idea what series such as Black Bullet or Tora Dora are even about, but honestly offers just enough mainstream fare to keep things interesting.
Every character here represents a bounty of fanservice, as their attacks, voice-overs, and mannerisms are drawn directly from their respective series. It really is a treat to see a character such as Kirino Kosaka, of Oreimo fame, breaking out different cosplay outfits for each of her attacks, or Mikoto Misaka from A Certain Scientific Railgun kick a vending machine at her opponent, all the while being voiced by the same actresses used in their respective anime series. An example such as these make Dengeki Bunko a treat for fans of these series but might render it more than a bit confusing for outsiders as well. This is particularly evident in the case of characters from Ro-Kyu-Bu!, an anime and novel series about elementary school girls playing basketball, which seems entirely out-of-place even in a game featuring characters from no less than six different romantic comedy series.
Stranger still is the choice of publisher Sega to include stages and characters based on their own properties. While each character here, excluding two I will get to in a moment, is drawn from a novel or anime series, the fighting stages are instead based on both recent and classic Sega games, among them Sonic the Hedgehog and Virtual-On. This leads to a disconnect in setting, as one would think that having stages to match the game’s character would make sense, but no, Sega instead wasted such on opportunity on whoring out their own properties for no real reason. This odd trends even extends to the game’s final bosses, which consist of Akira from the Virtua Fight franchise, and Selveria Bles from Valkyria Chronicles and story mode, which is hosted by the character Dreamcast from the anime Sega Hardgirls. Neither of the prior mentioned characters has any real reason to be in Fight Climax, but are here nevertheless in what seems like a lost opportunity to place a recognizable anime bad guy as a boss instead. A waste, but fans of either series of games will likely be happy to see their heroes in action one more time.
Though developed by Ecolle Soft/French Bread, developers of the Melty Blood series, Fighting Climax is a relatively orthodox fighting games shares many traits with other anime fighters, including a three button control scheme, super meters, and counter breaks to escape from sticky situations. While there are a few new elements, such as support characters and EX attacks, thrown into the mix to spice things up, Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax just isn’t a very complicated game. Each character boasts only a handful attacks, with some featuring five or less special move each, but this does little to detract from the overall experience, as you will find here a game just as in-depth and challenging as any other title on the market today… Or at least you will if you have human players to play against, as the CPU opponent are quite dumb, even on the highest possible difficulty setting.
Single player modes here are sparse and consist of fighting game staples including a training mode, versus mode, survival, time attack, and score attack. Beyond these, you will also have accesses to a story mode, which spins a completely forgettable tale about dreams or some other nonsense in an attempt to fit all of these completely unrelated character together in one setting, and the Dream Duel, which simply pits characters from different series against one another accompanied by amusing dialogue. Each of these modes can be cleared in under a few days, and everything unlocked in a few hours, so if you’re interested at all in Fight Climax, it is best to invest your time in the game’s online play, which works perfectly well and never crashed or disconnected me in the brief time I was able to toy with it.
In all, while the single player experience here is shallow, online and versus play supported by a robust fighting engine is more than enough to save Dengeki Bunko from the trash bin of history. Here we have perhaps the most solid non-Arc System Works fighting game this year, and a satisfying and challenging title in its own right.
In all I give Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax a 8.5/10, plus another half a point or so if you’re a fan of the game’s characters beforehand.
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