Cross over fighting games are a plentiful commodity these days. Capcom started the ball rolling with titles that pitted their Street Fighter brawlers against Marvel superheroes and in more recent times Nintendo mascots have pummelled each other in Smash Bros. Not to be outdone, the Vita has recently jumped onto the bandwagon with Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax – a one on one beat-em-up developed by Ecole Software and French Bread (I had no idea that baguettes were proficient at coding games.) Fighting Climax’s roster of warriors feature characters that appear in ASCII Media Works’ library of light novels. From my grammatically challenged reviews you may have ascertained that I am an illiterate dolt, who doesn’t read, but I was still looking forward to this title as I recognise many of the characters from the books’ anime adaptations.
Fighting games aren’t known for their stellar storylines and Dengeki Bunko is no exception to that rule. The solo arcade mode has players squaring off against a sinister entity named Zetsumu at the behest of Denshin, a pink haired girl who has a Dreamcast controller plastered to her forehead. To save the day players will need to vanquish a total of nine fighters, plucked from the Dengeki Bunko universe, who have been brainwashed into doing Zetsumu’s nefarious bidding. Much more interesting was the Dream Duel mode, which pits you against a series of six challengers. Prior to each bout the competitors partake in humorous banter, which is sure to amuse fans of the novels in question. If you have ever longed to see Taiga (Toradora) bicker with Shana (Shakugan no Shana) or Kirito (SAO) wax lyrical with Mikoto (Scientific Railgun) this is the game for you.
Combat is the usual fare you would find in something like Street Fighter, only that instead of featuring muscly men the battles are fought between effeminate chaps wielding swords and underage schoolgirls. Victory is achieved by smacking your opponent, with an array of standard attacks and special moves, until their life bar is depleted. Square, triangle and circle perform weak, medium and fierce strikes respectively whilst x allows you to momentarily summon a support character into the fray. The selection of non-playable allies you can call upon is impressive, but I was a little disappointed to discover that only a dozen fighters are controllable. Titles like Mortal Kombat have spoiled me into expecting a bigger roster (even if they cheat a bit by recoloring the same ninja and calling him a new character.)
My rating for Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is three stars. The combat system may not be robust enough to satisfy the hardcore Evo crowd, but casual players who like anime should have fun with it. Whacking the A.I controlled characters never gets old, which is a good thing given that there are plenty of unlockables and trophies to earn. For the purposes of this review I briefly dabbled with the multiplayer mode and am happy to report that I have no complaints. My online experience was a smooth lag free affair. Despite connecting at an unsociable hour (curse you insomnia) the match making servers did a good job of quickly hooking me up with an opponent of similar skill (i.e like myself he/she sucked.) The titanic duel that followed was all button bashing and no blocking – fighting game champion Yusuke Momochi would shake his head in disgust.
Graphically, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is a fine looking game. The animations are fluid, the colour palette is vibrant and I dug the backgrounds that feature some Sega locales (such as Sonic’s Green Hill Zone and a Valkyria Chronicles battlefield.) If you squint enough however you will spot that the sprites are suffering from jagged edges – perhaps the result of shrinking a PS3 title down to a handheld. That blip in visual fidelity is a black mark on an otherwise enjoyable game. Is it worth buying at full price? That depends on your fondness for the Dengeki Bunko brand of characters. An enhanced version, boasting more content and additional playable waifus, is due out in Japan soon. My suggestion would be to wait and see if that edition gets localized.
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