It’s likely that if you’ve decided to read this review with interest in the game then you’re a fan of two things, the first being unusually scrawny Japanese men who are capable of jumping 50 feet into the air whilst carrying a ridiculously oversized sword that even Thor himself couldn’t wield. The second being skimpily clad Japanese school girls with cute voices and more breasts than sense, but they soon make up for it as they have enough weapons to bring down an army of demons and then go running back to school like nothing really happened to go blush at their school crush. I’m a tad bias though as I can just about make it up 3 flights of stairs without passing out, let alone fight demons or jump higher than my knees.
We do expect this from Japanese culture and it’s proved pretty popular to the point where I often find myself engaged in anime trivia with friends. I’m not entirely ashamed to admit that I’ve shouted “Kage Bunshin no Jutsu” on more than one occasion whilst trying to create my own shadow clone, but then again I see it as a testament to how much I truly hate washing dishes.
Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is your typical 2D side scrolling button masher fighting game with some lovely twists in it which was released to celebrate the 20th year of the imprint. The game was originally released in Japan on March 18th 2014 as an arcade game but soon became a console edition in Japan later that year. Like most Japanese games a Western edition became available much later and was released on October 6th 2015. The game was developed by Ecole Software and French Bread (yeah, I love that name too!) and published by Sega.
The game revolves around 12 characters from the anime based Dengeki Bunko publishers such as Sword Art Online, Black Bullet and Strike the Blood (to name a few). These warriors have some truly beautiful animations and their skills and fighting style match that of the anime from which they came. They also share the same personalities as their anime characters which is something that hard-core fans will appreciate, it’s something a game like this can get very wrong but the creators have done well to stick to each characters origin.
The character roster is below with their respective animation in brackets. There are a few more unlocks but I don’t want to spoil the surprise:
- Asuna (Sword Art Online)
- Kirino Kousaka (Oreimo)
- Kirito (Sword Art Online)
- Kuroyukihime (Accel World)
- Mikoto Misaka (A Certain Magical Index)
- Miyuki Shiba (The Irregular at Magic High School)
- Rentaro Satomi (Black Bullet)
- Shana (Shakugan no Shana)
- Shizuo Heiwajima (Durarara!!)
- Taiga Aisaka (Toradora!)
- Tomoka Minato (Ro-Kyu-Bu!)
- Yukina Himeragi (Strike the Blood)
There is also a huge selection of 23 assist characters to choose from, each with their own unique skill set. The use of assists works incredibly well to the point where you can control the tide of battle by using a defensive or an offensive support move. The defensive usually allows you to control your opponent by stopping them for a short time and offensive allows you to do some damage, and if timed right, can flow nicely with your own combo to do even more damage. Obviously this comes at the price of a time limitation, lasting just long enough to not become overpowered.
Naturally, when it comes to fighting games it’s always a bit of a chore when picking your first character. I’m reminded so many times of the painful decision of Tekken where I couldn’t decide between Eddy Gordo and Yoshimitsu, although I knew my choice was justified when I spent most of the round using sweet capoeira skills to dart around the stage and kick peoples shins. This time I opted for the innocent looking schoolgirl with a spear twice the size of her body and a skirt that looks like it was bought for her when she was 5 and somehow still fits 10 years later.
The game really starts to shine when you enter a battle, the two fighting characters have a clever little back and forth which relates to their own personalities and the anime from which they came. I’ve never before felt so embarrassed that a woman with butterfly wings commented on how pathetic I was for fighting in a skirt, but then again I’ve never felt prouder than when Kirito from Sword Art Online commented on how rare my spear was, even though it was seconds away from being plunged into his skull.
The main protagonist of the game is a non-playable character named Denshin which I quickly renamed as “Mrs. Dreamcast” because of the large Dreamcast controller attached to her head. I’m not 100% sure as to why it was there, but it gave me a cheap laugh none the less. The villain of the story is a gadget-ghost type entity from the organization Zetsumu with the ability to possess other characters. I couldn’t really figure him out as he tried to kill me 9 times with other playable characters he had possessed and then released everyone who was trapped by him of his own free will, finally swearing vengeance upon me. So all in all he seems like a jerk but one that you love, like when your friend borrows your game off you and “forgets” to give it back. You’re angry at them but you soon forgive and forget.
The story isn’t particularly great, but this is a fighting game, so you really don’t go into it expecting too much because… Well, it’s a fighting game, and if you want story then go play Final Fantasy. The character’s story is based on dreams and not giving up on them because you have to cling to them, whilst I agree with the principal, my dream of becoming a billionaire businessman who sits at home all day playing video games and watching cartoons didn’t quite come to fruition. Each characters story is similar but it differs based on how the characters react to each other by offering slightly different conversations.
Fighting wise you have your basic 3 attack buttons (weak, medium and strong) as well as a support button which calls your main bro down to come bash some skulls like nobody’s business so that you can slip away for a quick sake. You have a few blast icons allowing you to counter attacks as well as a climax gauge which builds up gradually and can be used to pull off your sexy super attacks which look flash and well, down right awesome. The great thing about it is that the button combinations more or less stay the same throughout so whoever you decide to pick will always be familiar to you.
As far as graphics go, the game stands by itself. I played the PlayStation Vita version of the game, so for a Vita game it’s not half bad at all and the level of design that the creators put into their characters is impressive. The real eye opener though is when it comes to the flashy skills and combos. Pulling off your ultimate attack is extremely gratifying, not just for the huge chunk of damage that you do to your opponent but also because of the sexy graphics that follow. The combo attacks link seamlessly and there is no stopping (provided you use a combo) so the combat flows well.
Speaking about graphics, the stages themselves were pretty well designed, although there was a lack of interactive objects. I’m not entirely sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing. All the stages themselves are taken directly from Sega games such as Sonic the Hedgehog’s loveable Green Hill Zone which is extremely satisfying to throw down at. I would have liked to see a few more stages that are unique to the game.
The sound of the game really caught my attention, all the voiced characters are crystal clear and the theme song to the game itself is annoyingly catchy. I got told a number of times to shut up the next day at work and I’m now worried to hum it again for fear of my job.
Menu wise is fairly typical of a fighting game, but there is not too much that can really be added. You have the following:
Story Mode (Arcade) – You’re standard staged battles with 9 rounds in total each getting increasingly difficult.
Story Mode (Dream Duel) –
Versus – Standard versus mode where you play against the computer.
Network – Connect to the network in order to battle fellow anime warriors from around the globe, to which I very quickly got demolished by two other players, one who very kindly used a car door to carve a new face for my happy-go-lucky schoolgirl.
Ad Hoc – Create your own LAN to battle your friends close by and then brag to them how awesome you are.
Challenge (Score Attack) – Give it your all in 9 battles to get the highest score and post to the rankings to show off your warrior skills.
Challenge (Time Attack) – Kick ass as fast as you possibly can.
Challenge (Survival) – Do the complete opposite of what I did in the game and actually try to survive.
The final bit of the menu I found pretty interesting is customise, where you can purchase some nice new colour outfits. You’re pretty pink schoolgirl can now become a gothic red vampire and you can purchase a sexy new banner to display to your network foes just how amazing you are. The selection of items is pretty broad and allows you to have a bit of fun with your character to make them more unique to you.
The game as a whole is good, but the fact is that this type of game will only really appeal to a select audience, those who will be familiar with all, if not most, of the characters. It’s a challenging game to make but the creators have done a good job to reflect all the characters. Still, I would have liked to see some more content, and given the level of design on the assists it would have been nice to actually play with them. This is a great game if you have a spare 30 minutes every now and again and want to vent some anger but it could have broken the mould with some more content and development.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.