Saturday, October 10, 2015

Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax (PS3) Review

Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax, a fighting game starring characters from various light novels mashed together.  Honestly, that's pretty cool.  I'm all for taking characters from something else and shoving them into a game together, since some properties might not ever get a game, even if one would be awesome.  I only recognized about five people and am not very good at fighting games, but I figured why not review it?

Movement is fairly standard for fighting games.  The stick or d-pad can move you forward, back, crouch, jump, dash and block.  There are three attack buttons with increasing attack power and decreasing speed, as is standard in fighting games, and also an assist button.  This will call out your chosen assist character to perform one of two moves, depending on if the button was pushed by itself or with the stick tilted forward.  Not all assists are attacks, as some are shields/counters or even heals.  Assists are powerful, but have a cooldown.  Using them often, but wisely, really helps out.

Each character also has a few special moves, EX versions of those moves (which cost a meter) and super moves (which cost 2 meters).  The moves are very different from character to character, but the motions are not.  I actually really like this design decision, since it makes it easier to choose any character and know how to do their moves.  The super moves are really flashy and fun to watch, provided it's not someone doing it to you.

In addition to that, there's a burst attack that can knock the opponent away, plus gives you a big chunk of meter.  The cooldown for these is pretty long, but it's really cool that you can use them defensively, offensively, or, if you are lucky/unlucky enough, both.  There's also a Trump Card special ability each character has, which you can only use a limited number of times per fight (represented by the lightning bolts above the meter).  If it is red, it is a powerful attack, and blue tends to be a buff (like Kirito pulling out his second sword).  Plus, you can sack these during the opening frame of a super for extra damage.  Overall, the combat has a good amount of variety, depth and strategy to it, which is surprising given the simpler focus of the special moves.

The Story Mode allows you to pick a character and then do 9 fights with some dialogue in-between most of them.  The story itself is pretty thin, but gives enough of an excuse for all the characters to fight each other.  It wasn't too hard... granted, I had it set to the lowest difficutly... but I did mention I'm not very good at fighting games.  There are also two different ending bosses, both of which are unlockable.  The number of super KOs you get on the way to the final fight dictates which of the two you will get.

Also in the Story menu is the Dream Mode.  These are exclusive to the home versions of the game, and feature more personal interactions between the fighters than the more generic Story Mode.  There are only six battles per character, and they are all shown from the get-go.  They can also be chosen in any order, as they are all self-contained.  Not too hard to complete, but pretty fun to see the different characters react to each other coming from much different backstories.  Both Story and Dream Mode are worth doing in my opinion, especially if you are like me and do a lot of the single player stuff in fighting games.  Yes, I know that's weird, just accept it.

Besides the main story-related stuff, there are three challenge modes to do.  The first is Score Attack.  This is a series of up to 9 fights, where, obviously, you try to get a high score.  The second is Time Attack were you fight several opponents and try to beat them fast.  Survival is the third.  You have to fight an endless stream of opponents until you run out of health.  These three are pretty self-explanatory.  They are also not revolutionary modes, but nice to see them present as something else to do in the game.

All starting characters have each a story mode and a dream story mode to get through, which will probably set you back 10-12 hours, which is pretty good for a fighting game.  Of course most people will perfect their craft and jump online.  Knowing the outcome, I still had to try it out.  It ran well for me, no noticeable lag and I found a match quickly.  And as sure as the sun rises, I got stomped.  At least it was all on me and not the network connection.

As someone who isn't very competitive and plays fighting games more for fun, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is pretty fun.  It has a fair amount of single player content, and on the easiest setting (which I proudly used) it's more fun than difficult.  The move list is a bit sparse, but easy to remember, since all characters intentionally use similar motions.  It's easy to pick up and play.  I didn't know most of the characters, but the game seems tailored toward those that do, even if they aren't hardcore FGC (fight game community) people.  I'd recommend fans of any of the featured franchises give the game a play, but be aware that there is an enhanced version with more characters coming to Japan in the next few months.  No word on a western release of that, so at least give the game a try until then.

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