Over the past few weeks, we've taken a detailed look at specific aspects of Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax, a fighting game where characters are pulled from across some of the most popular anime of the past few years to battle it out. And if nothing else, Fighting Climax certainly delivers on that premise.
Good -- Awesome Cast
The titular Degeki Bunko isn't a game series name nor is it a game company. Rather, Dengeki Bunko is a publishing company -- not of anime or manga, mind you, but of light novels. And as these days, many of the most popular anime are adaptations of light novels, Fighting Climax contains characters featured in some of the most prominent anime in the past few tears -- as well as a few classic characters.
So, when it comes down to it, the cast is the main selling point of Fighting Climax. As we've looked at in detail before, there are characters from series ranging from Sword Art Online and Accel World to Oreimo and The Irregular and Magical High School. And while only 14 are playable, an additional 23 characters appear as assists. Sega, the publisher of the game, has even added in four characters of its own from Virtua Fighter and Valkyria Chronicles. So if you are looking to fight it out with some of the most popular characters in anime today, this game lets you do that in spades.
Good -- Looks Great
Out of battle, the game is simply a series of conversations between the characters from the various series. Much like the Neptunia series, the characters are portrayed by a largely static image that is stretched to simulate breathing and other minor movement. (Though, unlike Neptunia, it lacks the constantly heaving bosoms.)
What's cool about the character art in conversations, however, is not the movement, but rather the art design. Instead of being based on the character designs of the various anime adaptations, these images are based on the art found in the original light novels. (Most usually have a few pages spread throughout the novel that show off the characters and/or climatic moments.) So for fans of the various anime, the art style serves as a cool throwback to the origins of their favourite characters.
In battle, the characters are animated as classic 2D fighting game sprites -- and they look fantastic. More than that, though, all the cast has a move set full of attacks that are either directly taken from the source material or at least represent the spirit of the character they are associated with. All around, it's a pretty good looking game.
Mixed -- A Simple Fighter
As a fighter, it is somewhat simple. Each character basically has the same move inputs -- though what those inputs do changes dramatically based on the character. Moreover, there is nothing more complicated control-wise than a back-to-forward roll of the thumbstick. Beyond those moves, there is a pretty standard super-move system -- i.e., doing damage or taking damage fills up your special bar.
The other parts of the fighting system are the "trump card" system and the burst system. In the trump card system, each character has two trump cards they can use at any time over the entire match (it does not reset between rounds). What these cards do depends on the character: Sometimes, they power up a character for a limited time -- e.g., letting SAO's Kirito dual wield; other times, they are a single, super-powerful attack. The burst system is a multiple use attack that recharges as the fight goes on. It can be used as a counter, interrupting your opponent mid-combo, or as a power-up -- giving you several super-move bars to utilise. But while fun additions, neither are game changers.
So really, it is a game where the general fighting systems and move sets are relatively easy to master. The skill comes more from gaining an intimate knowledge of what each character can do and figuring out combos rather than from performing complex button presses.
Mixed -- Light on Story, Heavy on Fanservice
The story of Fighting Climax is basic to say the least. All the characters are pulled into battles across various Sega and light novel-related worlds by a goddess (who is clearly an anthropomorphic personification of the Sega Dreamcast) and her opponent of pure evil. And as the dialogue scenes between each of the nine total battles take only a minute or two a piece, the story really is as simple as that.
However, what the game lacks for in story, it makes up in fanservice -- but not the sexual kind. The dialogue is this game's love letter to fans. The conversations between each battle are often unrelated to the plot and instead focus on banter between the two characters from different series. These conversations are pure fanservice and are often hilarious -- be that one between Miyuki and Kirino about their respective brothers or Kirito lusting after the "rare loot" that is Shana's fiery katana. In fact, the game includes a mode called "dream duel" mode to provide extra (and more lengthy) conversations between the characters than what you'll find in the arcade mode.
But of course, the high point of these conversations is the fact that the vast majority of the voice actors from the various anime return to their roles for this game. And while that's already cool to begin with, there are additional moments of fun fanservice when two characters voiced by the same voice actor encounter each other and toss about tongue-in-cheek jokes.
Honestly, I quite enjoyed my time with Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax. As someone who has never been more than mediocre at fighting games, it was nice to find one I could pick up and master the move sets quite quickly. However, I suspect the more hardcore fighting game players would find this one a bit simplistic.
But even then, the fighting is not really the point of Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax. Rather, the point is to have your favourite anime characters beat the ever-loving crap out of each other -- and the game definitely delivers on that. Everything else from the art style to the voice actors is just the icing on the cake.
Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax was released in Japan for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita on November 13, 2014. There is currently no word on an international release.