Battle Fantasia was originally an arcade game, which soon got added to the libraries of many a console gamer, as the game came out on the Xbox 360 in 2008 for Japan, and one year later in Europe, with a PlayStation 3 edition following soon after. Now, the game comes to Steam, claiming to be a ‘revised edition’ to the original. Can the game stand up to the label it has set for itself?
The first thing to note about this game is the characters featured in it, which might just be one of the game’s strongest points. It has a unique, albeit small, cast of characters, all of which are memorable. For instance, there’s Coyori, the half-human/half-cat, who turned into a person to work for the woman who saved her life, and is now a very energetic waitress at a café. This is one of twelve characters in the game, and all have their own distinctive backstories and motives, making for a very interesting experience.
It’s also worth mentioning is the language used. Throughout the story mode, which we’ll discuss in more detail soon, the characters speak to one another in Japanese, with subtitles provided below to keep the players from scratching their heads in confusion. This might be a bit off-putting to some, but you genuinely get used to it after a while. People who watch undubbed anime will be able to take this in their stride and may even get some enjoyment from the game, as the game possesses a very anime feel to it. Some of them take damage when their opponents look up their skirts as some sort of special combo, which is quite creepy, but par for the course for someone who’s watched a lot of it.
The game itself looks quite good. It’s not breaking any boundaries, but the various areas you can fight at are all quite pretty, and are accompanied by their own musical numbers. Unsurprisingly, the fight takes place on a two dimensional plane, but there’s a whole world in the background to look at, if you have the time to take your eyes off the fight. The characters themselves are three dimensional models, and they look quite good (although you can see the age from the original game come through, you’ll barely notice it).
There are also some pretty cool mechanics to discuss. Players earn MP as they deal and take damage, which can be stacked three times. Players can then spend these stacks to ‘heat up’ adding unique effects and abilities to every character. Whilst a player is heated up, they also gain access to a myriad of over-the-top special moves. It should be pointed out that we say ‘over-the-top’ in a good way, because no fighting game would be incomplete without these. Skill is still needed to pull off these moves though, so the game is able to avoid having certain characters be able to win with the press of a button. Speaking of buttons, it should be pointed out that this is, of course, a port; so whilst you can use a keyboard, it’s quite the learning curve, and you’d have a better experience using a controller.
Each character has their own fighting style, so it’ll take a while to find the one for you. If you’re a fan of sluggish characters who hit slow and hard, Donvalve the giant dwarven king who uses the power of steampunk to defeat his enemies is likely the one for you. If you prefer a faster character with quick combos and hits, then we refer you back to Coyori the cat girl. Once you’ve found your character of choice though, the fun doesn’t end, as each and every character has their own story mode.
In this, you follow a certain storyline, unique to each character. Admittedly, the story rarely extends beyond “your character will travel the world for their own reason. Throughout this adventure they will meet the other characters in the game and fight them for another reason.” The dialogue in the cutscenes is very nice and at times quite amusing, and a lot of effort has been put in on that front. However, we found the reason for combat to at times be quite forced. Most of the times you fight a character seem to be due to misunderstandings, which could easily be settled with words and making love, not war. It’s nigh on infuriating when a character tries to explain the situation, but the other completely ignores him or her and initiates the fight anyway.
There are multiplayer modes for the game also, as is to be expected. Playing in the same room is as fun as you’d expect from a fighting game such as this, but we’d advise caution if you fancy a scrap online, because the online features in this game seem to be pretty bad. There’s no lobby system, so if you were planning on playing with a friend, you’ll have little to do but pray to the eight gods of online gaming that by some miracle you’ll wind up on the same battlefield as them. And even if by some miracle you do, the online portion of the game has been plagued by lag issues, so you’ll rarely see the end of a game before being disconnected.
This game has lots of strong points, but you won’t find them online. It has a unique roster, nice graphics and cool music. However, the game suffers from a dodgy online system and keyboard controls, and whilst you’ll get a lot of fun from the story mode, it often feels quite forced. For £10.99 on steam, it’s quite cheap, and definitely has a few hours of fun if you enjoy the game, but one should be aware of the problems it has before opening their wallet.
BATTLE FANTASIA – REVISED EDITON / DEVELOPER: ARC SYSTEM WORKS, DOTEMU / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW