After waiting for what seems an eternity, the popular Japanese arcade fighting game, Degenki Bunko: Fighting Climax is out in the West. Was it worth the wait? Keep on reading to find out!
For those of you who do not know what Dengeki Bunko is, it is a series of Japanese light novels that features several stories and characters that are published under the Degenki Bunko umbrella. What makes this so special is that it’s somewhat of a Super Smash Bros-type of 2D fighter that takes the most popular characters of the publication and pits them against each other.
For die hard anime fans, there are lots of familiar faces that you will recognize from popular series such as Sword Art Online to Duradura!! But, as with all crossover type of games, there are fans that will be disappointed. A great feature in this game is the interaction that you really don’t expect from characters that come from different series. The mishmash of different characters from different worlds interacting with each other prior to fights is a fun experience for those hardcore fans. For someone that’s not an anime fan, I did grow to appreciate the effort that the developer put into the interaction and dialog. After Googling a few of these characters, the lightbulb went off and gave me my a-ha moment. For example, when pitting Kirino vs Asuna, they have a short conversation about each others costumes and their affiliation in the Degenki Bunko world – as part of the trash talk includes joining their group if the opponent would lose. In addition, there’s cheeky comments about skimpy outfits and the wild weapons that the fighters are equipped with. It’s both clever and fun.
The game features a star studded cast that includes 14 playable characters that range from the extremely popular Asuna and Kirito from Sword Art Online fame, to the legendary Akira from the Virtua Fighter series. In addition to the playable characters, Dengeki Bunko features 24 non playable support characters such as Alicia from Valkryia Chronicles (!!) and the lovely Leafa from Sword Art Online. All of these characters come from 11 different novels and two Sega franchises. When you choose a character in either Arcade or Dream Mode, you are tasked to choose a support character that’s available during combat with special button combo presses. Although the characters aren’t playable, they are essential to being successful during your battles. While you can choose anyone to assist you during fights, it helps to choose people from the same series as the combos seem to be in sync and basically looks pretty damn awesome to see it happen.
Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax features three playable modes off the bat: Arcade, Dream Mode and Online. Arcade mode consists of choosing your characters and go through a very weak story for each character for 9 fights. The dialogue is well done but does get repetitive – as you’ll be hearing the same lines both pre and post battle. In Dream Mode you pick a character that will go through a 5 fight gauntlet against pre-determined opponents that will pander to only the most hardcore fans. While Arcade is where the fighting fans will take their single player duties to, Dream Mode was made for the most die hard fans. As with all online modes with review copies, I regret to say that I was only able to find one match in a room with 4 people and that one match wasn’t any fun. I was at least 4 feet away from my router and I was getting awful lag for that one match to the point where I couldn’t finish and it disconnected me after the first round. Maybe the net code will be a bit better when it releases, but if it stays the way it is, it’s going to be awful.
Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax was designed for the casual fan of fighting games. If you’re expecting a deep fighting experience that’s found in Blazblue or Guilty Gear, you will be in for a disappointment. Moves are done with half and quarter circles with pressing a pair of face buttons that are labeled A-D. You are given the option of using the d-pad or analog sticks but I found the experience more enjoyable with the d-pad. Moves are easy to pull off and to me, it was enjoyable to execute some fantastic looking 20 hit combos. At the end of the day, Dengeki Bunko is a face-rollling button masher and that’s not necessarily a bad thing but those of you who want a deep fighter, it’s better to look elsewhere.
Graphically, the game looks and runs relatively well. With bright, colorful combos and backgrounds, Dengeki Bunko is another great looking title for our favorite handheld. The technical limitations of the Vita keep this title from the favorable 60 fps and sometimes struggles with keeping a locked 30 frames. When you have four players on the screen at once, the game will definitely drop a few frames here and there. Nothing that was detrimental to my fun, but I’m sure there are others that will not stand for it. The characters are drawn very well, the artstyle is both vibrant and colorful and the Japanese voiceovers are well done. However, as always, you’ll be seeing and hearing the same animations and catch phrases from the characters every other fight or so. Eventually, you’ll just skip over the fight intros just to get to the meat of the game.
If you took away the licensing and crossover magic, all you’re left with is a very average and competent fighter. With very basic moves and a button masher design, I’m not sure if it’s really aimed towards a fighting game enthusiast. With that being said, fans of the Dengeki Bunko universe will sure to love the fan service and attention to detail that the game delivers, but fighting game fans will probably be better served elsewhere.