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Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Although needlessly vague, Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm is set to win over fans with a memorable cast that mimics some of the best fighting games from Capcom and SNK. With a gorgeous presentation and speedy gameplay, this is the Street Fighter/Last Blade mash-up I never knew I wanted. Rating: 85%
Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm
Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm
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If you asked me to name my favorite fighting game, I would instinctively say Street Fighter II. It's the game I've put the most time into and so many of my favorite fighting game memories are tied to that franchise. But if you were to really press me on the topic, I might surprise you by changing my answer. Given careful thought and consideration, there's a chance my final answer would be The Last Blade 2.

I bring this up not to wow you of my knowledge of two different fighting game franchises, but rather to let you know that I'm one of those hopeless souls who has spent the last seventeen years praying SNK would continue The Last Blade series. As is so often the case, I was putting my hopes in the wrong place. While I held out hope for the return of Yuki, Lee Rekka and the rest of the 19th century samurais, three former SNK superstars were cooking up something even better.

To be flippant, Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm is the Last Blade/Street Fighter mash-up I never knew I wanted. It started its life as a 2011 arcade game that borrowed heavily from Capcom's Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the creators have updated the roster, cleaned up the visuals and introduced this wildly addictive fighting game to the brand new Steam audience.

Yatagarasu sports a gorgeous hand-drawn pixel look that fits in perfectly with the fighting games greats of the 1990s. The eleven characters are dripping with personality and each handle the battle in completely different ways. Most of the women fight with swords and daggers, while the men use their strength and supernatural fireballs to win the day.

Punches, kicks and parries are spread across six buttons, giving fighting game fans a set-up that is both familiar and unique. The special moves will also stir memories, as most are accomplished using quarter circle rotations and charging motions. Even the characters seem to be thinly-veiled versions of some of your favorite fighters. It shouldn't surprise anybody that Yatagarasu has its own Ryu analog, complete with similar fireballs, spinning kicks and uppercuts.

Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

My favorite characters were those willing to take down their competition with swords and knives. Hina may look like a typical school girl, but underneath that pink hair is a master swordsman with a penchant for charge attacks. Chadha, on the other hand, is a large Zangeif-type who is ready to bring the megadeath pressure. And then there's Kotaro, a new character that zips around the screen wielding a tiny dagger and bubbly personality.

Whether intentional or not, the swords vs. strength match-up is surprisingly compelling. The swordplay is often mesmerizing to look at and adds a dynamic you rarely see in Street Fighter wannabes. While the Match of the Millennium brought The King of Fighters characters into Capcom's universe, Yatagarasu confirms that a Ryu vs. Samurai Showdown matchup is much more compelling.

Although I stumbled at first, it didn't take long for me to warm up to this 2D fighter. When Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm clicked, it sucked me in like few games have before. I was immediately transported to some of my favorite 1990s memories, only to realize that I'm playing it all for the first time. I can almost smell the cigarette smoke wafting through the air at my local arcade. It's that effective.

Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Unfortunately, the developers hope you'll bring all that twenty year old knowledge with you. There's no hand-holding in Yatagarasu; the developers throw you in the deep in and hope you'll swim. There's a training mode, but it's woefully out of its depth when trying to explain even the most basic moves. You'll discover special ultimate attacks and how to parry through trial and error, not unlike walking up to an arcade game for the first time. And it certainly doesn't help that every move comes with a long, nearly unpronounceable name.

The vagueness extends beyond learning how to control your character. For inexplicable reasons, Yatagarasu offers two completely different arcade modes, each with unique stories. I like having two arcade modes, but they are both named the same thing and it's not immediately clear how they differ. This is just one of the many examples of the game feeling disappointingly incomplete.

And then there's the online mode. Although the game comes with more internet tuning options than I know what to do with, it still took me the better part of a day to get reliable results. Eventually I jumped through enough hoops to find my way online, and it was largely a mixed bag. I ran into a few connection issues with other players, as well as a number of matches that looked like they were being fought underwater.

Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Just as I was about to give up on Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm, I found a room where everything ran perfectly. The matches were competitive, the lag was non-existent and everybody rotated like it was an old school arcade. Sure, I lost more than I won, but I had a giant grin on my face the whole damn time. When running smoothly, a competitive Yatagarasu room is hard to top.

Speaking of things hard to top, the game's presentation is in a class all its own. Every character is rendered with a loving attention to detail, complete with memorable animations and poses. Their moves are dramatic, but never too flashy. This isn't Marvel vs. Capcom, so don't expect the over-the-top fireworks we've come to expect from modern fighters. The backgrounds are also classy, and they even change as the fights drag on.

Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm is a love letter to some of my favorite Capcom and SNK fighting games. It's familiar without feeling redundant, and an absolute steal at $15. Some gamers may be miffed its vague nature and online set-up, but don't let that keep you away from one of this year's best fighters.
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