Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
- DAILY REVIEWS -
Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . While not as deep as Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, Dengeki Bunko is one of the few anime fighting games to get the genre right. Some hardcore fans of the genre will complain that it's not deep enough, but there's enough content here to make Dengeki Bunko worth playing regardless of whether you love these characters or, like me, struggle at pronouncing their names. Rating: 71%
Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax
«
Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax
  • Review Score:

  • B
I know I'm going to alienate myself by saying this, but I don't have a high opinion of anime fighting games. Dragon Ball Z, Saint Seiya, Naruto and the rest of Bandai Namco's offerings have left me convinced that anime fighters are little more than fan service. Their gameplay mechanics are often too simple, relying on the most basic button mashing combos to get the job done. They may look the part, but fighting game fans unfamiliar with the source material will find little enjoyment in most of these anime titles.

As an outsider, I've spent a lot of my career nonplussed by this subset of the fighting genre. I simply assumed that I wasn't getting much out of the experience because I never watched the anime or read the manga. But Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax suggests that maybe that's not the case. Perhaps my problem with anime fighting games is that they often focus too much on the anime, with the gameplay left as an afterthought.


Dengeki Bunko is a traditional 2D fighting game starring characters pulled from an eclectic mix of popular anime series. We get fighters from Sword Art Online, Strike the Blood, Black Bullet, The Irregular at Magic High School, Accel World and more. Having never even heard of most of these shows, I went into this game fearing the worst. But much to my surprise, I didn't feel like an outsider while playing Dengeki Bunko. Finally, an anime fighting game that anybody can get into.

A lot of this has to do with the familiar gameplay, which is reminiscent of two decade's worth of Capcom fighting games. If you know how to throw a fireball in Street Fighter, then you'll have no problem jumping into Dengeki Bunko. Even without any prior knowledge of the characters or how they play, I was immediately pulling off powerful combos and exciting special attacks. This is a game designed to leave a great first impression.

The cast of characters is wildly diverse in both looks and attitude. There's a nice mix of fighters who range from deadly serious to over-the-top silly. For example, Shana enters the fight with a flaming sword that spins around and shoots fire. Similarly, Rentaro Satomi is packing a gun and powerful jump kick. One look at these fighters and you know they mean business.

On the other hand, there are a number of goofy characters ready to lighten the mood. Tomoka Minato treats the fight like a basketball game, quite literally throwing the enemy into the hoop. Kirino Kousaka will throw just about everything at her opponent, including a traditional crane game. It's these silly flourishes that help keep the battles interesting. The over-the-top moves do a great job of defining each character and visually demonstrating their personalities. Whether or not it's accurate to the source material is up for somebody else to decide.

Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax (PS Vita)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Although Dengeki Bunko is a one-on-one fighting game, both characters can bring in a secondary support helper. There are more than two dozen friendly faces to choose from, each representing a different anime series. This expands the reach beyond the core fighters and gives us a chance to use characters from Boogiepop, Kino's Journey, The Devil Is a Part-Timer, Golden Time and more. Best of all, players can call for support at the press of a button.

Along with the typical arcade mode, Dengeki Bunko does something I've always wanted crossover games to do. With so many disparate characters across a wide variety of anime series, it only makes sense to create dream scenarios that see your favorite characters interacting with unrelated fighters. There are more than 60 different vignettes, each one full of drama and humor. Players already familiar with the cast will find a lot to love in this Dream Duel mode.

Speaking of crossovers, this game features more than anime characters. I was delighted to discover a number of Sega cameos, including fighters and stages taken directly from Sonic the Hedgehog, Virtua Fighter, Valkyria Chronicles, Shinobi and even NiGHTS into Dreams. This is a nice treat for longtime Sega fans, and I was surprised how comfortably these properties fit in with the rest of cast. I would have liked to have seen more old school Sega games represented, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

With only three attack buttons, the gameplay in Dengeki Bunko can feel a bit limited at times. It's also disappointing that so many of the combos and motions are the same between characters. The simplified mechanics feel like they were created to bring new people into the genre, and I suspect hardcore fighting game enthusiasts will quickly lose interest and move on to something deeper.

Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax (PS Vita)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Even if this pales in comparison to Guilty Gear, BlazBlue or any number of the more serious anime-inspired fighting games, I was won over by the colorful cast of characters and gorgeous backgrounds. I also like that the visuals are never so chaotic that I can't tell what's going on. And even the most mundane match-ups become action-packed thanks to the high-energy soundtrack.

Of course, it's not shocking that the licensed characters and backgrounds come off looking good. What did surprise me is how much I enjoyed the one-on-one combat. It didn't matter that I had no prior connection to these characters and stories, because Dengeki Bunko puts the fighting game before the fan service. Some hardcore fans of the genre will complain that it's not deep enough, but there's enough content here to make Dengeki Bunko worth playing regardless of whether you love these characters or, like me, struggle at pronouncing their names.
comments powered by Disqus