Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax Review
*Disclaimer* PR provided a review code to the reviewer. This does not affect his judgement
Developer: Ecole Software/French Bread
Platform: PS3, PS Vita
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
– Even envoys of hope can’t save this dream-
Fighting games have grown tremendously since the olden days of the arcade. Many of these games can be found on home consoles now and have become much more complex with an entire community backing huge events like EVO. With so many fighting games flooding the gaming market these days, there’s not much room for titles that can’t establish a success foundation. Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax serves as an example to fighters that don’t have enough gumption behind the “special” something.
Fun Note: Dengeki Bunko is actually a publishing imprint with ASCII Media Works, which has released light novel titles like Sword Art Online and Toradora! This game celebrates Dengeki Bunko’s 20th anniversary.
Street Fighter has Hadokens and various other projectiles, Soul Caliber is the go to weapon-based fighter and Mortal Kombat amplified the shock and awe factor of fatalities. Among many others, these fighter have evolved as time progressed, inspiring fans of each respected franchise to invest countless hours in training or watch matches when official tournaments are broadcast online. As with each franchise mentioned, Fighting Climax certainly has a draw for players to latch onto, though this particular “draw” is probably not strong enough to maintain most people.
Attracting potential fans to a fighting game can be tricky business, especially for the new game on the block. Fighting Climax does one thing and one thing only to bring players to its doorstep and that’s the roster themselves. I am a perfect example of how Fighting Climax‘s draw works. At first, I didn’t plan on covering this game at all, and certainly wasn’t going to spend money on this unknown title. That’s when I noticed Taiga Aisaka from the ROM-COM anime I had most recently watched called Toradora! It was at this moment when my inner fanboy spoke and stated “I need to request for this game”!
Here I am now, ultimately disappointed with Fighting Climax and not even the Palm-Top Tiger could sway me. In short, this game will only appeal to people who will recognize characters from the Dengeki Bunko light novel/anime series and quite possibly not even a majority of these fans will care to stick around. It’s sad really because despite the love for certain characters and the untapped potential here, Fighting Climax comes across as a mere mediocre fan-service experience.
14 playable characters are available for players to choose from, hailing from light novels like Black Bullet, Heavy Object, The Devil Is A Part-Timer! and so on. Because Sega published this title, it’s only natural to see some Sega franchises scattered throughout this title. Akira from Virtua Fighter and Valkyria Chronicles’ Selvaria can also join the fray once conditions for their unlocking have been met. In addition to the playable characters, 22 assist characters can be chosen to create a two person fighting team. These characters also come from the various Dengeki Bunko imprints, while Pai from Virtua Fighter also arrives as an assist. Out of all these characters, Taiga still remains my favorite, even though she has clear disadvantages when compared to the other fighters.
I can’t tell if this was done on purpose or not but while some characters have a lengthy command list to perform, other have barely anything to work with; causing a severe imbalance when comparing fighters. Taiga serves as a perfect example because command list consist of single motion/button inputs and nothing else. Comparing Taiga to someone like Kirito for example is almost comically. Kirito has a much more expansive command list and almost immediately, I realized Kirito is such a broken character because of how simple yet destructive his combos are. I could literally perform a 40+ hit combo by using only two buttons and not even calling in my assist character. If he doesn’t scream OP, I must be deaf, blind and fighting game stupid.
While I almost dislike saying it, I’m calling Fighting Climax how I see it. I felt as if not enough effort went into this game– despite it being a part of Dengeki’s 20th anniversary. Nothing about Fighting Climax kept me entertained for more than five minutes. The story mode is so bland, players could practically skip every line of dialogue without the worry of missing crucial information. Aside from the arcade story, the console version includes “Dream Mode”. This option serves as a secondary “story” where the characters from various Dengeki Bunko franchises would collide with each other.In reality, all dream mode offers up is sparse lines of dialogue and inside jokes– enough to make anyone yawn. While it’s interesting to see Rentaro from Black Bullet exchanging dialogue (and fists) with Durarara‘s Shizuo, only diehard of diehard fans will care to see all of what dream mode entails.
Once players get bored exploring the story elements and believe me, boredom is an inevitable outcome, exploring the fighting engine in more depth can be done either with the training or challenge mode features. Training speaks for itself and is perfect for players who want to perfect that 40+hit combo. Challenge on the other hands, is where I went to learn combos and tricks to gain an upper hand against potential opponents. Though sadly, I rarely had any luck connecting with players from Japan or those who imported the game. The few I did run into cleared played more than myself. In the end, even with a multitude of modes to choose from: the gameplay itself helps stops Fighting Climax from being the very best it could be.
I know how impossible it is to have a fighting game be this perfectly balanced machine everyone wants it to be but Fighting Climax felt too unstable for me. With most fighters, I feel players always have an opportunity to turn around a losing fight if the skill level is right–even against truly skilled players. Fighting Climax feels highly exploitable because the game is not nearly as solid or well-grounded as some of the fighting games I’ve played recently. Even fellow anime fighter Guilty Gear, while quite fast-paced, functions on a stable foundation. Now, I may not be some renown fighting game tactician who could explain how technical fighting games are but I do know when I experience an unbalanced title.
Each fighter seems to have combos which can be pulled off without the strain of inputting multiple movements or button presses. I noticed this first when I could perform a knock-up and aerial combo by just holding and hitting the square button twice with Taiga. This move not only achieves a 4-5 hit combo but also acts as an armored attack– allowing Taiga to be offensive and defensive at the same time. A lot of the more damaging combos are as simple to pull off as a quarter-circle-forward Hadoken and all it takes is for someone to figure out how to implement these easy combos into deadly ones; thus creating an annoyance within the Fighting Climax community.
For fighting game vets, Fighting Climax will offer up all of its secrets within the first playthrough. As far as training material is concerned, players will run out of material too quickly thanks to some of the characters not being thoroughly developed. Within my 30 mins playing as Taiga for the first time, I had figured out her entire command list and I want to say about 80% of her fighting potential. There’s just not enough happening here to keep players busy for an extended period of time and this is not a good sign for any game.
Releasing on the PS3 and PS Vita doesn’t help at this junction either. The PS3 system is beginning to die out as companies are focusing more on current gen systems, while Sony’s handheld hasn’t exactly established itself a stable fanbase. In addition, an updated version dubbed “Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax Ignition is already available in Japan and is said to contain more balanced gameplay. No word yet of Ignition arriving outside of Japan but I’m betting Sega awaits to see how well this version does internationally.
+ Anime characters fighting other anime characters
+ Beginner friendly
– Rather dull fighting experience
– Some characters aren’t developed properly
– Not enough material to keep players around
Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax would make a decent title for a fighting game beginner to practice on but everyone else will get bored of this very fast. The game just doesn’t hold a candle to these other fighters out in the industry right now and I’m positive Fighting Climax will fall under most peoples’ radars. The potential is there and maybe the updated version has it. I would wait to see if the updated version releases outside of Japan, wait on a price drop or simply rent this otherwise lackluster fighter.
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