Dengeki Bunko Fight­ing Cli­max

PS3, Vita

EDGE - - GAMES - Pub­lisher Sega De­vel­oper Ecole Soft­ware, French Bread For­mat PS3 (ver­sion tested), Vita Re­lease Out now (Ja­pan)

Dengeki Bunko is a pub­lisher of what are re­ferred to as ‘light nov­els’, novella-length sto­ries aimed at a teen au­di­ence. Sim­i­larly, Dengeki Bunko Fight­ing Cli­max can be thought of as a light fight­ing game, an ac­ces­si­ble take on genre con­ven­tions that low­ers the tech­ni­cal de­mands on play­ers while en­sur­ing they see all the best things fight­ing games have to of­fer and still feel ab­surdly pow­er­ful. In that sense, it’s the Holy Grail of fight­ing game mak­ing, but it has come at a cost.

To the eyes, Fight­ing Cli­max is akin to Arc Sys­tem Works’ anime fighters such as Guilty Gear and Per­sona 4 Arena, with sum­mon­able as­sists, Burst combo break­ers, flashy su­pers and com­plex air com­bos. Its cast, drawn from Dengeki Bunko’s out­put with help from pub­lisher Sega, is over­whelm­ingly fe­male and pre­dom­i­nantly school-age, but when the fists start fly­ing, the game re­veals a far greater taste for the slap­stick than Arc’s more se­ri­ous anime stylings. Kirino, a school­girl who mag­i­cally changes cos­tumes be­tween combo hits, flings brief­cases, card­board boxes and beach­balls at her foes, and one of her su­pers traps them in a gi­ant UFO catcher. An­other fighter takes this fur­ther, swing­ing train doors, ovens and vend­ing ma­chines. As­sist char­ac­ters hop onto the screen and sum­mon bolts of light­ning, mag­i­cal pools that fill your su­per me­ter, or ride a mo­tor­bike across the screen that knocks your op­po­nent down. There are more tra­di­tional op­tions – Ren­taro, for in­stance, shoots a pis­tol and has a dragon punch su­per mod­elled on Ken’s Sho­ryureppa – but it says much that he is among the most bor­ing char­ac­ters to fight as.

Which is odd, re­ally, be­cause ev­ery char­ac­ter is func­tion­ally iden­ti­cal. This is the key to Fight­ing Cli­max’s sim­plic­ity: while the dozen char­ac­ters all have a dif­fer­ent moveset, they share a com­mand list. Spe­cial moves are per­formed with ei­ther a half cir­cle for­ward or back; press two attack but­tons to per­form a su­per. Tap light and medium attack at the same time while tap­ping a di­rec­tion on the stick and the re­sult­ing move will break through an op­po­nent’s move, then ei­ther per­form an anti-air, a launcher or an attack that pushes them to­wards the cor­ner. If all that still sounds too much like hard work, keep press­ing light attack for an auto-combo of three nor­mal at­tacks into a spe­cial and a su­per.

It’s a rem­edy to the way new fight­ing games nec­es­sar­ily re­quire you to stick with a sin­gle fighter be­fore you can learn them all, and it’s a novel feel­ing to look at a char­ac­ter se­lect screen and ask your­self not who you can play as, but who you want to be. The in­evitable cost is a lack of depth, but it seems ap­pro­pri­ate given that the source ma­te­rial isn’t ex­actly de­signed to be read and re-read ei­ther.

As­sists come in two flavours, depend­ing on whether the stick is neu­tral or tapped to­wards your foe. So Shizuo’s mo­tor­bike helper, Celty Sturlu­son, will ei­ther travel straight across the screen or fall from the top-left cor­ner

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