Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax Review

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Title: Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax
Developer: Kadokawa, Sega
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 939 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: No

The fighting genre is something the PS Vita has an abundance of.  I could list the Vita’s fights forever.  Arcana Heart 3: Love Max.  BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma.  Injustice.  Mortal Kombat.  Street Fighter x Tekken.  Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3.  The list goes on and on, and the Vita just keeps getting more fighting games.  Not too long should be the release of Skullgirls 2nd Encore, adding yet another fighter to the Vita library.

Anime fans can look forward to one of the upcoming Vita fighters, which is Dengeki Bunko.  This game takes a roster from visual novels as well as the publishing company, Sega.  Many fans are saddened, however, with the fact that an updated version of the game with 4 extra playable characters has already been announced for Japan when the first game still hasn’t released in the West.  Not until tomorrow, anyways.  Despite this fact, I present my review of Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax!

Story

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In an unknown world, there is an evil creature known as Zetsumu that wishes to conquer worlds and destroy the hopes of all living beings.  The character you choose in Arcade Mode is summoned by another being of that world that wishes to stop Zetsumu, making you her champion.  In response to this, Zetsumu repeatedly fights you, using the forms of people from worlds that he has conquered and destroyed.

The story isn’t anything special, really.  There is the Dream Duel Mode, where characters interact with each other in a more fan-pleasing way, but all in all, you shouldn’t play this for the story.  While I was expecting a decent cross-over story, all that’s here is pretty generic story with references to your character’s world here and there.

Gameplay

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Dengeki Bunko is a 2D fighting game in the likeness of Arcana Heart and BlazBlue.  Each battle puts you in a stage where you fight your opponent with attack combinations until one character runs out of health, normally in a round-to-round basis.  While there are unique aspects to each game mode, the gameplay is always the same.  It’s a 2D fighting game.

When you boot the game, you have various game modes to choose from.  There are sections for Story Versus, Network and Ad Hoc, Challenges, Training, Customization, and Options.  Story Mode consists of Arcade Mode and Dream Duel.  Arcade is where you go through the storyline with a character of your choice from the 12 initial playable characters (the two unlockable Sega characters can’t go through Story Mode).  Dream Duel is more mission-based with choosing 6 specific characters for your chosen one to interact with.

Versus Mode allows you to set up battles against the CPU to help hone your skills.  Network and Ad Hoc let you play against other people, be it local with Ad Hoc or on the PlayStation Network.  One thing to note about this mode is that it is cross-region play, meaning you can play against North America, Europe, Asia, or Japan players.

Challenge lets you take part in challenging modes.  Score Attack urges you to do your best to get high scores.  Time Attack records how long it takes you to go through a normal flurry of fights.  Finally, Survival has you pitted against enemies endlessly as the difficulty goes up until you’re taken down.  Scores In these modes can be uploaded to the PSN Leaderboards for comparison with others.  Finally, Training lets you practice against a CPU that doesn’t move.

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When you beat most of the game modes (Dream Duel being an exception), you’re awarded points that can be used in the Customize Shop, letting you buy banners and icons for your Player Profile or additional color schemes for the playable characters.  You can also unlock character profiles and visual novel artwork by playing the game that you can read and view in the Special section.

Combat is typical for a 2D fighter.  You’re on 2D side-scrolling plane and have normal, medium, and heavy attacks to be able to use in combination with other attacks.  You also have skills and a Climax Gauge that increases as you deal and take damage.

The main two unique aspects are Assists and the Blast Gauge.  You equip an assist character when you go into battle and can summon them at any time to do one of two attacks.  Then, their bar recharges to use them again.  Assists work similar to how assist attacks work in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.  The Blast Gauge is a gauge that recharges, too.  You can use it at 100% to give you a large addition to your Climax Gauge to start off with your ultimate attacks.  Or you can keep it and it can be used to cancel out a combo you’re trapped in.

Difficulty is what you make of it.  BlazBlue, for example, is a very die-hard fighting game that is tough to play.  This game isn’t as hard as BlazBlue, but it’s not easy, either.  You can tone down the difficulty to a low setting in single player and make it pretty doable for any gamer, but once you jump into Multiplayer, you’re on your own.  I do pretty well in single player on the normal difficulty, and I get annihilated every time I go online.

A single play through Arcade Mode across all playable characters shouldn’t take you more than a couple hours or so per character and the same is true for Dream Duel.  If you add in unlocking the two Sega characters and trying everything out at least once, you can clock your time in the game at roughly 4-5 hours.  This isn’t counting going for some of those harder trophies or digging into Multiplayer.  Still, this isn’t a bad length for a fighting game with very little story.

Controls

First of all, I am going to confuse the PlayStation TV owners.  There are no camera, touch, rear touch, or tilt controls in the game.  Everything is controlled with the button interface.  However, the game is not compatible with the PlayStation TV.  I inquired about this with my Sega Press Relations contact, and it looks like they have no plans of making it compatible.  Whether this is because of the updated version coming out or not, I don’t know.  But if you have a PSTV, Dengeki Bunko will not launch on it at all.

Moving your character can be done with the D-Pad or Left Analog, though I prefer the D-Pad for more precision.  The Right Analog Stick isn’t used for anything.  The Square, Triangle, and Circle buttons are used for your different kind of attacks and the X button is used to summon your Assist Character.  L and R can be set to a variety of button combinations for different functions.

All in all, it’s a pretty simple control scheme.  Many fighting game fans will be familiar with these type of controls, so no need to worry about a large learning curve.  The main learning curve is just learning how Dengeki Bunko works compared to other fighters, which is something you have to do in any fighting game.

Presentation

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Visually, the game looks good, but not as good as it could.  The backgrounds for each stage look flawless and fantastic.  Each stage is themed around Sega games, like Phantasy Star Online 2 and Sonic and they look great.  The character sprits are what weren’t as optimized as they should have been.  Games like BlazBlue on the Vita look really crisp.  In Dengeki Bunko, the sprites are much less high quality than its PS3 counterpart.  I won’t say it looks ugly, but there’s quite a bit of jagginess and faded areas on the models.

As far as performance is concerned, everything runs pretty well.  I’ve never had any problems with lag or frame-rate, whether I was playing in single player or online in a lobby with several others.  The Load Times are also pretty short, so there aren’t any complaints to how the game runs.

Summary

Dengeki Bunko is one of those dream-come-true cross-over games for visual novel fans.  On the downside, the story is nothing special and the visuals aren’t nearly as high quality as they should be.  If you can look past the jaggy character sprites, you’ll find a fun anime cross-over game for fighting fans to enjoy or people looking into broadening their VN and Anime horizons. 

8/10

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