Battle Fantasia Xbox 360 Review

May 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews, Xbox 360

Street Fighter IV is one part of a long established franchise, that sold in huge quantities, Battle Fantasia isn’t. So I have to question why 505 Games would release an unproven game right on the tail of Capcom’s masterful fighter, perhaps they’re hoping Street Fighter IV has caused a fighting game revival of sorts.

Battle Fantasia may very well be a fresh faced competitor, but developer, Arc System Works, are grizzled veterans of the fighting game craft. Amongst hardcore fans of the genre they’re well regarded for their mental Guilty Gear series, which with its complex mechanics, is one of the deepest fighting games ever devised.

There’s no such complexity for Battle Fantasia though, it takes a much more accessible approach, that is welcome enough for the fighting game casual, but it also has enough intricacy so as to please the hardcore, just as long as they’re not seeking the developers flagship series insane level of depth of course.

Battle Fantasia is also less twisted than Guilty Gear is: it has a much more sugar coated cutesy style and of all things, it uses RPGS for much of its design inspirations, so you have a HP gauge and a MP gauge and numbers also popup to signify character damage. On the other hand, its character roster consists of designs that don’t entirely look as if they were dreamt up by someone who probably should be locked up in a padded cell by now, so it certainly differs to Guilty Gear in that regard too.

The characters closest to Ryu and Ken in terms of style are brothers: the hot headed Urs and wide eyed Marco. There are also two charge characters: whiny priest, Cedric and the one armed pirate, Freed. Donvale the old inventor and ex dwarf king is, with his reliance on throws to dent his opponents life bar, essentially the game’s version of Zangief. A bit more unique are combo focussed characters like the Cat-girl Coyori (who even fights whilst balancing a cup of tea in her hand) and the masked gunman named face (ironically so). In total there are twelve characters, which isn’t a large selection, but largely they are a solid bunch and there’s enough variety there, that almost everyone should be able to find someone that they like.

All these characters get their own stories within the aptly named story mode. For once, they’re fairly substantial and surprisingly engaging and are presented by well drawn art and Japanese dialogue. They’re also full of clichés, but generally they have a very oddball Japanese style sense of humour, that grants them a certain level of charm.

Mechanically, Battle Fantasia has all the QCF commands we’ve come to expect from fighting games of the 2D variety, as well as super moves (here powered by the MP gauge). Slightly less ordinary is the Heat up system, which uses one level of your MP gauge and is a powerful state that, depending on the character, either enhances their special moves (a bit like the ex moves in Street Fighter IV) or gives them new attacks altogether.

There’s also the GAICHI mechanic, which is essentially a Street Fighter 3 style parry system and if you want to make effective use of it, certainly one of the most learning intensive facets of the game. You can’t just simply bash the button here, it takes precise timing to cancel out your opponents attacks. On the other hand, pressing forward and the GAICHI button at the same time, will produce a high GAICHI drive which sends your opponent flying across the screen, leaving them open to massive combinations, whilst diagonally-forward and the GAICHI command will execute a low GAICHI drive, which sends them hurtling into the wall, leaving them stunned and open to attack.

Battle Fantasia has buckets of charm and well tuned fighting mechanics, but is also a country mile away from Street Fighter IV in terms of quality. It should, however, be considered as a great alternative, particularly if you are able to stomach the sugary visual style, as well as accept the fact that it’s a much more accessible game than the developers own Guilty Gear series.

8/10

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