This beautiful and inspired fighter has aged well, but this bare-bones edition is far from ‘Revised’. The game does feature an engaging and fair fighting system with creative 3D characters and a cheerful storyline that’ll surely make you chuckle as you play through it. Outside of that, the game suffers from a horrendous network feature, uninspired game modes, and only native voice overs. For a discount fighter, this should give fans and newcomers alike some real enjoyment, but outside of the storyline, there’s not a lot of reasons to get really good at a fighter you can’t play with others.
WHAT WE LIKED
º A gorgeous variety of artwork; awesome 3D character and stage design.
º A balanced, responsive system that rewards strategy over spamming.
º A story mode you’ll actually take the time to enjoy.
WHAT WE DISLIKED º Online multiplayer is broken, and dismal when it works.
º Lack of any new additions to an already barebones experience.
º Outside of subtitles and menu screens, no English localization.
While playing Battle Fantasia, had I had conflicting moments where I felt like I was back in the late ‘90s. On one hand, I use to love playing games like Guilty Gear X2 with my friends. On the other, those games don’t play nearly as well as they used to. And that’s how my experience with the game went; one minute I’m having the time of my life as I string together combos, obliterating my opponents in a string of beautiful flashes and sound effects. Then in the next, frustrated by the dated and barebones experience this ‘Revised Edition’ offers.
Obviously, fighting games should have a level of frustration to them. If you could storm through every opponent, and toppled every storyline without any kind of challenge, no one would play it. The frustration sinks in for all the wrong reasons, and it ruins a perfectly fun and well-balanced fighting game. That’s not to say fighting fans won’t get enjoyment out of this experience.
If it sounds like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth- I am. It’s hard to pin this game down and fault it when it has so much charm and imagination.
Let’s start with the most important part of the game, and address the fighting system. It’s well-balanced, with each fighter offering similar reach and power. They have a nice diversity of styles; some better focused on keeping distance, some effective when stringing together light combos. The move sets are a little barren, giving most characters a long-range projectile and a couple of close-range power combos that elicits a mass amount of damage. While it might not offer a wide diversity of moves, the ones that are here work and makes the game feel balanced among all the characters. Blocking is based on retreating, and while I prefer a block button it does work well here.
This entry was a breakaway from their very popular Guilty Gear series, so this was a big move for Arc System Works. The game was built so the company could focus more on its 3D development over their traditional 2D sprites. While they weren’t the first, the look and gameplay still hold up today.
The character designs are simple but offer a great range of fantasy-inspired diversity. A young cat girl named Coyori, who’s can quickly take you out with the equipment from her waitress job. There’s Urs, a young warrior with a motorcycle engine-powered chainsaw, and his overly-confident younger brother Marco who carries an oversized sword and a minuscule dragon. There’s Watson, a young mage rabbit who would easily fit into the Final Fantasy universe. The roster is simply charming, and you don’t usually see this kind of assortment of characters in fighting games, and it’s refreshing to see a group of fighters that didn’t come out of a bodybuilder magazine.
The story mode is pretty fun if you’re okay with anime-inspired tropes. The characters are overly one-dimensional, will produce giant beads of sweat on their head and will scream frustratingly in Japanese. If that doesn’t bother you, then you’re going to love the light-hearted and amusing stories they wrote to connect the battles together. The characters are hysterical, with the most asinine reasons for journeying to battle Deathbringer, the game’s main antagonist. Some are seeking revenge, some want to save the world, while others are simply chasing a goblin who dine-and-dashed.
The artwork evokes the sense of a storybook and features a ton of watercolored ink drawings to help build the outlandish world. Most would be afraid to venture into a world with anthropomorphic character designs, especially in a fighting game, but the art department did an amazing job of keeping visual consistency across all of their designs. As much as I like it, some of it comes across a little light in terms of polish, and certain characters seem like they were glossed over, and lack the additional revisions needed to make them stand out.
One of my biggest complaints with this game is its lack of features. Granted it’s only 15 bucks, but outside of the story and arcade mode, there’s not much else going on. There are a survival mode and a time attack, but in all honesty, this is simply pitiful for a ‘revised edition’. What was revised? The system you can play it on? Five years and this is the best you can do? I might overlook that if the game didn’t already feature a ridiculously small assortment of variety; 12 characters and 10 stages. If complaints about MKX having 29 characters and 12 stages can be heard, I see no reason for any qualms with complaining about a game that’s releasing itself back into the market.
Battle Fantasia isn’t remastered for true HD either and only runs at 720i. While this may be a hangup for some technical players, I didn’t have any problem with it. It still looks good, and plays well for me, although I did read that some players were experiencing framerate issues. I have an average build, so I’m not sure about potatoes, but an updated build should handle this game fine.
I also feel slightly gypped, because when the description said “RPG-themed fighting game”, I thought there might’ve been some sort of cool customization or character building infused into part of the game. However, outside of the game’s theme and its inconsequential hit point system, I don’t see the connection. Someone needs to make that game though- that would be amazing.
And my biggest complaint is the network play. This system is simply broken. I tried connecting, waiting a half an hour for anyone to hop on. Finally, I got to play one match; it was so choppy I think the other player gave up on me half way through. Hard lined, I could only get into one game- that’s it. I tried many times, with a bunch of different players, but I couldn’t get one more chance at the experience of trying out some of my combos on other players. Multiplayer is slapped on, and because of this, I’ve removed some of my gameplay score.
The music and sound design is playful enough, and offers a real cutesy atmosphere without taking away from the fast-paced action. It reminds me of Dragon Quest VIII, with a nice arrangement of horns, brass, and digitized percussion, but featuring a nice bassy undertone perfect for a fighting game. The sound effects all seem to work well in this environment and features the grunts and taunts you could expect from this style of game.
In closing, I’m not a huge competitive fighting game fan. I’ve played my fair share of them in the past, but put me next to a true fan and I’m going to get stomped every time. If you’re like me, and you’re looking for a nice, well-balanced fighter with a unique and vivid world- this game could be for you. If you’re a technical, hardcore fan of the genre, you’ve probably already played this game and know if it’s worth getting it on PC. Overall, I think for 15 bucks, you can’t go wrong in checking it out- just don’t expect to be playing it online unless the developer patches it.