Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is a new fighting game from SEGA for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. If you’re not familiar with Dengeki Bunko, it’s a Japanese publisher than primarily releases light novels. In this game, you’ll be able to play as characters from some of Dengeki Bunko’s most popular series, including Sword Art Online, Black Bullet, Accel World, and Strike the Blood. If you’re familiar with any of the light novels being published by Dengeki Bunko (or any of the many anime series based on those light novels), you’re probably going to have a great time with Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax. If not, it’s a bit harder to recommend.
First off, let’s talk about the gameplay. Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is a standard 2D fighting game. You’ll play on one of the ten courses available to you when you first start the game. You start on one side, your opponent on the other. You know this already. What you want to know is how you’ll be pulling off amazing combos and epic special attacks to destroy your enemies. There are eight commands you can use on their own: a weak, medium, or strong move – or a combination of any of these. You could also use a supporting move, which involves your partner. When you pick your character, you also pick a partner. Once they charge up, you can call them in for devastating support attacks on your opponent (one of which is pictured below). Changing your fighter/partner combination to find your favorite pair can be cool, though from what I’ve seen, the support moves never actually change. You can also activate special power-ups that give your character an edge – for example, you can give Kirito an extra sword to match his dual-wielding person from the light novels and anime. This only lasts for a bit, though, so it’s best to save it for the final blows. To be totally honest, I didn’t really see anything revolutionary happen with the gameplay in Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax. I had fun, but it had way more to do with the characters and their respective source material than the standard fighting gameplay.
The characters all look great, and their crisp models are just as impressive as the way that these characters are realized in the source material. The movements and attacks are smooth, and the framerate is relatively solid. I did notice some stutters (especially when playing on PS3), but it was never anything too distracting or obnoxious. The audio is also pretty good – the most impressive part is the voice acting, which really accents the story segments between fights. However, the soundtrack is less exciting, as it’s full of tracks that would fit into pretty much any anime fight scene ever made. The audio and visuals do just enough to make the game look and sound polished, but (like with the gameplay) there’s nothing here that you haven’t seen before.
All of the characters in Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax have their own story, which makes for a decent amount of replayability. There are two story modes – Dream Duel Mode and Arcade Mode. You’re going to notice that Dream Duel Mode (new stories created just for this release) is much more interesting than the traditional Arcade Mode (stories from the original arcade game), but they’re both worth playing. Some stories are better than others. For example, I thought that Asuna, Rentaro, Kirino, and Miyuki had the coolest stories, while Kirito and Shizuo’s stories were unfortunately weak. But I’m also aware that I might feel that way because the stories I enjoyed most were associated with the Dengeki Bunko series that I feel most strongly about. This is something that’s important to know about Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax – your experience of playing by yourself is largely dependent on how you feel about the characters that it includes.
The multiplayer, though, is where Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax really shines. I’m not very good at the game, so I lost far more matches than I won, but I still had a lot of fun. Getting into a match doesn’t take long, and it’s where you’ll spend most of your time if you’re not a fan of light novels or anime. There are some issues with connectivity, but overall it’s a pretty cool experience. This is the mode that I’d recommend the most highly, as it feels like more of a unique experience. After spending a while in story mode, the enemies became somewhat predictable, and it was nice to play with other human players who were strategizing and thinking of new ways to play.
To be completely honest, nothing was particularly exciting about my time with Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax. The fighting is solid, the graphics are smooth, and the online works well, but there’s nothing here that I haven’t seen before. The only thing that kept me going is the interest I have in the characters, and that has everything to do with my personal interests and nothing at all to do with the game. So, whether or not you should play this game depends almost entirely on your interest in Dengeki Bunko and/or anime fighting games. If you absolutely love (or are very interested in) either of those things, then Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is worth your time and money. If not, I’d recommend checking out some gameplay videos and reading a few more reviews before shelling out your money for it. Whether you pick it up or not, all you need to know is that Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is a solid anime fighter that plays it safe by sticking to the basics of the genre. While that’s a bit annoying if you play a lot of fighting games, it does make for a thoroughly playable and enjoyable experience.
Review copy provided by SEGA (Played on PS Vita and PS3)