Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is a brand new 2d fighting game developed by Sega for the Playstation 3 and more impressively the Playstation Vita. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my Playstation Vita and so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Dengeki Bunko. Mind you that Dengeki Bunko’s console release is probably a bit different, if not better in terms of graphics, this review is being based off of the Vita version of the game.
So what is Dengeki Bunko? Imagine a fighting game with characters from some of your favorite Japanese series: Akira from Virtua Fighter, Asuna and Kirito from Sword Art Online, Selvaria Bles from Valkyria Chronicles as well as 14 more. Well if you’re into the whole Japanese gaming or anime market then you’re probably pissing your pants with excitement. If you’re not then you probably can stop reading now as this game really won’t interest you too much.
Dengeki Bunko takes an odd approach to it’s visual style having all characters drawn in 2d while all backgrounds are rendered in 3d. There are 10 different maps in total covering numerous games supporting both characters from the game as well as classic Sega games for instance you have a map dedicated to Virtua Fighter and Valkyria Chronicles but also have a Sonic and NiGHTS stage. Irregardless of what stage you play on there isn’t really any difference as the stages are nothing but a background, with no way to interact with the actual levels. It would have been nice to see features like that within the game but it also isn’t necessarily needed. The characters can be customized in terms of their outfit colors of which each alternate outfit can be purchased with in-game money which is earned by playing through the games different modes. Additionally you can customize your icon, plate and title for what other players will see when you play in online matches, again each purchased with in-game currency. It isn’t an overly elaborate customization system but it is a nice little way to differentiate yourself from other players.
The game has a few different game types though because this is a fighting game the change in game mode is really just a slight deviation of the rules. Story allows you to play through the games story as whatever playable character you selected. Unfortunately the story is exactly the same for each character. The game follows a somewhat strange plot of your character being summoned by a NPC known as Denshin. Denshin needs you to battle an evil entity known as Zetsumu for the purpose of saving the planets dreams. Or something along those lines. Truthfully the story was portrayed in a relatively poor way. It seemed to me that Zetsumu traveled from planet to planet consuming the dreams of those who inhabit that planet essentially killing that planets inhabitants. Now on Earth you are our last defense from being dream robbed. By battling Zetsumu in all different skins? It wasn’t overly clear but if you’re into the game you also probably don’t really care about the story. It seems subpar and it seems it was designed that way intentionally. Other game types include Versus, which is the obvious choose your character and opponent and have at it mode, Score Attack, which is fighting to try and break a specific score within 9 fights, Time Attack, which is battling as many characters as you can in 99 seconds and Survival Mode in which you must survive as many battles as you can with one bar of life. The game also packs in a training mode for you to practice with each character as well as a Network play mode which is pretty obviously online PVP.
The game also packs in some special features like the ability to listen to in-game tracks, view novel covers that were the basis for each character and a gallery of visual art and voice recordings for each character. This stuff is especially nice for those of you who are hardcore into the characters and the animes and games that they come from. Each character in the game is voiced by their original anime voice actor and the game tries its best to really show its dedication to each character and show/games uniqueness as conveyed in the games dialog, music and levels. Furthermore the game runs absolutely flawlessly on the Vita with no real slowdowns or problems. The game is visually appealing with bright, vibrant colors all over the place.
Despite all of the above the truth is that Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is a really average fighter. It does many things well, especially to appease its niche audience, but it doesn’t really go very far outside of that. The game is very much a light weight fighter and doesn’t feature any of the complexities you’ll find in games like Guilty Gear. Dengeki really doesn’t do anything unique to stray off of the path that has become pretty standard within fighting games. Unless you’re a hardcore fan of the characters and series’ that exist under the Dengeki Bunko brand the game really isn’t of any interest. Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax had a lot of potential for attracting and pulling in new fans but instead stuck to catering towards its existing fan base. This isn’t necessarily a problem but something that I see more as a missed opportunity. If you’ve already got an interest in the characters the game features then Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is a must pick up. Other wise I’d suggest you shift your sights on a game like Marvel vs. Capcom, Guilty Gear or even BlazBlue depending on your particular tastes.
Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax gets a 7 out of 10