Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is a 2D fighting game that features an unusual collaboration between popular anime characters from various Japanese light novels and SEGA proprietary characters. While fans of these franchises will enjoy watching their favorite characters battle it out, those not in the loop with Japanese culture will get a somewhat stale experience. Although solid enough as a fighting game, the emphasis here is certainly not on gameplay and can often leave newcomers disconnected from the fun.
Nothing out of the Ordinary
Those well acquainted with 2D fighters will notice how Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax does very little to stray from the path, delivering basic but sound mechanics that get the job done with little fanfare. The usual game modes are present, from Time Attack, Survival and Story Mode – all delivering what players have come to expect. Something fresh on this occasion, however, is Dream Battle Mode, which works to go deeper into character development, a pleasant abnormality amongst the by-the-book presentation found everywhere else and well worth experiencing.
It can often feel a little cramped on the Vita, with graphics proving to meander over to the rough and choppy more that it should with the character sprites themselves being especially disappointing. As the apparent centerpiece here, you’d expect typical Japanese flamboyance, but that’s largely absent with many fighters simply rocking up in suits or uniforms. Attacks and such are well animated in typical vibrancy, but only work to highlight the bland character models and probably aid the sharp drops in frame-rate that occur during especially action-packed fights.
Dressed to Unimpress
Although clad in the basics, the playable fighters are a roster of rather famous faces; featuring a number of familiar faces from both the Dengeki light novel franchises and some of SEGA’s fan favorites. These characters can be used as your primary or assist. Assist act as support for when the going gets a little too tough, but when that’s not enough, you’re able to slam down your Trump Card attack, better known as a special move. These are powerful moves and are unique to each character, while on one hand this means certain levels of skill are needed to master characters it also raises balance issues.
You see, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is riddled with little niggling issues of balance that set it apart from other, more generic fighters. The unique moves vary greatly in strength and effectiveness, leaving some characters with specials no better than a wet fart while others usher in something akin to the apocalypse. The same goes for general character selection, too. Many fighters will be solid, powerful contenders while others are simply as they appear – scantily clad schoolgirls. It’s indicative of some real balancing issues and have a surprisingly negative ripple effect throughout the game.
Most notably, the balancing plays a huge role in the online mode. Players will almost instantly drop out if you pick a particularly well-endowed character, punching you back into matchmaking. It’s incredibly irritating and elongates the process, normally dumping you a selection of shoddy fighters to pick from in a bid to even connect to a match. Fortunately the online community seems to have unanimously boycotted the stronger characters and collectively opt for more balanced fighters, as long as you follow suit you’ll have reasonable fun. It’s just unfortunate that these issues, even exist for the community to have to work around.
Food for the Fans
This is the thing. Deep down, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax isn’t even trying to deliver a groundbreaking, or even particularly memorable fighting game. Instead, it’s serving up a heavy plate of fanservice and it’s hard to argue – it does this pretty darn well. The characters are all there, with favorites cropping up all over the shop while the stages themselves relate to iconic locations from incorporated franchises. Even the music is remixed samples of the source material, simply adding to the service. It’s a super fan’s wet dream and undoubtedly all the better for it. Obviously the other side of this coin is that if you haven’t the foggiest who any of these anime folks are, you’re simply out of luck.
It’s no headline-reaching 2D fighter and does very little to even attempt that kind of a title, instead Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax chooses to focus on fan appeal and delivering a crossover to compete with the likes of Alien Vs. Predator, sort of. As a result, we’re left with a terribly lackluster fighting experience masked under latherings of fan service that is probably enough to placate anime die-hards but leaves newcomers entirely disconnected and disappointed. It’s great that games like this manage to get western releases, but it’s also easy to see why they’re so few and far between.
Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax review copy provided by publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.