Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax Review – My Little Sister Can’t be This Dangerous (Vita Import)

Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax takes several Dengeki Publishing and Sega game characters and mashes them into a respectable fighting game that’s pretty attractive to fans of the source material.
Developer French Bread, who just recently facepunched the market with Under Night In-Birth, was tapped for bringing recognizable figures from Toradora, Sword Art Online, Virtua Fighter, Ore-Imo, and several other properties that otaku culture probably never expected to see in such a crossover.
The fighting is smooth, as would be expected from French Bread, but Dengeki Bunko didn’t quite suck me in as much as July’s Under Night In-Birth did. Once you learn the system, which takes surprisingly little time, combos flow easily and the coolest moves are a breeze to perform. I’m always impressed by these new-age 2D fighters and the wacky attacks they come up with. My favorites in this one comes from Tomoka of Ro-Kyu-Bu, who makes her opponent into a basketball; and Kirino from Ore-Imo plays a skill crane game with the other combatant. What’ll they think of next?
The graphics are a bit behind other games of the same genre. Backgrounds are nice and the special moves are good, but the characters are unimpressive; in a game where the characters are most of the point, that’s disappointing. Comparing this game to 2D PS3 fighters such as Under Night In-Birth and Persona 4 Arena; or comparing its Vita version to the similarly styled BlazBlue, Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax’s graphics seem lacking, with rough edges and a bit less detail.

Rough Edges, Soft Touches

Fighting Climax‘s stages made me smile. I recognized several right away as being direct imports from Dengeki and Sega properties. Gamers of practically all ages will recognize the Sonic hat-tip, while I, being an inappropriately huge Valkyria Chronicles fan, squealed when I saw a bunch of that game’s signature tanks in the background.
I joined some online matches while overseas in the USA, and while lag inevitably showed up, it usually wasn’t bad enough to really hurt the play. It did seem very tied to what time of day I played, though, as prime time abroad might not be the best time to find a gaming partner in Japan. As well, it seems the PS3’s DBFC online community is a bit bigger than Vita’s, so if online battling is your primary goal with this, you might be best served by the PS3 version. Cross save is available among the two versions, but not cross play, so keep that in mind.
Online play brings the same blessings and curses that any fighter experiences:quitters and overpowered characters. If I picked anyone from Sword Art Online, people seemed likely to bail out right after character selection; and I must admit, the temptation was there for me, too. That guy just tears through people.

Uphill Battles

But online only exposes a little bit of the balance struggle. While Kirito seems overpowered, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Your performance in a fight will of course depend on your skills, but be disproportionately tied to your character choice as well. Some characters have far fewer combos, shorter combos, and weaker one-shot strikes to boot, compared to the rest of the cast.

A lot of times, in a fighter, you’ll have a character or two with unconventional mechanics or controls, but they have some kind of strength to balance out their disadvantages, yet that’s not the case with Fighting Climax. The sucky characters just suck and the super characters are just that damn good, and there’s not much you as the player can do about it.

Support characters exacerbate this problem. Much like the playable cast, support characters come as a mixed bag of the great, the decent, and the pure crap. The game’s biggest selling point is that people might want to play a game as these characters from their favorite anime and manga, yet DBFC makes doing so not very rewarding with its poor balance.
The expected modes are all there: Arcade, time attack, survival, training, online modes — the things you’ve come to expect in a fighter. A new addition within Story Mode is the Dream Duel, which adds deeper connections and rivalries between the characters — a definite plus for fans of the source material.
Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax doesn’t do much as a fighting game, but does manage to be a pleasing bit of fan service. Kind of like .hack//Versus, if you like the characters already, I’d reckon that you’ll find the fighting game suitable. Not a fan of any of these people? Then the fighting probably won’t make you into one. For me, knowing some of these characters but not all of them, DBFC was a mixed bag. The meat of the game was accessible and fun, but interest waned quickly due its small combo variety and lack of balance.

Review provided by Available for PS Vita and PS3. Vita version reviewed. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.


(Post-review notes for importers. Read the PSLS guide to importing here.)

The game’s menus are almost completely bilingual, with large English print right there for you.  No need to worry about this one. Going deeper inside the menus, there are a few things only in Japanese, but these can easily be solved with good old trial and error. You will at least know the type of sub-menu you’re in, which will help.

Dialogue is narrated and written. No furigana for novices, so if the combination of kanji and voice work can’t keep you afloat, be warned that the story will go over your head. As far as the main gameplay goes, it’s a fighter and you won’t need much explanation. A Western release has not been announced.

  • Some moves are absolutely hilarious
  • All that anime screaming and shit
  • Valkyria Chronicles characters
  • My inner fan is properly serviced
  • Online play pretty stable
  • Smooth controls
  • Accessible to newer gamers
  • Dream Duel mode
  • Cast not huge
  • Left me wishing some of those support characters were actually playable
  • Meh graphics
  • Not very well balanced
  • Move variety runs thin