Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax Review
Review code provided by publisher
The first thing to know about Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is that it’s a fighting game featuring anime characters from the Dengeki Bunko library. The first thing you need to know about my review is that I have never seen any of the animes these characters are from. For me, they’re all just characters in a fighting game. I have absolutely no idea if their comments are an interesting fit for their respective canon or if their movesets fit their characters well. All I can tell you is if this is a fighting game worth playing.
In that respect, Fighting Climax is...okay.
Back To Basics
2D fighters live and die on their controls and Fighting Climax takes an interesting approach. Instead of having the industry standard large movesets with complicated button combinations, Fighting Climax opts for a simple control scheme where the majority of moves can be accomplished by quarter circle, half circles, and double taps accompanied by an attack button. If you can throw a Hadouken with Ryu in Street Fighter, you can execute most moves in Fighting Climax.
This control style makes the game very easy to pick up and play and is very welcoming to newcomers of the fighting game genre. It also means you can play as whatever character you want since they share roughly the same inputs, though the moves themselves differ between characters. Quarter Circle Back + weak attack, for instance, will cause one character to charge across the screen while another character will go for a close range grab.
This control style makes the game very easy to pick up and play and is very welcoming to newcomers of the fighting game genre.
While Fighting Climax is easy to play, it’s also a little too easy to master. It’s easy to go into autopilot and run the same basic combos again and again without ever chaining them together or really finding interesting ways to combine them. For me, I was able to beat a few opponents simply by swinging the joystick around and mashing some buttons, creating a flurry of offense that was hard to beat. I’ll admit that maybe the strategy goes deeper than that, but the game really doesn’t give you any hints on what those strategies might be. While there is a training mode, there isn’t any sort of challenge mode designed to teach you more advanced techniques like in Street Fighter IV or Guilty Gear Xrd. A similar mode being absent in Fighting Climax feels like a huge oversight and makes me feel like there isn’t much past what I learned in the first couple of hours.
All I Have To Do Is Dream
Other than the aforementioned training mode, Fighting Climax includes a basic Versus mode and three challenge modes along with two main single player modes: Story Mode and Dream Duel. The Story Mode in Fighting Climax is terrible. It casts your chosen fighter as the “Final Envoy of Hope” summoned by the fairy Denshin to battle the evil Zetsumu to save everyone’s dreams. It’s nothing more than a gauntlet run against all the other fighters followed by a boss character from one of two Sega franchises.
The story doesn’t change between characters either, so prepare to get sick of the word “dreams.”
The story feels like a bizarre Sega fanfiction, with Denshin being a personified Dreamcast (apparently the product of a Japanese only collaboration called “Sega Hard Girls”) trying to save everyone’s dreams. It’s a chore to go through, having to hear tired tropes from an antagonist who belts out lines about dreams being the cause of misery and good guys saying dreams are good and dreams dreams dreams. The story doesn’t change between characters either, so prepare to get sick of the word “dreams.” It’s also weird to see all the other fighters just being different forms of Zetsumu (he’s “consumed” them all, thus why you’re the Final Envoy of Hope) instead of having a mind of their own. You’d think a crossover game like this would want as much character interaction as they can since most people are getting this game for the roster, but taking away everyone’s personalities seems counterintuitive to the spirit of the game.
Luckily, developer ASCII MEDIA WORKS has created an entire mode for the console versions called Dream Duel. Every fighter other than the two unlockable characters have five battles they can do in Dream Duel that all have a storyboard cutscene of a conversation between the fighters before each fight. This definitely is the mode for fans of the various manga and anime properties on display as there’s a lot of in-jokes and references that only people familiar with the characters will get. Of course they all flew right over my head, but I can appreciate that someone somewhere is going to love to hear a conversation about melon bread or forcefully adopting little sisters.
A Joy To Behold
The presentation on the whole is fantastic, with character sprites that are both well drawn and well animated and a musical score that remixes classic Sega music to help give every fight a shot of energy.
Normally the storyboard cutout cutscene style that Fighting Climax offers irritates me, but the way the game presents them make them feel more alive and expressive than in some full motion scenes in other games. The presentation on the whole is fantastic, with character sprites that are both well drawn and well animated and a musical score that remixes classic Sega music to help give every fight a shot of energy. I found myself fighting on the NiGHTS into Dreams inspired level over and over again just to hear the music. The voice performances are also top notch too, giving a level of personality to their characters that help differentiate them even when you can’t understand them. There’s even a neat feature where when you unlock a character’s sound test, you can find a voice track from the character’s voice actor talking about their experience working on the game. In a day and age where we hear so much about studio employees getting no respect, it’s cool to see snippets like those tucked away as an unlockable.
While there was clearly a level of passion put into this game to make it a great crossover experience, the actual fighting in Fighting Climax doesn’t really hold up over long stretches. Fighting game fans will probably move on after a month or so and fans of the various properties may not last much longer after seeing all the character interactions the Dream Duel mode has to offer. Fans of the characters may find enough enjoyment to justify the cheaper than usual $40 dollar price tag, but those simply looking for a new fighting game to play may want to wait for a sale before seeing if this title is for you.