From Marvel vs. Capcom to PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, fighting games have been home to plenty of crossovers throughout the years. Combining some of the most iconic video game characters with our favorite superheroes, these titles have allowed players to live out scenarios that were once only possible in dreams. The latest fighting game crossover to hit PlayStation 3 and Vita is a bit of a strange one though, as it combines popular light novel protagonists and a few iconic SEGA characters.
Developed by Ecole Software, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax features all of your favorites from the Japanese magazine Dengeki Bunko. Not familiar with the name? Most gamers won’t be, which makes SEGA’s localization of the title a bit strange, but there are some recognizable properties within the game. These include the hit anime Sword Art Online, The Irregular at Magic High School and Black Bullet. If none of the series ring a bell, then this probably isn’t the fighting game for you.
Even if the aforementioned shows are your favorite, it would mean next to nothing if the actual gameplay wasn’t fun. Thankfully, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is a completely competent fighting experience. It won’t impress you with its depth like BlazBlue, or provide a stiff learning curve such as Virtua Fighter, but it’s very accessible. This was definitely the right call, as it allows for fans to see all the content they want without a huge barrier to entry.
While Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax only uses four buttons, it uses each of them in a pretty interesting way. Three buttons are dedicated to attacks of varying strengths, but the fourth button unleashes a special assist attack. These assists allow a secondary character, that is selected before a match, to temporarily come into the fight and unleash a quick ability. Thankfully, you can’t spam assist characters, as they are limited by a cooldown timer and cost a bar of the Climax Gauge to use.
The Climax Gauge is for all intents and purposes the same type of super meter that has been seen in most 2D fighting games. It is built up by either attacking the enemy, or taking damage. Once enough of the Climax Gauge has been filled, players can use it to unleash their special attacks. Most special attacks are very simple to input, as they are all quarter circle variants, which once again speaks to the accessibility of the title. This hurts the depth of the game, but it works for Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax. The intended audience isn’t just fighting game fans, but anime viewers as well.
Those viewers will be glad to know that like other crossover titles, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is filled with fan service. Not so much in the creepy way, thankfully, but there are a ton of references that only fans of the aforementioned series will get. The Arcade mode, for instance, features brief story sequences that mainly consist of different anime characters interacting with each other, which fans should definitely appreciate, even if it’s mostly fluff.
More fan service can be found in the form of unlockable artwork, icons and sound tests. Many famous Japanese voice actors reprise their roles as the characters in-game, and you can even unlock the stars’ digital signatures. To buy these items, players earn a virtual currency by completing modes with the roster of 12 characters. There is a lot of content to purchase, so diehard fans will likely spend a lot of time trying to get every piece of art.
Players will be checking out more than just Arcade mode to earn money, though, as Ecole Software has packed in a number of additional modes into the title. These include fighting game mainstays such as Score Attack, Time Attack, and Survival, which all boast online leaderboards. Rounding out the package is online play, offering up both ranked and player matches, which worked fine as I experienced minimal lag during matches.
You might be wondering why I’ve barely touched on the SEGA side of the crossover, and it’s due to the fact they’re essentially an afterthought. Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax was designed to celebrate Dengeki Bunko‘s 20th anniversary, and it does exactly that. SEGA fans will be glad to know that two characters from the Japanese publisher made the cut though, including Akira from Virtua Fighter, who appears in just about every title that isn’t a new Virtua Fighter game nowadays. Other than the stages, which includes a pretty cool Sonic the Hedgehog level, the SEGA presence is basically nonexistent.
While SEGA fans will be disappointed, Dengeki Bunko fans should be thrilled. If you enjoy several of the series that are featured, then Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is certainly worth playing. Ecole Software has done a great job in creating a game that’s a ton of fun to play, even if you’re unaccustomed to the genre.
This review is based on the PlayStation 3 and Vita versions, which we were provided with for review.
While not the best fighting title out there, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax offers up a completely competent experience that anime fans should enjoy.