Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is an anime fighter to its core, and not just because of it's conglomeration of Japanese media background. Besides the fact that Fighting Climax's stages and characters are made up of properties ranging from Dengeki Bunko's various Manga/Anime franchises to representations from some of SEGA's most easily recognizable franchises (at least in Japan, anyway) the title embraces the "anime fighter" mantra of double-jumps, air-dashes, and an emphasis on speed to the letter.[caption id="attachment_58877" align="alignright" width="300"] Although the majority of the characters in Fighting Climax are based off of properties from the Dengeki Bunko universe, stages as well as a few characters are ripped straight from popular SEGA franchises, such as Virtua Fighter and Valkyria Chronicles.[/caption]
If you're unfamiliar with this category of fighting games, Fighting Climax is probably one of the simplest anime fighters out there. Out of all the current fighters on the market, Dengeki Bunko not only has one of the smallest rosters, but also, for better or worse, the easiest inputs to memorize. A standard attack combo can be chained by using the 3 primary attack buttons in the right order, or a player can simply mash the square button a few times to dish out potentially the same combo. Beyond that, although each character tends to have their own unique skills, most characters share the same exact inputs required to activate their skills, including for each character's 3 separate "counter" attacks.
One of the more unique features that Dengeki Bunko possesses is the focus on building up meter to deploy special attacks. You can save up to 5 bars of special to use, and some skills can be turned into a miniature special attack by expending a portion of the meter. Even without the addition of the "power up" mechanic—where pressing a certain button when the "power up" symbol is charged—meter would be easy to raise, but the addition of the power up mode allows players to quickly gain meter if they truly need it. Finally, the addition of limited special moves dedicated to one button press allows players to try to deal massive damage to turn the tides. Alongside this, the other anomaly is the counter system—attacks that can be used to powerhouse through an enemy's attack, taking damage while doling it out yourself.
As far as Fighting Climax's fighting system is concerned, battles quickly become intense and flashy, as the game is balanced around the idea of throwing out at least some sort of special move at any given time. Although the inputs allow the game to ease players into the combat, the addition of the other features of the fighting system, including counters and various grabs, means that below the surface there is a decent amount of depth to be found. The fact that any character can choose any of the 20+ support characters to use for their support attacks means that the types of players that you might face online could have a myriad of different strategies at their disposal.
When it comes to the game's presentation, no expenses seem to have been spared. Stages look and feel energetic, even if none of them affect the gameplay to any extent, and the soundtrack for the title is enjoyable, catchy, and wholly appropriate for the stages that the fights take place on. The novelty of having a bunch of Manga characters fighting on primarily SEGA themed battlegrounds leads to some interesting battle scenarios—something that the game's 2 Arcade modes use to their advantage.[caption id="attachment_58878" align="alignleft" width="300"] Special Attacks are noticeably flashy - and thanks to the core focus on building up meter, chances are you'll be seeing a LOT of them over time.[/caption]
Despite all the hype that SEGA PR attempted to instill in me regarding the Dream Duel mode (and the default Arcade mode, to a lesser extent) most of the text between the fights in these modes felt shallow at best and shoe-horned at worst. The idea of having a story behind these properties coming together to duke it out isn't inherently a bad one, but it feels like the game decided to try the most generic "fan-service" that it could muster, without attempting any sort of meaningful crossover between the characters. Yes, there is specific text for every possible character combination—and that certainly took a lot of work!—but both modes leave a lot to be desired. I ended up playing through both modes 2 times on two separate characters in a hope that perhaps the first character I played through wasn't representative of the overall experience, but I ended up playing through the 3 challenge modes instead in the long run.
As far as additional modes are concerned, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is rather standard. You unlock items in a gallery—consisting of artwork and music tracks, primarily—and you have a small selection of bonus modes. You've got time attack, score attack, and a slightly less standardized survival mode, but unlike competitors in the genre, like BlazBlue, the selection of special modes and distractions seems rather shallow. To Dengeki Bunko's benefit, however, the title is being sold at a $30 MSRP, instead of the standard $40 for Vita or $60 for PS3. Perhaps the one truly glaring omission is a lack of a tutorial, though at least the digital manual does a decent job of explaining the title's mechanics. As an aside, multiplayer play is about as standard as it comes. Players make lobbies, and you can participate in both regular and ranked play; there is no cross-play support between platforms, so unless you don't own a PS3, it might be recommended to go for the PS3 release, that being the case.
Fighting Climax likely won't cause any sort of shake-up to occur within the FGC or competitve play in general, but it doesn't really need to. It's a good fighting game with a set of somewhat unique mechanics, at a budget price. If you're new to the genre, and perhaps looking for a title that might be a bit flashier than the competition, this might be it. Otherwise, it's a solid recommendation for players that are familiar with the properties on show, even if they might not have been used to the best of their ability.
This title was reviewed using a digital review copy provided by the publisher. Both versions were tested.
Fighting Climax likely won't cause any sort of shake-up to occur within the FGC or competitve play in general, but it doesn't really need to. It's a good fighting game with a set of somewhat unique mechanics at a budget price.