Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax — 3Q2020 issue

Anime fighter cre­ates clash of titans

If you’re a fight­ing game enthu­si­ast like myself, you’re happy to see the com­mu­nity enjoy­ing main­stream suc­cess now in the esports land­scape. For many years, it was rel­e­gated to a fringe activ­ity, some­thing only nerds with noth­ing else bet­ter to do and a lack of hygiene were known for enter­tain­ing. Now, it’s all over the place and there’s money to be earned. But this is now a professional-grade enter­prise and anime games are tak­ing cen­ter stage. One of the best? Dengeki Bunko: Fight­ing Climax.

The game series that I lov­ingly refer to as that “all-star anime fight­ing game” is a blast to play. You choose from 19 playable and 30 assist char­ac­ters from var­i­ous anime series who team up in duos to fight each other. Even if you’re mildly into anime, there are some well-known stars of the medium and some obscure names that will make you do a lit­tle research. For instance, your favorite edi­tor is an anime junkie and has seen or heard of most of the series with some stand­out selec­tions that she’s per­son­ally watched: Oreimo, Boo­giepop Phan­tom, The Devil is a Part-Timer and Toradora. There are oth­ers like Sword Art Online that are main­stream enough to draw in even the newest anime watcher.

So, how does it play? Much like you’d expect an anime game to play: Super floaty physics and off-the-wall attacks that feel like they do a ton of dam­age but prob­a­bly don’t in terms of fight­ing games. The game feels good once you start play­ing, and like most games of the genre, there are lev­els to the play sys­tem. You can come in on the ground floor of fight­ing game knowl­edge and be able to play and then there’s com­pet­i­tive fight­ing game-level of play that requires inti­mate knowl­edge of the game’s sys­tems. That range serves the game well as a draw for mul­ti­ple groups and it’s a tes­ta­ment to Sega’s devel­op­ment prowess.

The voice act­ing, a major part of a project like this, must be top notch and it is. Because Sega gar­nered most of the ani­ma­tions’ voice actors, there’s a high level of con­sis­tency and gloss over the game’s audio. The back­grounds are also faith­ful to the dif­fer­ent anime series, so expect to be wowed with the pro­duc­tion values.

Over­all, if you’re into anime enough to go to con­ven­tions reg­u­larly or just hav­ing a pass­ing inter­est, Dengeki Bunko: Fight­ing Cli­max is a good buy. Yes, it’s got that “super anime” feel to it, but there’s a solid engine and mechan­ics wrapped up in an extremely gor­geous pack­age that deserves to be played here. This fancy fan-service fighter is enough to make an otaku like myself sit up and take notice.

ChuChu Rocket! — 4Q2014 issue

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Gamefaqs.com

An epic cat and mouse game

Cats in rock­ets try­ing to kill mice. As well as being weird, the age-old con­cept of a cat–and-mouse game is sur­pris­ingly addic­tive. In the form of the Dreamcast’s ChuChu Rocket, the con­cept man­ages to jump the bar­rier of weird and branch into the realm of entertaining.

The game of cat-and-mouse is sim­ple: Lead mice to safety in your rocket with well-placed arrows while avoid­ing cats that other play­ers will send to hunt the mice. The more mice you have left alive at the end, the bet­ter. It’s not hard to get started once you have that basic under­stand­ing of the game, and it quickly becomes an addict­ing exer­cise of fran­tic fun to keep mice alive.

The fun thing about ChuChu Rocket is the sheer ran­dom­ness of every­thing hap­pen­ing on the play­ing field. There are so many fac­tors that can affect your mice total at the end of a round that it’s impos­si­ble to win by tal­ent at mov­ing rodents alone. One must con­sider the fact that only three arrows can be placed by a char­ac­ter at any given time. With level lay­out also taken into con­sid­er­a­tion, the idea that you can be in the lead for five sec­onds and that be enough to win is a real pos­si­bil­ity. Throw in the power-up aspect and con­stantly chang­ing con­di­tions of the match area and there is a real recipe here for dis­as­ter dis­guised as fun.

It’s a good thing that the game is so fun to play because the graph­ics and the music sure aren’t going to draw you in by them­selves. The game looks like a 1999 game, which isn’t to say it’s hor­ri­ble, but it isn’t pretty, either. The graph­ics date them­selves might­ily, but that’s not really any­thing to be ashamed of, since ChuChu Rocket doesn’t exactly need to get by on the qual­ity of the scenery. The music is noth­ing to write home about, and frankly, I played with it turned off for the major­ity of the time that I’ve owned the game. It really adds noth­ing to the over­all expe­ri­ence and after a short time, it becomes rather irri­tat­ing. But, like the graph­ics, it isn’t really what you came here for.

What you’re going to take away from ChuChu Rocket depends on what you’re look­ing for. In this day and age, 15 years after its orig­i­nal release, you can take a solid party game from this that’s a highly quirky title wor­thy of many replays or you can see a weird 15-year-old game about cats chas­ing mice with ques­tion­able game con­di­tions attached. Rat infes­ta­tion issues aside, ChuChu Rocket is a great rat race into nostalgia.