May 20, 2011

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Review: Arcana Heart 3

Review: Arcana Heart 3

Fighting games are making a coming back and doing it in style. In the past few years, we have seen a new Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Blazblue, and even the fabled Marvel vs Capcom 3. Amongst the huge titles, the genre has also seen recent releases of other smaller, different titles. The anime-styled 2-D fighter Arcana Heart is one of these. While the franchise has had limited success, unexpectedly, several sequels were made. No fighting fans finally have a version for current-generation consoles.  However, now that the market is larger and gamers have more options, will Arcana Heart 3 dazzle or disappoint?

When you play a lot of games like me (100+ on the PS3 alone), you get sick of playing tutorials. How many times can you be told L1 is zoom and R1 is shoot? Arcana Heart 3 does not have a tutorial, but it should have one. There is nothing included that tells you or explains how the game even works. The game does have a training mode, but it is strictly to mess with the game’s elements on your own time. Unlike the big games this generation, there is no challenge mode. There are no trials, mastery of moves, or anything else of the sort. This can be annoying, since gaining deeper understanding of the characters is something you master on your own. Unless you really enjoy the game, you will most likely quit after getting your ass handed to you.  The fact that the controls aren’t as responsive as they could be doesn’t help matters. For example, take the Arcanas, spirits that help you in combat. The Arcanas are mapped to R1, but pushing R1 appears to be hit and miss, with the game failing to summon them even when I successfully pressed the button. This can be very annoying when you see several enemies blow you away with no fault of your own.

Arcana Heart 3 looks very cheap. The actual menu looks very poorly done and unpolished for a Japanese title which costs around $80. The mode selection is rather minimal, too, including just your standard modes: arcade, score attack, training, and versus. Thankfully, the game has heavy content in the areas that matter.

The game offers a lot of options to keep you playing. including 23 fighters and 23 Arcanas. Every character has their own little style, and none of them really overlap. The differences are so vast that you should be able to find a character that fits your play style. Each Arcana adds a bit of depth to the fighter as well if you can get them working. While the controls are very similar to the bigger-name games, the game would still benefit from a better explanation of how to use them.

In Arcade mode, you are tasked with saving the world, and are offered dialogue for each character, adding a greater sense of who each character is in the process. As far as the gameplay goes, though, if you aren’t skilled, even the easier difficulties can be bothersome. The later fighters usually are very cheap and spam strong skills, with some characters having skills that can kill you in two to three hits. The end boss can also be annoying, as he will send his birds to attack you or attack with his 30%+ special skill. He is not that hard to beat if you know what you are doing. If you are more of a masher, the game offers a simple mode that tries to help you out. Like a lot of fighting games that feature simple mode, it gives you a so-so choice of attacks.

Score attack mode, like several other elements of the game, could also use a tune-up. Anyone who is versed in score attack modes knows there is always that one insanely powerful enemy. Arcana Heart 3 lets you retry endlessly, which makes it easier, but the final enemy here is way too broken. Nearly endless spamming, regenerating life, insane range, and insane speed are not that fun, and only serve to make the game frustrating.

Arcana Heart 3 could have been better. The characters are solid, but not having a tutorial or help function can be bothersome, not to mention issues with AI balancing. The lack of English voice acting may also turn some off. While this is a budget title, fighting fans have other choices they may prefer to spend their money on.

Arcana Heart 3
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3 (Reviewed)
Genre: Fighting
Release Date: 04/19/2011
Developer: Examu
Publisher: Aksys Games
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
MSRP: $29.99