Aug 31, 2011

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Battle High San Bruno Review

Battle High San Bruno Review

The Indie Game Summer Uprising has begun and unless you already knew it was coming, it probably would have flown right underneath your radar.  It’s pretty easy for most gamers to dismiss indie games due to a lack of achievements and a ton of truly awful titles (massage games, avatar oddness, etc.).  That’s disappointing, because there are a ton of great indie games worth your time that can be bought for less then many avatar items nowadays.  Luckily, the indie developers have banded together and voted on eight games they’ve deemed worthy.  But are these indie games really worth your time?

Battle High San Bruno is the second title in the Summer Uprising lineup, and it’s pretty evident that its developers were influenced by classic 2D brawlers like Street Fighter II and King Of Fighters. As with those two games (and most fighting games in general), story takes a backseat to gameplay and is really just added to mix things up a bit.  Battle High San Bruno takes place in a high school with eight combatants, each armed with different elements.  There are minor backstories about betrayal and what not, but what takes center stage is the combat, and thankfully, Battle High delivers.  Each of the characters have different moves ranging from projectiles to grabs, and nearly everything you do results in you filling up your special meter.  The special meter is divided into three sections, and upon filling it entirely, you can unleash a super move that can take nearly half of your opponent’s health.  Alternately, a section of your special can be used for dashing in air or to cancel attacks, which is great for combos.  Fighting game fans should feel at home with the simple moves and see evidence of other fighters (like Ryu and Guile) in Battle High’s characters.

While nothing is particularly fresh in Battle High San Bruno, it’s amazing how polished everything feels.  This may be due to the fact that this game released over six months ago and has already had time to be updated.  I was really amazed at what the one-man studio Mattrified Games accomplished using XNA.  Aside from each character being unique, the animation is smooth and there’s a ton of bonuses.  Each character has their own story told through minor dialogue and text that would have fit in perfectly with the SNES and Genesis titles in their generation.  Also included is a stat tracker, training mode, challenges, and extracurriculars including a car smashing minigame, barrel tether-ball, and bash ball.  In fact, Battle High San Bruno has more content then a lot of fighters that released in that old generation!  Though its system may not be as deep as SFII, the combat is enjoyable enough and may shock you with how competent it really is.  Combos are easy enough to string together, along with special moves, and you’ll quickly begin engaging in heated matches with friends (locally only).  As much content as is included, it’s surprising that the game is only 80 Microsoft Points ($1)!

Some people may not instantly fall in love with Battle High San Bruno, and to be honest, I wouldn’t fault them for it.  The graphics are nicely animated, as is the hit detection, but the odd colors and characters may appear too cliched for others.  As competent as the fighting system is, I wouldn’t see purists taking this game too seriously in our generation or even the 16-bit era.  This isn’t to say that the combat isn’t fun or varied, just that it can only go so deep given its limitations.  Quite possibly one of the biggest gripes people may have is that the game feels too similar to fighting games of old.  It reminded me of my SNES days so much that I half-expected to hear the Street Fighter KO after beating each opponent.  It isn’t fair to compare Battle High to a game so highly held in regard, but comparisons are inevitable and will no doubt sway your opinion on whether you should download it or not.

If you’re even remotely interested in 2D fighters, Battle High San Bruno should be in your download queue.  At only $1, there really isn’t any reason people shouldn’t buy this well-put together title.  The animation is fluid, the combat is enjoyable, and there is a ton of content packed into this tiny package.  It may not stand up against 2D classics, but it’d be a shame to see this indie developer not get the credit he deserves.

Battle High San Bruno
Platform: Xbox Live Indie Games
Genre: Fighting
Release Date: 02/08/11
Developer: Mattrified Games
Community Ratings: Violence: 2/3 Sex: 2/3
MSRP: 80MSP ($1)