Reviewed on: PC
Also available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Developer: Arc System Works / DotEmu
Publisher: Arc System Works
There’s always a slight feeling of excitement that I get when I sit down to review a port of a game that had already seen a past release. I find myself wondering “what did they change” or “what sort of enhancements did they make?” When that happens, the most disappointing thing that can occur is when the answer winds up being “nothing at all.” The recent PC port of Battle Fantasia stands squarely in that zone, and while it’s not a bad game in the slightest, it’s still not doing anything to set itself apart from its peers. It’s a niche fighter through and through, and some of the technical missteps in this current iteration — as well as little things about the game itself — keep it from being a leader in its field.
Arc System Works’ Battle Fantasia was originally released in Japanese arcades in 2007, and was ported to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2008. ArcSys is most (in)famous for being the studio that gave us the Guilty Gear franchise, and this game marked a radical departure from the type of fighter they were known to produce — and would continue producing, seeing as how both the BlazBlue and Persona 4 Arena franchises came after Battle Fantasia. This means that the port on review today is of an eight year old game, and while it has been updated for better character balance, it hasn’t seen any updates in the mechanics department.
As such, the game feels incredibly tailored to a narrow niche in more ways than one. The steampunk-fantasy storybook art style doesn’t really do much to sell the game to people looking for a flashy fighter, but it is very charming in its own way. The soundtrack is simply background music with very little standout material, which is a shame, considering that the Guilty Gear soundtracks are unparalleled in the genre. The actual play mechanics are also geared more toward classic fighting game methodologies, and while this isn’t a bad thing, it does make for a slower and more methodical style of play. This can be seen as a major turnoff to players who prefer their games to be a little faster-paced.
The story mode, while extensive, is largely boring and inconsequential. There are other single player modes to bide your time with, but how much you’ll actually enjoy them directly correlates to how much you like playing the game by yourself. The online netcode leaves much to be desired, as there are very few players online, and the few-and-far-between online fights I played ranged in quality from annoyingly laggy to downright unplayable. There’s also no method to scope out an opponent’s potential connection quality, which is not something I can really file under “curiously absent” in 2015. There are also no enhancements for PC players who have the hardware muscle to render at higher resolutions or pack more detail into character models, as the game is locked at 720p with no real advantage over the seven year old console version this port is based on.
Overall, I look at this port, and I’m not asking “what did they change” or “what sort of enhancements did they make?” I’m simply left asking myself “why does this even exist?” There’s nothing new brought to the table, and what has been brought to the table is simply repackaged leftovers from eight years ago. There’s nothing worse than a niche game with massive problems, except for a boring niche game with massive problems. I cannot recommend Battle Fantasia to anyone except those who are extremely bored and have fifteen dollars to literally burn. I mean, if you’re dead-set on lighting fifteen American dollars on fire, then sure, put it to marginally better use and pick up Battle Fantasia on Steam. But only under that circumstance.
The review copy of this game was a digital code provided by the publisher.
Lazy, lacking, ultimately needless.