Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax (PS Vita) Revisited

Developed by French Bread and Ecole, Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax is a 2D fighting crossover title between SEGA and ASCII Media Works made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Dengeki Bunko imprint. The roster features 12 playable characters and 18 assist characters from 22 light novels.

The game features a variety of different modes to play in, such as network mode, score attack, survival, and the brand new Dream Duel mode exclusive to the console versions. The game’s playable characters come from various Dengeki Bunko-published light novels, such as Shakugan no Shana, Sword Art Online, Oreimo, and Strike the Blood, while stages come from various SEGA games, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Valkyria Chronicles, and Phantasy Star Online 2.

When I was first approached to revisit this game, I had never heard of Dengeki Bunko and the only brand I was familiar with was Sword Art Online. I naturally chose Kirito (the main protagonist in SAO), and an assist character to start my Arcade Story play through, as did the majority of other players according to trophy stats. The Arcade mode opens with some story chatter between a non-playable character named Denshin, your character, and an evil entity named Zetsumu. The story is pretty shallow, revolving around captured players from the Dengeki Bunko novels, but I didn’t pay much attention to it.

When the first match started, I was surprised by how colorful and detailed the character models and backgrounds were on the Vita’s screen. While the fighting mechanics are pretty standard for a typical 2D fighter, the special moves are where I had the most fun. Each character has three main attack buttons: weak, medium, and strong, along with a support button used for summoning a player’s assist character.

After an assist character is summoned, players need to rebuild their support gauge before they can summon them again. By building the Climax Gauge (super meter) with attacks (or just walking forward I found out), players can perform EX moves and Climax Arts. Players can also perform powerful Impact Skill attacks, use Blast Icons to perform Blast Attacks, and do Trump Card attacks (powerful, limited-use attacks which usually have invincibility and do a bunch of damage).

Luckily the Pause Menu has a Command List option that shows all of the characters special moves. I gladly welcomed this option, however the game creators did not take the time to change the button combinations to the PlayStation button icons, opting instead to leave the traditional arcade assignments in place (A, B, C, S). I had to go into another menu option to figure out how everything was mapped. That was a huge annoyance and distracted me from using my special moves for a quite a while until I learned the game better. It was a button mash-fest for the first few hours, however once I got the hang of things I was able to pull off some pretty sweet moves and combos.

As I mentioned earlier, I was surprised at how well the character models and backgrounds looked. Everything was crisp, clear, and characters stood out well against the backgrounds. I did not notice any slowdowns during play and the graphics showed no screen tearing or frame skipping. This game performed as if it was made as a Vita exclusive. It literally looked and played like an anime cartoon!

The only thing that bothered me were the one liners each character said before the match to each other. While the voice work was in Japanese, the English subtitles were often small and hard to read.

As with any 2D or 3D fighter, there is a lot of replay value here. There is a Training area with endless options to practice your skills and single matches available to hone them even more. Looking at the trophy list, there are many trophies that require you to execute 100 or more special moves which will keep the trophy hunters playing for many hours.

Review Copy Info: A digital copy of this game was provided to RGN for free by the publisher for the purpose of this review.