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Jahanzeb Khan
14 May, 2009

Battle Fantasia Review

360 Review | A poor man's Street Fighter IV?
Battle Fantasia is a game by Arc System Works, the very same team behind the Guilty Gear series. Battle Fantasia was released ages before console version of Street Fighter IV in all other territories but here we get the game roughly two months later. With Street Fighter IV being all the rage these days, is Battle Fantasia still worth checking out?

Battle Fantasia plays a lot like Street Fighter IV in the sense that it is a fun and accessible fighting game that does not drown players in a sea of complex techniques and mechanics. It’s the kind of game that can appeal to both hardcore and casual fans of the genre, as the learning curve isn’t nearly as steep as the one featured in the immensely deep and layered Guilty Gear games and other hardcore 2D fighting games.

Battle Fantasia is much easier to play than your usual 2D fighting game, each character comes with a few moves and the offensive and defensive techniques are not the kind that will take weeks to master. The game is quite fun to play courtesy of tight and responsive 2D combat mechanics and easy to pull off moves. However, as it was in the case of Street Fighter IV the standard Xbox 360 pad is not the controller to use for this game. Each character in the game comes with a few special moves as well as powerful ultra-special moves that make use of a super gauge. Characters also use standard fighting game techniques such as throws, escapes, strikes, recoveries and some useful mobility techniques.

The game is as user friendly as it looks.

The game is as user friendly as it looks.
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Battle Fantasia has two interesting combat features worth noting. The first feature worth looking into is the ‘Gachi’ system. This is basically a modified version of Street Fighter III’s parry system where players will have to press the Gachi button in time with the opponent’s attack in order to parry it. Thankfully for new comers, the Gachi system is far more forgiving than Street Fighter III’s parry system and there is actually more to it. Depending on where the attack is coming from, players can press the Gachi button and the appropriate direction button in time with the incoming attack to perform a useful counter attack. This serves as a perfect set up for a juggle or ultra-special move.

The other interesting feature is the ‘Heat Up’ mode. A Heat Up is triggered by the press of a button and it utilizes the super gauge. This basically powers up a character for a short time and even grants some characters additional special moves and techniques. All in all, Battle Fantasia features a solid and enjoyable fighting system that is designed to be user friendly but still has reasonable depth for fans of the genre. While it does not feel nearly as deep, polished and complete as what we have seen in Street Fighter IV, it still has some interesting ideas that make it stand out.

What really makes Battle Fantasia stand out from other fighting games is that the game looks and feels like a Japanese RPG (JRPG), the way the game is presented and everything from the menus, to the soundtrack, art style and character designs, all have a very strong JRPG vibe to them. What’s even more interesting is that the core gameplay itself incorporates a few JRPG elements.

This pirate is on fire.

This pirate is on fire.
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While most fighting games aim for that perfect balance, where victory or defeat comes down to a player’s gaming skills, Battle Fantasia tries something a little different. Each character is distinct not just in terms of the characteristics of speed, strength and durability but also in terms of HP levels. Larger/stronger characters like Death Bringer and Donvalve have high HP levels but are extremely slow and have very limited moves and combo possibilities, while characters like Watson and Coyori have very low HP levels but their agility and variety of moves and combos makes up for it. Purists will surely cry “balancing issues” and for the most part that does hold true. However, the developers still deserve some kudos for trying to make characters feel genuinely distinct and it actually makes bouts more believable as clearly a frail and young princess cannot match up to a massive dark knight in terms of HP level.

Speaking of characters, the game has a small cast of only a dozen characters but in this case the quality more than makes up for the small quantity. The character designs are as unorthodox and unusual as those seen in the Guilty Gear games but the tone of this game is far more colourful and uplifting, unlike the dark and edgy Guilty Gear. The character designs and the overall art style of the game is very stylish, colourful and charming thanks to the heavy JRPG influence and will likely impress anyone who enjoys playing eastern fighting games and RPGs.

While the graphics of Battle Fantasia don’t hold a candle to what we have already seen in Street Fighter IV, it still has its own distinct style and charm. The game features 2.5D graphics, though while Street Fighter IV looks very 3D, Battle Fantasia ends up looking like a beautiful high resolution 2D game, as the characters look and animate as they would in 2D but they pop out like 3D objects. Overall, it is a bright, colourful and vibrant looking game with plenty of stellar visuals and animations. The RPG quality soundtrack is surprisingly good and is not something you would replace with custom tracks. A wonderfully orchestrated symphonic score that is both epic and uplifting.

The overall style of this game is very colourful and uplifting.

The overall style of this game is very colourful and uplifting.
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When it comes to modes of play, the game comes with the standard set of fighting game modes including an online battle mode. The story mode here is more fleshed out than what we have seen in most fighting games and it has enough content and re-playability to keep players busy. The only thing that Battle Fantasia does wrong is that it’s a little too late to the party here in Australia. Had it come out over 6 months before the release of Street Fighter IV like it did in all other regions, we would have been a lot more excited and impressed.

While Street Fighter IV is currently THE fighting game to the play, Battle Fantasia is still an enjoyable game that succeeds at providing a fresh fighting experience thanks to its interesting graphics and JRPG elements. As an overall package Street Fighter IV is clearly the better game but if you are a die hard fighting fan who has enough room for another solid fighting game, then Battle Fantasia is certainly worth checking out.
The Score
Even with Street Fighter IV currently being the best fighting game in the market, Battle Fantasia is still a solid fighting game that has some interesting Japanese RPG elements as well as fantastic visuals and art. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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10 Comments
4 years ago
I've been checking out this game quite a bit, but I never took the opportunity to import the PS3 version. Just by looking at the gameplay-style, this game looks like its far more suited for my tastes than SF4. However, with BlazBlue and KOFXII coming out soon, I don't think I can make room for another fighter to consistently play. I'm already tired of SF4 and I'm dropping it. My main fighters will be Fate/Unlimited Codes, BlazBlue, and KOFXII.
4 years ago
Don't agree with the 'solid fighting' part. It's so cheap, there's not much substance to it at all. The RPG features are next to nothing too. I played the import a while back and wouldn't have given it more than 6/10.
4 years ago
Cheers for the review. I've seen this game cheap in the stores here (USA) and it has sparked my interest, unfortunately I can't pick it up as it is region locked. Every review I've read summerises the game in the same fashion as this one; a decent fighter, ok graphics, cutesy, but not as good as others on the market. I wonder what it will retail for, as I'll pick it up if its cheap or when it is in the bargain bin.
4 years ago
I went looking for this game the past 2 days to no avail here in Melbourne. Nada. Is there any word if it got delayed or cancelled?
4 years ago
StompBrother wrote
I went looking for this game the past 2 days to no avail here in Melbourne. Nada. Is there any word if it got delayed or cancelled?
It has indeed been delayed (again). No word yet on what's happening. icon_sad.gif
4 years ago
I'll buy this when it hits the bargin bins.
4 years ago
I have the Japanese version for 360, can't say Im a fan of it though.
4 years ago
I don't think this game is out in Australia yet.

My local JB hifi and EB Games (in fact EB Games told me it's been cancelled) don't have release dates now.

I think it usually has to be released before it hits the bargain bins first, and seeing how old this game is already that's going to be some wait.
4 years ago
EB Games and GAME have both told me it's Disco and aren't stocking it as of yet countrywide. JB just doesn't have it.

Hmmm... >_<
4 years ago
Strange, maybe the distributor fell thru?
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  4/06/2009 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  All Interactive Entertainment
Genre:
  Fighting
Year Made:
  2008

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