First arriving in arcades in 2007, Battle Fantasia has now been spruced up and brought to the PC market. The last time we played the game was back on the 360 a good few years ago so it seems a surprise that Arc Systems have decided to revive it so many years later. There are some improved visuals and other minor tweaks but this is really the same game as before just now available to a new audience.
The thing that sets Battle Fantasia apart from other games in the genre is its visual style. The game has a more comic book look than its stable mates such as Gulity Gear and Street Fighter. It’s reminiscent of games such as Dark Cloud and certainly creates a colourful and imaginative world. The backgrounds are especially good with lots of moving elements and the character designs aren’t too shabby either with a host of unique looking fighters. To accompany the visuals is an epic sound track and voice over. It brings to mind Soul Calibur and certainly sets you up on an epic fantasy adventure.
While the look and feel of the game are refreshing and very enjoyable they can’t quite mask the fact that the actual fighting is somewhat generic. The 3D models moving along a 2D plane struggle to create any real sense of speed or flow and matches can appear sluggish and somewhat predictable.
The systems at work aren’t particular deep or inspiring either. Aside from the ‘Heat Up’ mechanic (where you put your character into a sort of super mode), there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before (and most of the time a lot better). The characters themselves do redeem the experience somewhat as they are a little different but bouts lack the intensity you would expect more often than not. Currently the game is also suffering from real network problems with lag and disconnections an all too regular occurrence.
The single player options are what we have come to expect from fighting games now. You have the standard arcade, training and survival modes and a story mode which further develops each characters adventure. Aside from a few extra lovely looking comic scenes this doesn’t really offer much different to the main arcade mode though but is an enjoyable way to experience the lore of the world.
Despite the games faults there is something endearing about it. The art style and presentation are of such a high standard that we found ourselves sticking with it for far longer than we probably would have done otherwise. There are little things like characters having hit points instead of just the generic energy bar and the epic sounding voiceover that show that thought has gone into trying to make something that’s stands out in a crowded market.
Overall, if you love fighting games then there is some fun to be had with this due to the fact it does a few things a little differently and has a unique look to it. We didn’t find it particularly deep or exciting over a long period of time but certainly dipped in for short bursts to experience the fantasy atmosphere that it whips up. It’s certainly not a bad game and there is so much potential here that a sequel would be welcome, but at the minute it’s hard to see it being played for long when there are so many alternatives already available. The fact the net code is currently in a real mess certainly won’t help it either.