|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Arc Systems||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Aksys Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 16, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The fights also feature some RPG-style gimmicks. Watson (the rabbit who presides over Bambi-land), but no other character, can "level up" during the fights. The noble-sounding, orchestrated music could easily have worked in a Final Fantasy game. Each round is a "chapter."
Also, in addition to the traditional fighting-game energy bars, Battle Fantasia assigns a total number of "hit points" to each character; with every blow, a number pops out indicating how much damage was dealt. The addition is both distracting and useless, as the energy bar is much better than the hit-point count at letting you know how the match is going. If both bars are halfway full, you're in an even fight, and if you're down to a quarter of your bar but your opponent still has half, you're losing, even if you have more "hit points" left than he does. Also, it makes the game feel uneven, even though, in fact, the characters are well-balanced. Some fighters have more than double the HP of others, but that's because other deficiencies (speed, etc.) make up for it.
One would think that Story Mode, the heart of Battle Fantasia's console additions, would be the perfect place to showcase role-playing influences. It's not hard to imagine a classic RPG where an enemy encounter leads to a fighting match rather than a turn-based battle. Unfortunately, in Battle Fantasia this is not the case. Rather, the story mode is little more than a re-tread of the arcade mode, with a skippable storyline that strings together a series of one-round matches for each character. (The stories usually involve fighting an evil force called the Scion of Ill Presage, though some characters do so directly while others take a more roundabout, lighthearted route.) The mode doesn't even add variety the way the Soul Calibur games do, by putting interesting restrictions (say, throws only) on some of the fights. The tale is narrated in Japanese with English subtitles, with embarrassingly simple animations of the characters talking against different backgrounds.
There is a silver lining, though, in that story mode will provide hardcore players with lots of replayability. As un-engrossing as the plot may be, it branches in different directions depending on whether you win or lose battles, and whether you meet certain conditions during the battles. You'll have to play through each story multiple times to reach 100 percent completion. (Depending on how many attempts each battle takes, each journey through the game takes about a half-hour to an hour.) Still not enough? Ramp up the difficulty and do it again, or head online.
In other words, once Battle Fantasia grabs hold of a player, there's no telling how many hours of enjoyment it's good for. However, given that fighting fans can already spend full price to get Soul Calibur IV, download classic brawlers for dirt cheap, and even buy compilation discs loaded with old-school punch-and-kick action, this title doesn't quite have what it takes to justify its price tag.
CCC Freelance Writer