The latest 2D fighter I’ve been playing is Arcana Heart, developed by Examu and released by Atlus. At first glance, this game appears totally ridiculous. The entire cast of 11 characters is made up of 10-14 year old girls. The menus are all pink, and the music is extremely bouncy. This is not the type of game I would typically buy, or even pick up at the store. However, look beneath the strange presentation and you’ll find an excellent fighting game. In addition to the 11 characters, there are 11 “Arcana” that the characters team up with before the battle begins. These Arcana provide special moves, and basically act as an assist for the character. The game is much like all the other 2D fighters you’ve played in move-list category. There is a short set of moves for each character, and a more brief set for the Arcana. If you’re getting nailed by a combo, you can use what’s called the “arcana force” (mash all attack buttons), and you will end the enemy’s combo, and enjoy a special benefit of some sort, depending on what arcana you’re using. For example, the time arcana’s effect is that the clock stops while it’s user is using arcana force. You could use that to force a time-out and win by default. You can only use it once, though, and it’ll drain your super meter. There are a lot of different and fun strategies to be put into effect with this game, especially considering the possible 121 combinations of characters and Arcana!
Other than the Arcana providing variety to the characters, I really love the game’s mechanics. You’ll have 3 attack buttons, called 1 2 and 3, and a fourth button used to either use what’s called a “homing cancel”, or to use most of your arcana’s moves. If you just hit the Arcana button while the enemy is far away, your character will dash towards the enemy. If you hit the button while your character is performing a move, the animation for the move will stop. You can avoid being punished after a miss, or cut an animation short to attain a normally impossible combo. Here’s where it gets really good. If you hit the Arcana button and the back button while blocking, your character will come out of block-stun, perform a short backdash, and be invulnerable throughout. This means you don’t have to worry about being hopelessly locked down in a corner, and your opponent must choose his or her attack much more carefully. Hitting the Arcana button and hitting forward while blocking sends your character out of block-stun and into the opponent with a fiery shield in front of them. It leaves you vulnerable, but it’s a very aggressive way to come back at an attacker. If none of that made sense, this game basically has a way around all of the things that make other fighters tedious and boring.
Basically, whatever this game lacks is made up for by a really deep and addicting game play experience. This is what got me. After picking this game up for the first time, I got so sucked into it that hours went by before I realized it.
If you’re looking for a great 2D fighter, or just something different, this game won’t disappoint.