Release Date: 28 July 2016
Developer: Studio Saizensen
The ‘Shining’ series is something that you’ve probably heard of. It started with Shining in the Darkness back in 1991 on the Sega Mega Drive and has since spawned 33 games. It’s like Final Fantasy, a classic Japanese RPG with more games than you can really imagine that don’t have too much to do with each other for the most part. Whilst you’ve probably heard of it, chances are you’ve never played it; they’ve never been a big hit in the west but they’re huge in Japan.
Blade Arcus From Shining: Battle Arena is a 2D fighting game based on characters from two of the PSP entries to the series, Shining Blade and Shining Ark. Blade Arcus was originally released in Japanese arcades in November 2014 and then late last year onto the PS3 and PS4. It’s been quite the road to PC but along the way it’s picked up a myriad of updates including new characters and quality of life improvements.
There is a story, something about collecting these seven balls that can grant your heart’s desire and that you must fight the people who posses them to get them all (they don’t quite call them dragon balls but it’s close). Each character has their own reason for doing it which results in a series of battles, all very standard; also, nobody really cares. The cast has everybody from the generic anime list: the ditsy girl, the young boy who wants to get stronger, the master martial artist all about honour, and the slightly evil dandy who wants to control the world.
The game uses a CGI anime style that I don’t particularly like. The characters are 3D models that are projected in such a way that makes them look 2D. I have no doubt it makes animating them far easier and they don’t by any means look too bad but it’s just not a patch on what can be achieved. The animation is fluid and responsive, the characters are colourful and detailed and even the backgrounds whilst somewhat uninspired are pretty nice.
The combat is simple but does offer decent depth. Each character feels different though their move sets are limited to a handful of abilities that are mostly just changes in the range of the two key attacks. I also found the super moves somewhat difficult to pull off though that is more likely my fault than the game’s. However, the campaign is easy; I had to play on Very Hard to find challenge and I’m really not that good of a fighting game player.
As I mentioned before in my review of Koihime Enbu I’m a fan of Japanese fighters and have played lots of them over the years. Ultimately Blade Arcus sits somewhere between pretty good and perfectly competent. It is by all accounts a decent fighting game that’s enjoyable but it does nothing to stand out or excel. If you like the ‘Shining’ series then it’s worth picking up but otherwise there are better, cheaper choices out there.