By Josh Speer / July 21st, 2015
|Title||Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm|
|Developer||Yatagarasu Dev Team|
|Release Date||July 7th, 2015|
You may not know this about me, but I am a child of the Street Fighter generation. Growing up, that was my go-to fighting game for several years. Though I never became an expert at the series, I got pretty good at Hadoken and Shoryuken. I just never became a combo master. Which brings us to Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm. Funded on IndieGoGo and developed by industry veterans of the SNK and King of Fighters series, it finally released on Steam this month, courtesy of Nyu Media. When I saw the images for the game, I instantly could see the influences, and I got hyped to try the game out myself. Now that I’ve had a chance to take it for a spin, is Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm a new fighting game classic, or is it held back by the classic series it takes inspiration from?
Right off the bat, playing Yatagarasu made me feel like I was standing before an arcade cabinet of yore. It is all brought together with colorful and detailed pixelated characters who knock the stuffing out of each other. Speaking of which, the game currently provides a roster of 11 different characters, ranging from sword wielding femme fatales to boxing champs to fireball spewing ninja. Despite its small size, the roster does manage to present a diverse range of personalities and playstyles, so no two felt exactly the same. My personal favorites were Hinukan Kou, a fast and furious fireball wielding Ryu type character; Aja, a dangerous and beautiful sword wielding woman; and Jet, a boxing champ who never stops pummeling his foes. That isn’t to say the other characters were bad, but many had overly complex button inputs that I typically avoid. I’m not a Zangief player, so I leave the multiple circles and half circles to others, same with characters who had lots of charge moves.
Fortunately, despite the fact Yatagarasu is available solely on Steam, it does support full controller functionality. This is a very good thing, since the game is fast and furious, and requires fluent button pressing to play well. I personally played the game using my Xbox 360 controller, and had no issues. The game features 3 attack buttons, 2 reserved for kicks, interestingly enough, and one for punches. Anybody familiar with Street Fighter will pick up the controls very quickly, as the standard quarter circle forward and back triggers the vast majority of Deadly Arts moves, while doing it twice in succession triggers the Assassin’s Arts (the games equivalent for Super Attacks). There is also something called Reinforcements, which you select before battle. There are two per character, and they multiply the damage done by respective Assassin’s Arts by 120 percent.
One thing I did find curious is how some characters have a wide range of special attacks, while some only have a couple. Granted, characters can still do standard running and jumping, punch and kick attacks, as well as throws, but I guess I have come to expect a giant list of moves per character from other fighting games. On the plus side, the small overall movesets do force you to learn to anticipate opponent attacks and combo and counter efficiently. On the negative side, if the AI manages to overpower you, you’ll quickly find yourself herded into the corner and brutally beaten to a pulp. However, this should be of little concern to those more capable at fighting games than myself.
Though I was able to get through both Arcade modes by learning character movesets, I felt as if I was at a disadvantage if I couldn’t do fluent combo attacks. The computer will constantly wait until it has an opening and then unleash a torrent of vicious attacks to kill you in moments. Realizing this, I learned to keep my distance and, if I had them, poke the opponent with ranged attacks until I had enough charge to use a Assassin’s Art attack. However, even this was not a sure thing, since if you are attacked before the Art resolves, it will be cancelled, and you will be at your foe’s cruel mercy. I would say overall that the gameplay is a strange but effective mix of Street Fighter special attacks and SNK combo attacks. It’s more technical this way, and tends to force you to pay more attention and learn quickly if you want to succeed.
Though there is a story at work behind the scenes in both Arcade modes in Yatagarasu, I found it a little difficult to follow. There’s something about a Council of Watchers working behind the scenes to shape humanity, dark magic, resurrection, assassins and general fighting game craziness. I wouldn’t say the story is uninteresting, but the translation for it is sometimes a little less than fluent, which might have been the reason I felt underwhelmed by it. Luckily, very few people play fighting games for the story, and if you just came to fight, there’s a lot to love about Yatagarasu. There is a training mode to hone your skills, vs. AI, online bouts and more. And if you really want to feel like you’re at the Arcade, there is also a variety of announcers for the Dynamic Commentary, which eggs you on as you fight, and hounds you when you lose. It got a little distracting at times, but overall was a cool and unique feature.
One of the things I loved most about the game was the art direction. I enjoyed the retro pixelized look, and appreciated the lush, hand-drawn quality of the various stages. The music was also a high point, as each track sounded different and kept me motivated to put the smack down on my foes. The voice acting for the Dynamic Commentary was also well done, and I grew to hate the commentators as they mocked my mistakes. The only thing that truly bothered me was that, on the standard resolution, the screen is very very small. As a result, I would often play on full screen, which stretched the characters a bit unnaturally, but made the game easier to see. It would have been nice for there to be a middle choice where the game looked bigger without being awkwardly stretched, but it’s hard to fault them on this minor quibble.
Overall, I was pretty pleased with my time in Yatagarasu. Though it is easy to see what games influenced it, I felt it was different enough to feel like it’s own game. The art and music were great, and though the roster isn’t huge, it’s big enough to spend a good chunk of time with. I spent a couple hours playing through Arcade and Training Mode to write this review, and could easily spend much more time mastering each of the 11 playable characters. Though the dialogue and plot weren’t the highlight, the fighting engine is solid, and with the promise of more potential updates in the future, there’s a lot of reasons to try the game out. For $14.99, Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm is a great addition to the library of any fighting fan. It will keep you hungry for battle, which any good fighting game should aspire to.
Review Copy Provided By Publisher