By Steve Baltimore / August 24th, 2016
|Title||BLADE ARCUS from Shining: Battle Arena|
|Release Date||July 28th, 2016|
|Platform||PC via Steam|
I’ve always wanted to play one of the fighting games based on the Shining Force series. So when Studio Saizensen announced they would be launching Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena on Steam, I was pretty excited. Though I thought this was an odd one to start with since none of the characters in this game appear in any of the Shining Force games we got in the West, but in the end all that matters is whether it’s a solid fighter. Let’s find out if this one is up to par.
Since I don’t know a whole lot about the world these characters come from nor about any of their backstories this review will mostly focus on the mechanics of the game. The basic story of the game follows the fighters as they try and retrieve seven Dragon Orbs in order to get their greatest wish granted. Man, that sounds familiar doesn’t it? Anyways, each character has their own unique ending, and some of the things they wished for made me laugh out loud. Melty wishes for the perfect ice cream, for example. Some of the characters do have serious storylines, but without playing any of the titles they are from, it makes it hard to really get into them.
Graphically this title features some very nicely done 3D character models, though the game itself is 2D. The characters are all very detailed, and everything moves along silky smooth at what is likely 60 FPS or close to it. The special moves have plenty of flashy effects, especially the EX Force moves. All of the backgrounds are nicely detailed and just add to the overall wonderful visual experience of this one.
The Soundtrack in this is pretty flat. There’s nothing wrong with it, but a lot of the tracks sound similar and are pretty much what you would expect from a fighter with a medieval fighting style. This one is fully voiced in Japanese and the voice actors do a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life. There is no English dub for this title.
You will start each battle by picking two fighters. One fighter will assist the other during combat, and you can switch between the two in between rounds. The basic combat is that of any 2D fighter. You have 3 attack buttons and one assist button. Assist attacks can be used to do additional damage to your opponent during combos, assist your EX Force moves or to even save your skin with a Support Intervention. These moves are really easy to pull off using only a direction and the support button, though intervention supports will require a bit of timing. You will need at least 2 of the 4 bars filled up on you support gauge to perform support actions, and this gauge will fill up as you take damage.
It is every easy to chain attacks together using your special moves and the three attacks provided. It only took me a few minutes to start pulling off some very impressive combos and winning like a champ. It does help that the CPU is very easy on any difficulty below hard. However playing on the top two difficulty levels will require you to get very creative with your move set. I felt all the fighters were pretty balanced in this one, and it really comes down to picking a character that fits your play style.
Though this is a very fun and solid fighter, it comes up short in the features department. There is a Story mode, VS mode where you can fight random CPU opponents or friends, a Training mode and an Online VS mode. The Online VS mode works pretty well, when you can find a match, and the few matches I played were lag free. You can only choose between standard match making and ranked matches only in this mode. There is no gallery to view any of the endings you’ve obtained, no unlockable content of any kind, and this makes it feel like a very barebones package.
I did enjoy my time with Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena. The combat is fast paced and easy to get into with enough depth to keep you coming back, and the characters are pretty interesting. The main problem here is there just is not enough content to warrant the $29.99 price tag. It took me 5 to 6 hours to complete this game will all the characters and earn every Steam Achievement. There are other comparable fighters on Steam at the price that offer a lot more content, so while I do not think this a bad game, I would probably wait for sale before snagging it up.
Game provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Blade Arcus from Shining BattledegicaSegaSteamStudio Saizensen