The summer time has always been quiet for new game releases, and it is usually spent mopping up some of the games that have been gathering dust, but every now and then a there’s a couple of surprise releases that can entertain in the lazy summer months – but is Arcana Heart 3? – Although having been out in Japan and the U.S. for some time, is it worthy of your summer monies?
Arcana Heart 3 is a very unique fighting game and for those who are not familiar with the series can compare it to other Arc System Works’ series, such as BlazBlue and Guilty Gear. The art style is virtually identical to that of BlazBlue with sprites being used for the characters -although they look a little out dated and could have been spruced up a bit. The game features twenty-three very different characters with one thing in common – they are all women. Yep, that’s right this game is populated purely by female fighters, which at first may seem a little strange but with such a variety of fighting styles, personalities and appearances, you will soon find a fighter to suit your tastes. If this wasn’t enough, the game also features twenty-three Arcana, who are deities that lend their power to you, and are very important in taking out your opponents.
An example of the kind of characters you will find in Arcana Heart 3 are Akane, who is a woman from cat girl that moves very fast and has attacks that allow her to take down her target swiftly. She is compatible with most Arcana, Yoriko, a fourteen year old occult fanatic who wields a staff bigger than herself, which she uses to clobber enemies and cast her evil spells. Then there is Eko, who has the power to collect and form energy into weapons and monsters to do her bidding. Each character has a large number of different colour outfits to wear but this will make no difference to their performance. The Arcana are all based off different elements and objects that perceive good and evil such as fire, earth and water for elements and flower, halo and metal for objects. They can range from sword wielders to casters, whilst their attacks are very powerful and can turn the tide of any battle if executed at the correct time.
The fighting system in Arcana Hearts 3 is a strange one and it can be confusing as to how you should play the game. At times you will be expected to react with super speed and to pull off combos before your opponent has a chance to act, and at other times you can take it at such a slow pace it’s not challenging whatsoever. The majority of your time you will be spamming your favourite combos, which are quite easy to pull off considering the game uses a five button system, and occasionally you will want to make use of your force bar.
The force bar, when filled and activated, unlocks your characters hidden potential and allows them to hit much harder than they normally would. Not only this but their Arcana also has the ability to unleash its most powerful attack which, when paired with a few combos, can result in the battle being over in mere seconds. The other gripe is a problem that a lot of fighting games suffer from, and that’s the stages leading up to the final boss tend to be rather easy, and the final boss can be near impossible to defeat and is usually defeated with some luck and a lot of persistence.
Despite the issues described above, the game is a lot of fun and the attack animations will even impress those of you who don’t normally appreciate sprite artwork. The voice overs are done in Japanese and from a brief look at the menu it look as if they cannot be changed, but this isn’t a bad thing and the chosen voice actors fit the characters well. The music is amazing, and fast paced, which really helps those slow moments in battle feel less painful, and paired with the crazy sound effects of girls getting battered just makes the game that bit more awesome.
Fighting game enthusiasts will have a great time with Arcana Heart 3 and probably spend a decent amount of time playing it well into the next year, but for those who only like to dabble in the fighting genre every now and then this may be one to miss. Unless you are truly bored until the big titles come out at the end of the year, I’d say save your cash, unless of course you have a fetish for girl on girl action…of the fighting variety.