Review by InotdrunkIswear

"A highly competent fighter and a very fun addition to the fighting game genre in the PS3"

Arcana Heart 3 is an excellent one on one fighting game that is easily one of the games that offer more in its game engine than the extra content included.

I'm not going to bore you too much with my babbling. I'm going straight to the point here. That said, I'm writing this review since the one written by another reviewer feels way too negative and concentrates on what he (or she) didn't like. I'm trying to be as objective as I can be instead by concentrating on what is in the game, not what is not. Let's begin the review, then.

The game offers few modes, but they still contain the correct amount of variety for people who want to enjoy a complete fighting game.

Story Mode is where you can pick a character and fight your way towards the end. Along the way, your character will encounter different rivals and interestingly enough, choose who to fight from a small selection among the full roster each time. Keep just one thing in mind: This is not a super long story mode like the one in BlazBlue. It's basically a glorified arcade mode.

Score Attack is a mode that resembles a typical arcade mode, complete with a final boss. The opponents you face are progressively stronger and more difficult, with everything culminating in what is the strongest and most devastating boss I have come upon in a long time. If you get distracted for even a second, you risk losing the round. That said, beating her is a challenge some might find highly rewarding.

The game also has a network mode, which is of the same type of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. The quality is excellent, allowing two players to enjoy the game with little to no lag, even in my case being in the American continent, playing against Japanese players. The online mode will likely not disappoint in the least.

Versus Mode is where you can fight another player locally. It's a staple of the genre. If you don't have either a second controller or another person to play with, you can fight against the CPU, which is very useful as an extension of the training mode, only under normal circumstances where you can lose the fight.

Training mode is self explanatory. You get to practice your moves, learn how a character fights and even get familiar with your opponents. This is especially useful because the game is not the typical fighter. You use three buttons for regular attacks: weak, medium and strong attacks. In addition, there is a button used for dashing, which will make your character advance towards the enemy faster than walking or short dashes alternatively, you can use it to move by flying for a distance if performed while airborne. This is with the purpose of keeping pressure on the opponent and stringing attacks, when you would normally link two or three, maybe four after your character is pulled away like in the majority of games. The fifth attack button is for using the Arcana system that gives the game's its name. They are basically like a character, animal or equipment of some sort. The closest think I can think of would be the Striker system from the King of Fighters series in its NESTS saga in that. However, the Arcana commands vary a lot. Some have powerful attack characteristics or other types of effects that are to be discovered by the player (or wisely searched online). The Arcana system begins to shine when the player experiments with combinations, though. This is a game where you can pick a character, but if you don't like the default arcana associated with her, you can choose any of the ones in the game. This gives the selected character a new set of secondary special moves (the character specific specials are already predetermined). The possibilities available are very, very large and fun to learn. If you face an opponent with an arcana which attacks in a manner you like, you can try it out on the character you like best. It's just a matter of experimentation.

The gallery covers unlockable illustrations that include promotional artwork, in-game art and even what seems to be fan art. Being a console version worked on by Arc System Works, it follows BlazBlue's template and offers a sound and music gallery, which is very nice if you like the music.

The Option mode is what you'd expect from a fighting game. No need to explain.

Replay Mode is simply to view replays you have saved of your fights online. These can be good for studying how you got your ass kicked or if you won despite a terrible difficulty, get a bit of an ego boost. Good for bragging too.

That's pretty much what the game contains. The game is very simple in many regards, but is very deep as well. The amount of effects in the Arcana make for a very large replay value and possible combinations.

That's it for the gameplay. Let's get to the graphics and music, shall we?

Graphically this game is certainly no BlazBlue. It was developed by Examu, a different company for the arcades and its console version was handled by Arc System Works. There is not an ounce of graphical similarity. The characters are well animated, but it's not to the point where it would be something out of the ordinary. The resolution is not so big either, but that in itself is far from being a detractor to a very varied and singular game engine.

The backgrounds could have used more life, though. Despite being well illustrated, they feel rather inert.

The character illustrations are the typical moe things that seem to be in high demand in Japan right now. That can be off putting for many people who would prefer Guilty Gear's artistic style or Street Fighter's, but it's not THAT bad. At the very least it is much better than the one in Arcana Heart 1, which was brought here by Atlus. And that ends my little subjective rant on the subject of character illustration.

Now, music.

Musically, this game is very far from bad. The only problem is that it doesn't possess tracks that are representative of a character or widely different from one another. This does not detract from the game, though. The music does its work of keeping a high tempo while playing.

Well, that's basically it. I find myself having trouble grading the game. On one hand, I think it deserves a full 10/10 because of its game engine. Variety like that despite an apparent simplicity is rare and it's something more high profile games like Street Fighter do not have. On the other hand, the game is not perfect and does lack in modes, but what is there is very, VERY entertaining.

Another problem is that there is not a demo available. It's either buying the whole game in one single move or not. My recommendation to anyone who reads this review is to look for videos of it in action. There are a bunch of good ones in Youtube, for example. Finding out how the game looks and plays should be easy enough.

This review is also not written from the perspective of a gamer who enjoys games with moe characters or feels attracted to a particular niche. I have liked many fighting game series over the years and wholly enjoyed them. I think that a game with this amount of work in its game engine deserves a review that addresses particular advantages in the game and disadvantages as well as urging the potential buyer to investigate a little about it.

The price is not that high and the potential of replayability is enormous. Look the game up in action and decide. If you are looking for a game with a different feel that is also entertaining AND packs an excellent online service, you can get this game and wnjoy it to your heart's content (pun not intended). On the other hand, if you are concerned with unlockables, wide variety of modes, high definition graphics and a strong beat soundtrack, there are other great games for you.

If you made it this far, you have my thanks for reading this.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/28/11

Game Release: Arcana Heart 3 (US, 04/19/11)


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