Game Review by: Ifakoya English
Okay. I don’t rightly know why I own this game. I don’t even recall when I got it. It was either acquired through the less embarrassing method of ordering it online, or though the slightly embarrassing method of actually physically bringing this game up to a clerk and paying for it… probably getting weird looks from people along the way (but on a lesser scale than when I bought the collectors edition of Record of Agarest War). I might have even of had my sanity questioned by the clerk for purchasing a game that literally touts itself as being an enormous cat-fight. Well either way, I have this game, and I love it. So there.
The fighting game genre has been good to me in my rather limited experience with it. Really. I have enjoyed a majority of the games chosen from the well known Street Fighter to the extremely weird Line-Kill Spirits. I am by no means a very good fighting games player at all. My record against others is usually 0-infinity in wins and losses unless it is against friends since they are normally about as skilled as I am. Arcana Heart actually makes me feel capable; probably because I don’t have to worry about online, and my only competition are other close friends to play it with me, though they never truly speak of playing this game unless the girls are around, mostly due to images they feel they much protect. I take pride in having it, even though I’m far behind in owning ONLY this one. I thought about getting the others, but unfortunately each edition has only further isolated me.
Anyway, Arcana Heart is a great little gem, but I never hear anyone talk about it ever, even when talking to people who pride themselves on playing games people never really hear of. The series itself is great, even if I can’t get into most of it. Arcana Heart, at least the first one, is a great fighting game that newcomers can get into easily with a simple to access move list, fluent controls, and no one character being ultimately better to use than another. It is pretty easy to pick up and play even without going through a tutorial or training, but even then it at least attempts to get you used to the controls in order to help you weave some pretty epic battles.
The art style is very cutsey. I’m not overly fond of that, but it achieves what it sets out to do without heading over the edge (as I feel the art in the others has done) and without being too weird. This game is basically a fight between collections of unique female combatants over something. Admittedly the story is a little dull, but that was hardly surprising. It would be rather unreasonable to pick this game up and expect a grand operatic story with combat, even though the opening video seems to suggest that. This game’s “story” really exists to pit you again an interesting array of fighters until you get to the cheap boss (not as cheap at 3’s boss of course, but still very cheap) so it’s not gritty or dark like many fighting games attempt to be.
If I’ve made this game sound easy, it’s not really all that easy as the CPU goes at you hard, and does its best to make sure you lose. You can adjust difficulty, but who plays on the easiest setting? That and this game is designed to minimize the spamming of life saving special moves. The game makes use of excellent systems like allowing you to pair up different girls and their spirits to better fit your play style as most games do not offer you that sort of freedom, but outside of story your enemy can and will do so as well just to keep you on your toes.
The soundtrack is fairly decent, nothing worth nothing with the exception of the opening theme which is actually really great and doesn’t compel one to always skip the intro. It is also a nice little FMV intro as well, somewhat introducing you to your characters. The Ps2 version comes with the original game and the FULL Patch so one can decide what sort of game you are getting into early and while each plays mostly the same, the normal mode is cheaper in its combat.
Arcana Heart lets you unlock certain things through the completion of story and arcade in order to keep you playing, but the game is fun regardless. It is fun with friends, family, and whoever you decide to play with.
All in all the game is worth it, even if you decide to head with this one rather than the more recent releases.