I’m always going to have a soft spot for Kickstarter games, because these are people who are either trying to bring a game to life, or trying to bring it to a wider audience. Such is the case with Arcana Heart 3 LOVEMAX SIXSTARS!!!!!! (yes, the name literally has six exclamation points). This is the lastest game in the Arcana Heart 3 saga, and since the last game was ported over to much such, the team wanted to bring it over here. One Kickstarter campaign later, and here we are.
Full disclosure, I’ve never played this series before, and I’m so-so when it comes to fighting games, but I make it by, and that’s what I did here. Further disclosure, if you look at the name and the art of the game, you know EXACTLY what Arcana Heart 3 LOVEMAX SIXSTARS!!!!!! has to offer. This is a full-on anime style fighting game featuring Japanese girls of various anime personalities, fighting styles, types (like human, demon, witch, etc.) and of course…clothing options. So yeah, this isn’t for everyone, but there is a lot to like here.
For example, there is a vast roster that you get in full from the beginning of the game. And like any good fighting game should, each character has their own unique skillsets and abilities that you’ll get to learn and master…if you can. I found myself drawn to the character Mei Fong, who has some pretty epic combos, and a devastating air move that I loved to use. But there’s tons of other options too that are both surprising, and incredibly creative, including a girl who has a deadly puppet in a suitcase, and isn’t afraid to use it. Yep, it’s a thing. There’s also a girl in a mech suit, a girl encapsulated by living water, a demon nun, a witch who is being controlled by a demon lord, etc. Again, a typical anime style fighting game roster. But hey, it really works. Unlike some fighting games there are no clone characters in Arcana Heart 3 LOVEMAX SIXSTARS!!!!!!.
If you’re a gamer who likes to have different modes to play with, then you’re in luck here, for Arcana Heart 3 LOVEMAX SIXSTARS!!!!!! has numerous gameplay modes from the standard to the intense. There’s the typical arcade style story mode, there’s Time Attack, Survival Score Attack, Training Modes, Versus Modes, Trial (where you have to complete an objective to move on) and much more. This variety makes the game something you’ll be playing for some time if you want.
I want to stop for a moment and appreciate the visuals of the game. The characters are well drawn and very unique, and though their animated forms can be a little pixelated at times, their animations are crisp, and it makes for an intense fighting experience. Add that to the flash and style of their moves, and it’s a visual spectacle. But, the game also goes beyond the norm at times to really show the personality of these characters. For example, the game’s fights are rendered in classic arcade style, with you being able to see your character and your foe in separate visions on the side of the screen. Furthermore, certain modes actually animate these still images to provide even more style, especially when it comes to when you win or lose.
It’s the little things here that really make the game shine, but it’s also these little things that can hold the game back at times from being a truly great fighter.
For example, the game can be played with a controller or on the keyboard, however, it’s clear that there is some bias towards the controller. At times, the game won’t shown the buttons that are needed to perform certain combos or specials, because they’re only visible via console buttons, which is no help on the keyboard. Thankfully, they do show you the basic controls, and you are able to customize it to your preference (thought the standard keyboard layout wasn’t too bad), but, at times it feels like I’m spamming basic combos while my AI opponents are blasting me with combos that I can’t even perceive.
Speaking of perceiving, the entire audio for the game is in Japanese, which is fine in a way, because the game is popular in Japan, but for us who don’t speak Japanese, and have sensitive ears, some of these voices can be very annoying. Yes, you can turn their volume down, or off, but it would’ve been nice to hear English versions of the characters.
Which brings me to the story, if you’re not familiar with this universe, you will be lost at times, and have to piece together things based on character conversations, but even then, it’s very complicated some of the things that’re going on. And some of the girls personalities are very extreme, which again, fits the anime mold. Sadly, the further downside of this really comes through in the After-Story mode, where at times you’ll face walls of text that seemingly never end all for resolutions that either don’t add up, or end very quickly.
Oh, and the After-Story mode features all the girls trying to get to a mystical hot spring…it ends exactly how you think it will. On a side note, I feel bad for the reporter who kicks it all off, I’m just saying.
Down points aside, Arcana Heart 3 LOVEMAX SIXSTARS!!!!!! really is a cool fighting game, and it’s clear the team had fun porting it over. It’s flashy, but it’s got substance, and between the characters and the modes you’ll find many reasons to come back and see what else you can find out about everything.
If it’s not your style? It’s cool. But if you’re willing to try it out? You might be surprised by how good it is.