Thursday, 16 May 2013

Vanguard Princess

Gamespot Score : n/a

My Score: 7.5

(+)Pros: - Impressive visuals and sprite animations, - Incredibly well designed characters, - Easy to pick up combat system that is simple and accessible to most, - Good variety of fighting types among the character casts, some incredibly unique, - Support character mechanics are pretty interesting and provide more depth into the fighting system, - Great soundtrack.

(-)Cons: - Lackluster story presentation for all characters, - Only 10 playable characters, - Only arcade and versus modes.

Gameplay time: -

Fighting games on the PC usually spell doom if you do not have a game pad. "Street Fighter 4" on the PC with keyboard controls was TERRIBLE for me, and I knew I had to get some game pad action when I went into "Vanguard Princess". Being a doujin fighting game that was created by an ex-Capcom employee, no one really knew what "Vanguard Princess" was or even paid any attention to it. It is a fighting game with a full female roster, similar to the likes of "Skull Girls" and "Arcana Heart". I haven't played any of those, so I cannot judge, but as for this game, its good fun. Since it IS a doujin title, it has some lackluster features when compared to other fighting games, but if you're willing to fork out single digit cash for this title, you're in for some good classic fighting with a bunch of cute girls.

The story is pretty non-existent here, due to the bland as all hell presentation. You basically star as any of the characters and go through their story mode, as they each try to complete their individual goals. Yui tries to look for her sister, Haruka wants to test her new magical powers, Kurumi wants some insight on her memories, so on and so forth. Each character has their own unique story, with battles against rivals and interactions with other characters through the arcade roulette, but those do not really matter. The characters are voiced in combat, but the story text aren't voiced at all, which is another reason why its bland as all hell.

Probably the best interface in the entire game.

This is probably the best thing about the game, its visuals and sprite animations. For a doujin game, the game really excels at this department, even better than some other full blown 2D fighting games to some aspect (it easily stands on par with the animations of "Blazblue" and "Persona 4:Arena"). Character movements are fluid, and as you string your character's moves into combo everything looks really smooth. There are some jags and jumps, but most of the sprite animations are beautiful. The visuals may not be up there with the big name 2D fighters, but is still pretty commendable. There are lots of stuff going on in the background, and the characters look great on screen, though it is unfortunate that we still cannot interact with the background stages.

The characters are really well designed, which is another plus side to the game. Having a full female roster helps, but its even better that all the characters look really different and PLAY different, which is really important. Characters like Luna and Natalia really stand out, with the high tech sci-fi equipment, while other characters like Yui and Saki take the more simple school uniform design, but work well. Then there's our swimsuit bikini fighter Eri, and eye-patch girl Ayane. The fighting system and control scheme are both fairly simple, which makes it a game that is easy to pick up for beginners. Following the same move/control scheme as always, its easy to perform moves and soon the game becomes less intimidating.

F**king beautiful game, ain't it?

Now lets talk about something that is important to all fighting games. The variety of character fighting styles. We don't want another "Street Fighter" where there are a ton of Ryu clones. Many fighting games do avoid this and fortunately, "Vanguard Princess" is among them. Being a game with only 10 characters, its important that the characters differ from each other, and luckily they do, for the most part (other than Yui and  Saki being a LITTLE bit familiar to each other). Yui is a beginner character, hard hitting, has good range and average on everything else. Haruka spams magic from afar, some dealing insane damage. Lilith is a grappler, something that is needed in all fighting games while Luna and Ayane are ammo-styled zoners that play very differently. Kurumi is the most unique character of them all, being able to work, fuse and attack with her supports.

Speaking of supports, its a mechanic unique to this game that I haven't seen used in other fighting games (this one functions differently from the likes of "Marvel Vs Capcom"). Basically as you choose your character, you get to choose 1 support character among 4 to partner up with your initial fighter. Most of the times these supports just act as buffers, combo extenders or being annoying to the enemy. In other words, they are just catalysts that add to your victory (unless you are Kurumi, then its different). There are 4 support types, Kanae, Eko, Sierra and Juliet, all of which fufill different roles on the field. Kanae is a trap/set-up character, Eko is a status ailment/combo extender, Sierra is a full-screen lockdown/far ranged supporter while Juliet is a nuker/zoner. Each support paired with different characters can produce magnificently different results, which encourages experimentation. 

Cat fight!

This is a doujin game with limited development focus, unlike most big name titles, so there will be flaws. The story presentation, like I mentioned before, is really bland, which makes reading the story really uninteresting. Adding voices would help, since there are already voices for each character. Also, since there are only 10 characters, if there are characters that do not fit your style or you aren't familiar with their control scheme/move set, there aren't a lot of characters to fall back on. However the biggest throwback to the game is probably its lack of modes, with only arcade and versus, there is little room for replay-ability.

"Vanguard Princess" is pretty much a hit and go game. You'll find yourself engrossed in it quickly if you're into fighting games and anime chicks, but unless you are hardcore into the game it probably won't last very long. The soundtrack is also really impressive, especially during certain stages. Since the English version has been getting some love lately, I'd only wish for some character updates and such that would increase its play-ability.

Oh, and everybody loves Luna, those boobs.

Happy gaming!