Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!! (PS Vita) Review

By Albert Lichi 15.11.2014 1

Review for Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!! on PS Vita

What can be said about fighting games that still use the classic style of sprites and traditional animation over the 3D polygon models? Most fighting game fans will typically prefer the 2D sprite animation given the option because, on a gameplay level, it is easier to identify individual frames in the character animation. Why is this so important? Engaging the opponent and knowing what frames are making them invulnerable and which points on each frame are danger zones plays a big part in each fight. The Samurai Showdown and Fatal Fury games, and, of course, Street Fighter II were all classic and memorable 2D sprite-based fighters back in the hey-day of 90s arcades, but now - in the modern era of technology - the love for these types still surges. Games like Persona 4 Arena, series like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, and now Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX all continue the tradition. Does love conquer all in this updated version of Arcana Heart 3? Find out in this Cubed3 review of Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX.

Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX is an updated re-release of the third game in the Arcana Heart series. It is a fairly popular hardcore fighting game franchise with an all-girl cast that still uses the aforementioned fan-favourite sprite art and animation. While it may not be the most fluid 2D sprite-based fighting game, it does have a widely varied cast of girls with their own unique styles. The sprite work and draftsmanship of the characters are all rendered fairly well for a low budget title, and everything is appropriately colourful. Light colours and soft pastels are certainly a suitable tone for its light-hearted, feel good atmosphere. Each combatant has a distinctive silhouette, making them easily identifiable. With over 20 girls to choose from, each with their own unique gimmick, in addition to the 19 combo augmenting Arcanas, it can be staggering at times deciding who to use.

When there is a cast with so much personality, it's a bit disappointing how flat the new visual novel mode is, however. Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX is a fighting game first, but this updated release adds a post story game mode that turns the game into a visual novel of sorts, which has some very uninspired writing. It doesn't help that the music isn't very engaging or exciting either, coming off as middling and forgettable. There are a few characters that seem to have voices that just don't match their character as well. One example is a girl who looks like a 15 or 16 physical education student, but her voice is that of a deep seductress. Saying that, despite a few questionable vocal styles, the game does have a pretty great pop song theme.

Screenshot for Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!! on PS Vita

In Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX, there has been some rebalancing to the game to make it fairer. One aspect that has been unchanged, however, is the fact that the fighting arenas are still too tight. Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX has huge attacks and sometimes characters are mounted on mechas, slime monsters, or monster drawings, and often the tight quarters can feel too restrictive. Even though the claustrophobic arenas haven't changed, the massive amount of content and options should please any fan of the series.

Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX has one major weakness - the absurdly long loading times. It happens in Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX very frequently and the wait is very long, lasting up to anywhere between 20 and 30 seconds. In this genre, action is supposed to be fast, and in Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX it can be very fast indeed. Some matches end up being shorter than some load times, though! Before and after battles, there are loading screens. Before and after cut-scenes, there are more loading screens. It is actually damaging that there is so much loading, almost to the point where it is actually hard to recommend.

Screenshot for Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!! on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX is a pretty good fighting game when it isn't locked on a load screen. Unfortunately, loading screens take up a considerable amount of play time and make this otherwise fine product of fighting nubile girls in miniskirts and swimsuits difficult to recommend based on such a technical limitation. Long and frequent load times are a kiss of death for any game, and for fighting games especially, because the game flow cycle tends to be short and fast. Load times with this much volume are counter-intuitive to this kind of game and ultimately hurts it. However, should the player have the patience of a saint, they will find a lot of decent action in this otherwise low budget but extensive new edition with fresh content. While Arcana Heart fans will most certainly enjoy this, anyone else might consider looking elsewhere for a 2D fighting game that has less technical flaws.

Developer

Examu

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Fighting

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

It's a shame about the dodgy loading times. I really like games like this!

Although... quite a few vita games have long loading times and it didn't mar their experience too much.

For example Gravity Rush, one of my favourite games ever, has some of the vita's longest loading times.

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