Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 30.09.2016

Review for Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena on PC

A group of heroes fight in order to obtain the seven orbs of power, and these artefacts are said to hold the immense power to grant any wish. Needless to say, an original plot is not one of Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena's strong suits. Still, an unoriginal story is hardly a reason to pass on a 2D fighter. Studio Saizensen's latest makes its long-awaited debut in the West, but is this capable of winning over a warrior's heart, or is it doomed to obscurity?

In Blade Arcus, all of the playable characters have their own weapon-based style, the requisite three-to-four special attacks, and a couple super moves. Some also have unique abilities. Rouna, the samurai-maid (who fights like a Ninja), for example, can double-jump and air-dash, while the sword spirit Urayukihime performs more powerful special attacks, but they require frame-perfect execution. There are even moves that can buff or de-buff characters, such as increase their defence or slow them down. Otherwise, the roster is mostly grounded, and their move-sets are designed for almost every situation. The controls and mechanics can be easily grasped by anyone familiar with the genre.

2D fighting games, as common as they are, require different ideas to set them apart from the pack. This one employs a main/support system. This is not to be confused with tag or team-based franchises such as Tekken Tag Tournament and Marvel Vs Capcom. The mains actively participate in the match, and they can call on the support when their services are required. The support can take on an offensive or defensive role, such as extending a combo, breaking out of one, creating mix-ups, and so on. Calling for support drains a specific meter, which is refilled whenever the main is attacked. It's also possible to switch characters in-between rounds.

Screenshot for Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena on PC

This system is interesting because it gives more options as the match progresses. For instance, if someone gets hit and knows he or she is about to be subjected to a devastating combo, a call for support can avoid doing so. The trade-off is that they most likely won't have a support meter on hand, the next time they land a hit, so they lose out on some combo-extending opportunities. To help put it into perspective, the player character has 10,000 health, the average combo does around 3,000 - a combo that takes advantage of both the super and the support meters can do 6,000+. This game is also very generous with meter gains, so simple mistakes can be very costly. Needless to say, rounds tend to be pretty short, which is why best three out of five is the standard.

The general flow of the match strikes a nice-balance between methodical and fast-paced. Since there isn't any air-blocking, it's generally a bad idea to abuse aerial assaults. Conversely, there are plenty of options for covering ground quickly, such as dashes and meter-draining evasive maneuverers. The winners are the ones who can read their opponents, but being able to execute an elaborate combo at a critical moment has its perks. This makes for a fighting game that just feels good. It's easy to get into, fun to play, and it has enough depth to reward anyone who sticks with it.

Screenshot for Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena on PC

Unfortunately, this title has a major issue, one that keeps it away from the upper echelons of the genre, and that is its lack of balance. The top-tier characters not only have the easiest learning curve, but they also hold the advantage in important attributes, such as reach and range. The most popular fighters tend to be Rage, Roselinde, and Sakuya. Competitive players are likely to gravitate towards these three, simply because they don't have to work hard for their wins.

On the opposite end of the spectrum lies Misty. She has a unique style, because it relies on setting up orbs that function as delayed projectiles. However, her moves don't mesh well with the game's mechanics, and she's liable to get interrupted before she can get any momentum going. There's also Altina, who is even worse. She uses a bow, which should make her a good with projectiles/zoning, but she practically melts as soon as anybody gets close.

Screenshot for Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena on PC

The more unique characters being some of the weakest speaks largely about how problematic a poorly-balanced fighter can be. When the top-tiers dominate competitive play, there's not really an incentive to use anyone else. The average match devolves into the same three to five characters fighting each other over and over. It's boring for the spectators, and not fulfilling for the players. Overcoming a serious disadvantage can be thrilling, but most will conclude that it just isn't worth the effort.

Alongside the usual story, versus, and training modes, this also has online-play. Players can even queue for matches while in training mode. Unfortunately, they'll be hard-pressed to actually get into a fight, simply because there never seems to be anyone online. This is especially unfortunate, since Studio Saisenzen took the time to address online issues shortly after the game's launch. At least there's always local-play, and those dedicated can try to organize online sessions with others.

Screenshot for Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena is a thoroughly solid fighter with some great twists on the formula, but it's hamstrung by an unbalanced roster. The lack of a player-base also hurts its long-term appeal. After seeing each character's storyline to the end, there isn't much else to do, aside from practicing for fights that may never happen. Still, if 2D fighter fans are willing to look past these issues, then there's a really decent title to be had.

Developer

Studio Saizensen

Publisher

Studio Saizensen

Genre

Fighting

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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

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