Before anything else, let me just say that localization is a beautiful thing. I don’t know what life would be like without series like Senran Kagura or Hyperdimension Neptunia. The design philosophies of games more widely and directly identified as Japanese are simply different than what is innately present in the west, and as they say, variety is the spice of life. On that note, Degica has just brought over Koihime Enbu, a fighting game based on an erotic visual novel which is a re-imagining of the classic Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Now that’s niche. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Game Name: Koihime Enbu
Publisher(s): Degica Games
Developer(s): UNKNOWN GAMES , M2 Co.,LTD
Release Date: 5/19/2016
On a basic level, Koihime Enbu is set in a world that translates into a gender bent China in the three kingdoms era. There are 13 characters, each based on (or at least named after) famous figures in the conflict and belonging to one of four factions. As far as the story goes, there isn’t much to say; each character has a campaign that essentially boils down to an arcade mode ladder (stands to reason, as Koihime Enbu was originally an arcade game) with visual novel-like story segments in between. Unfortunately, unlike certain other games with this type of duality, the in-game character assets are not used in the story segments, making them rather dry due to having only a still background and two text boxes to look at until the next fight.
Moreover, there isn’t any grand overarching story. Most characters just are sent to compete in a tournament for a sacred seal, the boss character (Ryofu Housen) looks to a general for employment to feed her pets, and the Shu faction (top row of characters/polearm users) just go on a quest and fight others along the way. These stories aren’t terrible, but they feel lacking without character context, and as such, the only real content in the game outside of plain arcade mode or versus is lacking if you’re not familiar with the characters.
Combat in Koihime Enbu is simple enough: three buttons of varying attack strength and one additional button used for supers, grabs, and assists. Each character has three special moves, a super, an all-out super (hi ougi) that uses a complete EX or “tactics” bar to use and requires the opponent to be in a crumple state to activate, and a choice between one of two assist characters based on the chosen fighter (except for Ryofu, who has only one possible assist). Pressing forward and either medium or heavy results in a somewhat slow attack that causes a “fatal counter,” which causes the opponent to enter a crumple state. When in such a state, the attacking player can either use their hi ougi or perform an extended combo thanks to the crumple state’s adding juggle properties to certain moves. So, simply put, combat seems to be mostly trying to find and opening and snowballing off of a fatal counter.
That’s really all there is to the game; in a way, it’s hard to pinpoint the feeling knowing that. On one hand, the game is frighteningly light on content. On the other; it was originally just an arcade game and honestly, the sheer uniqueness of the setting is something of a breath of fresh air. In the end, though, it’s hard to not compare this game to Nitro+ Blasterz, which at least had a story mode that could easily be enjoyed without knowing anything about the characters. Mix this with rough graphics and a hefty $40.00 price tag, and you have a bit of a tough sell.
The whole situation has me at war with myself; I want to love it because the world it creates seems so fun, but the end results of the negatives adding up make it feel like an amateur overcharging for their passion project, which is made more painful still when in my heart I want to support this passionate work.
A review copy of this title was provided by Degica Games.
As someone who absolutely loves games in all their forms, it’s hard to be so harsh on Koihime Enbu. It offers up a combination of buxom young women and ancient Chinese literature that I’m certain would have never been made in the west. However, content is light and as such, the characters don’t shine as much as they could without prior knowledge of their personality and mannerisms. Koihime Enbu is a fun purchase if you’re a big time fighting game fanatic, but it’s hard to recommend it to the average consumer.
- Unique premise
- Has a character who is literally Lu Bu and is named Ryofu Housen
- Rough art style and animations give the impression of an amateur passion project
- Lacking in content
- Asking price is rather hefty for what is offered
- To look up one of the characters due to interest is to search for porn. I’m not going to list this as a pro or con, nor am I going to judge. Just laying down the facts
- The game we deserve, but don't need right now