The war between corporate greed and passion has always run deep within the games industry, but for every overmilked, aging franchise, there is someone out there who has a true love of the art. These people want to make a profit, sure, but they also want to spread joy and variety to the masses; Studio Saizensen is among them.
Enter Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena, a dream match fighting game centered around heroes from the Shining series of RPGs.
Game Name: Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena
Publisher(s): Studio Saizensen
Developer(s): Studio Saizensen
Release Date: 7/28/2016
When I had first heard about Blade Arcus, I was not expecting much in the way of features. Much like Koihime Enbu, it started out as a genre-bending arcade fighter which was later ported to Playstation consoles in Japan. However, though games of ilk often have less involved mechanics, Blade Arcus does a good job in making itself feel unique if nothing else.
To begin, Blade Arcus’s roster is more or less par for the course at 16, but gains the dream match edge thanks to featuring characters from over 20 years of Shining (Shining force, Shining Blade, ETC) series titles. With that said though, a number of the characters are somewhat bland at first glance (note: I am not familiar with the Shining series and as such may be missing context that may make the characters more interesting.), so though the roster sports a healthy enough number of combatants, not all that many catch the eye of those not in the know.
Of course, a roster is not what makes or breaks a fighter (not on its own at least), it’s the system mechanics that make a game really shine. It is here that Blade Arcus offers a pleasant surprise. Force, the game’s meter resource, can be used to power up specials and perform supers (naturally), but can also be utilized to cancel the end of attacks to net a larger combo (which adds some much-needed depth to the game’s 3-button combat system). Similarly, force can be used to escape from tricky situations and reset the advantage.
These may seem like a fairly simple couple of mechanics, but they’re more involved than some other fighters in this subgenre get, so good on them. If nothing else, it stretches out the gameplay for fighting game fanatics as there is always something new to find with a cancel/combo extend mechanic.
Of course, it’s important to consider what Blade Arcus offers to the casual player as well; after all, it’s not exactly the most competitive fighter in the market, to begin with. The hook here is that each player chooses two characters for each match, with the first character acting as the main fighter and the second as an assist. When a round ends, though, the player has the option to bring their assist character to the front lines and vice versa. This gives players an easy way to turn the tides when the character they chose isn’t panning out without having to finish the match, making for less frustration.
It may not be on levels like Marvel Vs. Capcom or the like, but a simple mechanic such as character switching can often prove valuable in finding a more casual audience as it just gives them more variety, offering more replayability to those who only want to play for fun and not necessarily to improve.
Unfortunately, though there’s some merit in the combat system and character swap mechanics, the game is light on content. It’s not overly surprising when you consider that the game is an arcade port, but even the arcade mode is somewhat lacking. Some characters have a generic story where they’re looking for seven orbs to grant their greatest wish, wherein they run across characters from various entries in the Shining series. In general, those ladders are fairly bland with little dialogue and no real boss battle at the end. With that said, though, they’re better off than some other characters, who have no story segments whatsoever.
Truthfully, Blade Arcus‘s own interesting combat mechanics almost work against it in the long run. I believe this game could potentially reach a broader audience than I would normally recommend games of this ilk to, but the sheer lack of content makes me doubt that hope. Mix this with the somewhat unremarkable graphics and animation and you get a game that ultimately doesn’t have quite what it takes to rise above the enthusiast pool and make a pass for a more mainstream audience, regardless of the promise it may have shown.
However, though Blade Arcus is by no means a perfect game, I am glad that I got to play it. It offered some unique mechanics and systems that I would not have been exposed to if Studio Saizensen hadn’t brought this game over, and at the end of the day that’s really what it’s all about. Many games don’t make it outside of their place of origin for fear of not being profitable but making an effort to bring out more niche titles should be applauded. It’s like when a good friend recommends a fun B-movie to you; maybe it’s not the most robust experience out there, but it was something new that at least had some merit and that desire both to share and grow from new experience should be cherished.
*Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena was reviewed using a Steam key provided by a PR Firm. You can find additional information about our review policy here.
A bit short of shining
Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena is a decent offering in the way of fringe fighting games. Granted, it’s not quite in the realm of “poverty” (less popular games with robust system mechanics and fun gameplay), it still offers a good time to anyone looking for some variety in their fighters. Ultimately, a severe lack of content combined with a $30 price point makes Blade Arcus hard to recommend to anyone besides big time-fighting game enthusiasts and fans of the Shining series.
- Interesting and fun meter mechanics
- Character-swapping adds strategy and variety
- Fun character interaction (when present)
- Lack of content in general
- Not all characters have story within their arcade mode
- Visually bland characters out of context