E3 2015 Day 3 Recap PT 2 – Supernova, Bandai, Siegefall, and Relics of Gods!
This booth was Anime gamers’ paradise.
J-Stars Victory VS +; Saint Seiya: Soldiers’ Soul; Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment
Bandai has been knocking it out of the park with their unique fighting game engines lately, so it should be no surprise that their roster is only ramping up harder for 2015. Seems word finally reached the east that western gamers love anime, and love seeing their favorite anime characters of old battle it out in ways that rival the epicness of their televised/serialized escapades. With Dragon Ball Xenoverse’s insane success, fans should be stoked that J-Stars Victory VS is coming to PS3, PS4, and PS Vita. While no PC launch has been announced, I’m quite confident its coming. Only a matter of time.
Going hands-on, J-Stars controls concisely, while maintaining the speed and smoothness expected of this anime characters. The only awkward element is choosing to strafe run versus bull charge an opponent, as well as getting down the process of jumping over or on top of stage obstacles. But once you get the hang of it, some of the most impressive attack combos involve air to ground slam attacks, making the effort worthwhile. The standard battle format consists of picking two characters, and a support character you can call in, not unlike Marvel VS Capcom in a 3D setting. If you aren’t a hardcore Mortal Kombat or Blaze Blue master and still hope to unleash the full potential of your fan favorite character, fear not. J-Stars is novice friendly, with special abilities available at the simple double tap of one button with the right trigger, ala Xenoverse. Combos as well are a simple combination of throws, along with holding versus comboing a weak and strong attack button. Personally I’m more of a fan of twitch skills, counters, and well timed blocks as a show of skill in a game, rather than playing your controller like a keyboard to get a competitive ability advantage. J-Stars obliges well.
Fights occur on large iconic stages from various animes represented here. Expect the Dragon Ball arena, Hidden Leaf Village, Soul Society, and plenty more locations I’m not Otaku enough to tell you about. Like Rise of Incarnates, fights are two vs two (plus the support character you can summon for limited bursts) and the first to three KOs, even if its on the same opponent, win the round. By gaining momentum in battle, you unlock a Victory Burst opportunity to unleash your character’s greatest Anime moment on your hapless foe. This are still skillshots that require some planning and surprise to pull off, but the devastation they bring to the battlefield can both turn the tides, and destroy a good portion of the destructible environments in the process.
There’s not much to say other than I applaud their choice of introducing 1v1 battles, and keeping the original voice actors with subtitles like most true western fans would prefer. Except that Goku, oh man that takes getting used to. Believe it! The game hits on Friday, June 26th, so get your hype bike out of the garage. It’s time!
Saint Seiya: Soldiers’ Soul
Saint Seiya: Soldiers’ Soul is a bit earlier in development than the J-Stars localization port. Plus it has plans for a known PC launch, meaning it naturally will take a bit more time to see stateside. That said, in my short burst of gameplay, this felt like the most refined and natural 3D fighting game Bandai is pushing. By combining the ease of special ability use, and joining its resource bar as the same bar your teleport dodge consumes, every second of battle becomes a tactical decision. Combos are harsh but take skill and timing to chain together. Unlike Xenoverse, the battles for the most part stay bound by gravity, removing one of the more awkward elements of its predecessor.
But the visuals is where Saint Seiya shines like the constellations. Characters are rendered in beautiful 3D that puts even the new Anime to shame. Special abilities are timed and rendered in a way that lets you brace for and feel the power behind them. Each attack landed feels good, but every special ability landed on you is just a morale killer. In a game based on an Anime with more 1 hit KOs than Pokemon, its clear the designers are doing their source material proud to put so much effort into these effects. There’s a nice touch involved where the characters show legitimate surprise when their ultimate doesn’t finish off an opponent to keep true to form.
The roster is looking just as expansive as the show, and each character even packs multiple unlockable forms to show their progression. But the true feature that has me excited is a planned story mode, complete with voice acted cutscenes. Saint Seiya might be lacking Xenoverse’s custom character builder, but the visuals and gameplay more than make up for it. I expected to find a cheap cash in rehash of Bandai’s existing fighting mechanics going in, since the Saint Seiya fanbase doesn’t have a lot of choice to feed their addiction. Thankfully Bandai is giving this neglected group their long deserved AAA game.
Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment
While visiting the Bandai Namco E3 booth this week we saw something special: Sword Art Online.
Later this year, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment will be receiving a port, and visual upgrade, over to the PlayStation 4. The gameplay itself is largely unchanged from its Playstation Vita counterpart, but the HUD has been tweaked a bit, the translated text has been improved, and playing it with a full controller feels nice. With the port come some extras: online play, the ability to play a female character, and more bosses.
With Hollow Fragment’s release on the PlayStation 4, we’re one step closer to having an SAO MMO. Hopefully, one day, we’ll see a Sword Art Online game using Sony’s upcoming VR solution, the Morpheus.
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