Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is a crossover fighting game featuring fan favorites from the Japanese magazine Dengeki Bunko all beating the stuffing out of each other. There's a healthy roster of characters to choose from including characters from popular shows such as Sword Art Online and Durara!, plus some more obscure characters for hardcore fans, with a cameo from Virtua Fighter's Akira Yuki mixed in for SEGA fighting game fans.
Dengeki Bunko relies on three attack buttons (light which is chainable into other attacks, medium and heavy) and an assist button, which calls in an NPC that is not from the main roster to help out the player. Assists come with a slight drawback though - there's a cooldown period that needs to elapse before you can call your assist again AND you need a bar of super meter (Climax Gauge in this case, of which you get 5 bars/gauges) stocked up. You can also use the Climax Gauge to unleash special attacks a la Marvel vs. Capcom, right down to the quarter circle forward/back and two punch/kick motions.
The in-game graphics are gorgeous, resembling high-end painstakingly hand drawn sprites over beautiful backgrounds, each themed after different SEGA and Dengeki Bunko titles. The Story Mode and cutscenes in between fights are by far and away the best looking visuals about “Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax”. Each cutscene features the player's character as a static drawing with computer animated facial expressions. It really has to be seen to be appreciated.
One of the greatest things I can say about the character roster is that each character feels vastly different from the other. What's more is that the game includes a paragraph about each character right onto the character selection screen that mentions that character's personality and includes details that might translate to that character's fighting style, so if you're not familiar with the Dengeki Bunko universe, the game gives you all the crib notes you'll need to appreciate each unique character.
I didn't really recognize about 80% of the roster, so Akira Yuki (who can be unlocked after completing Story Mode) is the bright spot of the game's character roster for me. I found a few characters enjoyable, namely one who throws a vending machine as a special move, but I found Akira the most enjoyable to play with, with his lightning fast, easily executed offense that melts the opponent's life bar like butter in a microwave. His inclusion was so well done from a gameplay standpoint, it makes me wonder why a few other familiar SEGA characters weren't also included. There's a Sonic the Hedgehog themed stage, but no corresponding character, even though Sonic or Knuckles or even Rouge would be great fit for a fighting game. A little bit of missed potential but it did make me eager to see if there'll be another game like this one, but more dedicated to SEGA characters.
Dengeki Bunko doesn't offer any tutorials in the beginning of story mode or any combo challenges that help players learn characters strengths and weaknesses a la Street Fighter 4 or King of Fighters. Thankfully Dengeki Bunko isn't a technically complex fighting game, so feeling things out and experimenting on your own should suffice to carry players to the end of the game, but if you're looking to hone the basics or play at an advanced level and drain 80% of the opponent's life bar, you're on your own. YouTube videos or a walkthrough on GameFAQs might be able to help or fighting game forums community might lend a hand in learning some new tricks.
Dengeki Bunko has little in the way of mode-variety. Players can choose from Arcade/Story Mode, Time Attack, Score Attack and Survival modes in addition to online play. As mentioned before, there's no tutorial or combo practice nor is there a Team Battle or Co-Op Battle options, even though the game is technically a crossover title. There's a character color customization mode that might appeal to some players who want to add a personal touch to their fighters. And there's also unlockable art and pre-set color schemes that can be unlocked with in-game currency, but the only way to gain said currency is to grind over and over in the monotonous single player modes.
Maybe it's just my copy/connection/PS3, but the background music during fights kept cutting out or abruptly stopping and jumping back to the beginning of the song. I'm unsure if this is just an issue that's exclusive to my software or hardware, but if it's not, then it's just really lazy sound editing on an engineer's part. Stopping and skipping and music jumping around aside, the soundtrack itself is perfectly fine and inoffensive, nothing memorable but nothing offensive.
TLDR (Too Long, Didn't Read):
A few issues aside, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is a fun little fighting game that'll take up an evening or two with a few Arcade/Story Mode playthroughs, a few training sessions and maybe a look or two through in-game artwork. An obvious buy for Dengeki Bunko fans, but there are also a few things for non Dengeki Bunko fans to enjoy too – 3 stars out of 5. (Valkor’s Note: The game is also available for the Playstation Vita).