Arcana Heart 3: Love Max!!!!! ¦ Game Review

A retro 2D beat-em-up that delivers on wacky characters and simple, effective gameplay

Game Title: Arcana Heart 3: Love Max!!!!!

Publisher: NIS America

Reviewed On: Playstation 3

Available on: Playstation 3,Playstation Vita,Xbox 360

Sun, Dec 7, 2014, 10:20

   

The 2D beat-em-up is an endangered species, but its DNA is everywhere. Recent titans such as the God of War series and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor clearly have their roots in old-school combat games. And games such as Arcana Heart 3: Love Max!!!!! are not going down without a fight.

The Arcana Heart franchise is from the same stable as Blazblue Continuum Shift, and while Arcana Heart 3 is not quite on par with that incredible game, it still has a lot to offer. With an all-female cast of characters, it’s a simple, arcade-style 2D brawler. As any veteran of Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat knows, these games are easy to pick up and play immediately, but have a vast and complicated list of moves to memorise.

While the genre is inherently restricted, Arcana Heart 3 is playable, vibrant and eccentric. The characters all have their own idiosyncrasies, but each one has exaggerated Manga features; enormous eyes and (on some occasions) bodies that defy both biology and physics. Combatants include Catherine Kyoubashi, who fights from within a giant robot (not against the rules, I guess); Angelala Avallone, an angel with a lethal halo and Kira, who sits atop a gelatinous sphere that sprouts fists and legs.

As you’d expect, this game is best enjoyed as a local multiplayer experience, and not for its narrative. Each character has her own story, which is frequently muddled and nonsensical, but hey, it’s not like Mortal Kombat ever challenged Dickens’ legacy. And to be fair, many of the overwrought lines are amusing, such as: “Why don’t you become my faithful soldier and help me conquer the world?”

A relatively unknown franchise in the West, Arcana Heart 3 is limited but agreeable, and should placate retro fighter fans in between Soul Calibur and Street Fighter bouts.