XBLIG Review: Battle High: San Bruno

Characters are not over the top or ridiculous, but they're varied and interesting.

By: David Cooper

At first I was wary of playing a fighting game the same weekend as I received Marvel vs Capcom 3, thinking I would tire of punching people in the face. But after spending a fair amount of time with Battle High: San Bruno, I can honestly say that not only is it a solid fighting game, but also one of the most polished Xbox Live Indie Games I have encountered. It’s only 80 Microsoft Points – quick, if you get it now it’ll have downloaded by the time you read this review!

Battle High: San Bruno is a 2D beat-’em-up from developer Point Five Projects. At its heart it is pure Street Fighter – characters have weak and strong punches, weak and strong kicks, unique combos and specials. Fighting is fairly technical, and you’ll have to know your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses to succeed. There are only eight characters, but they offer a lot of depth in knowing tactics and fundamentals.

The game has somewhat of a throwback appearance, staying fairly low-res with its backgrounds and sprites. However, the sprites are quite detailed and beautifully animated, meaning the game never looks ugly. It is difficult to tell whether the graphics are intended as homage to older fighters, or whether this is the limit of the artists’ capabilities, but either way, it works. My only criticism of the graphics is that there is no widescreen support during gameplay – menus fill the screen but fights take place in a smaller 4:3 box within, which detracts from the experience a little.

The characters are typically varied for a game of this nature – some are fast, some are strong and heavy, some have projectiles, some are defense focused, etc. That said, playing through arcade mode told me their back stories and I found myself more engrossed than I expected. A lot of care has been taken to develop relationships between these characters, even if it is only shown through 30-second conversations before fights.

I admit I’m not the most experienced fighting game aficionado, but the mechanics on Battle High: San Bruno seemed easy to pick up and difficult to master, a sign of a good competitive game. Once I had learned which attacks worked well in different situations, as well as a couple of special moves for each character, I found fighting extremely satisfying. While I would probably fail horribly against an expert, it was very rewarding to win bouts without it seeming too easy.

Controls are quick and responsive, ideal for a game of this nature. While the Xbox 360’s notoriously shaky d-pad continues to be terrible, Battle High: San Bruno works surprisingly well with the analog stick. I had no problems with directional combos, and as a result activating specials was simple and satisfying. While losing matches is frustrating, it never feels like the game’s fault.

Regrettably I was not able to try out the local multiplayer, which is a shame. Between two fighters who know what they are doing, I imagine games could potentially be spectacular. The mechanics of fighting games are what makes for interesting matchups, and Battle High: San Bruno‘s are strong enough to make matches more that just button mashing, but a true battle of wits.

My biggest complaints with the game are not faults of the game itself necessarily, but more a checklist of what could be added in future productions. Online play would be a great boost, as well as more characters and moves. Keep in mind that this is an indie production though, and for one dollar it is hard to bash the game for features it doesn’t have. Hopefully a sequel can advance things further, perhaps adding a real competitor to the fighting game ring.

OVERALL (4.5/5)

Battle High: San Bruno will never attract the huge crowds given its indie status, but it is slick and polished, and definitely worth your time. With a few minor improvements it could even make the jump from XBLIG to XBLA – check it out and give it the recognition it deserves.

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About Herija Green

Avid gamer, adventurous lover and all-around damned handsome man...
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38 Responses to XBLIG Review: Battle High: San Bruno

  1. ColdBlood@CAG says:

    My favorite fighting game of all time is “Virtual Fighter 2” played on a arcade cabinet(not Sega Saturn). But my favorite console fighting game of all time is “Super Street Fight 2”

  2. Dr0py says:

    All time favorite is Street Fighter IV.
    @Dr0py

  3. SpaceBabs says:

    My favourite fighting game is Killer Instinct on Snes. My cousin and me had so much fun with this one back then. It was always Glacius Vs Cinder (me being Glacius of course ^_^)

  4. kevin says:

    all time favorite has to be mortal kombat
    Twitter follower @k3v81

  5. Ben Rudolph says:

    I have to second Killer Instinct. The Nintendo was top dog when I was a huge gamer. For me it offered a darker more polished fighting game then SF. Almost a mix of SF and Mortal Combat.

  6. Jarrod says:

    Favorite fighting game is Mortal Kombat 2.
    @grydersmith

  7. Eric says:

    original Mortal Kombat is my favorite fighter!

    twitter follower: @starkeee

  8. Thomas Paredes says:

    My favorite all-time would be Tekken Tag. I still remember going through the arcade on one-play. Law & Eddy = Awesome!
    @Killabee_Skillz

  9. James says:

    My favorite and only fighting game i have ever played is Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
    Follow @jragon274

  10. Angelica Paredes says:

    I would have to say Mortal Kombat II.
    @Tomelica

  11. SEGA Scream says:

    There are so many great fighters, but Time Killers is my favorite fighting game that I love to hate.

  12. Clark says:

    I’d say Soul Calibur II is my favorite fighter.

  13. yh says:

    Mortal Kombat Armageddon

    @_yousufhussain_

  14. Paul K says:

    All time favorite would have to be Street Fighter 3 ^^
    thanks for the contest
    @genxsis83

  15. Chronorayven says:

    I’d have to go with Killer Instinct 😛
    @Chronorayven

  16. TomaszewskiArek says:

    Street Fighter 4
    @pic3k

  17. David says:

    Killer Instinct of course!
    @doubleD215

  18. Alex R says:

    Favorite fighting game is Tekken 3….so much nostalgia.

    Twitter: @arahal88

  19. ropes says:

    Street Fighter 2 Turbo is my favorite fighting games

    @ropes

  20. Slavik Ribz says:

    My all time fighter game has to be Soul Calibur II.

    @RandomTwelve

  21. Kiros1 says:

    Battle Arena Toshinden.

  22. jay says:

    My All time fighting favorite is killer instinct

    @DirasyajX

  23. Snookie says:

    Nice review, I’m constantly surprised by the quality games that can be discovered in the Indie Games section. People should give them a shot, they just might surprise themselves. Pity you didn’t have an opportunity to try local multiplayer though, since that’s something that appeals to me. Anyway, I’m gonna go old school here and say my favorite fighting game is Fatal Fury.

    Thanks for the opportunity. =)

  24. Andami says:

    MK: Deception Free roaming plus fighting equals awesome!

    Twitter – @Andami

  25. Andrew Huynh says:

    My favorite fighting game is ”Dead or Alive 4”. Played this at my uncle’s house before he gave it to me and he gave me the console 😀

  26. DevilMayCry says:

    The Marvel vs Capcom series will always have a place in my heart. 2 was one of my favorites because of the wide variety of characters.

  27. GreatEsse says:

    Favourite fighting game all time? i think Guilty Gear XX #Reload, but i enjoy any fighting game really

  28. Doug says:

    I liked Street Fighter 2!

  29. Mario says:

    My favorite was Street Fighter 2, i remember the first game i got for my supernes when i was a kid was this awesome games from capcom, still keep my copy at hand 🙂

  30. Andrew says:

    My favorite fighting game is Street Fighter 2.

  31. summer98763 says:

    Super Street Fighter 2. good times. 🙂

  32. Liquid-X says:

    My favorite is Marvel vs Capcom 3. It’s got Deadpool.

  33. coneecheewa says:

    My favorite is Mortal Kombat! Sub-Zero ftw!

  34. Kirby says:

    Favorite fighting game is Dead or Alive

  35. totoguy says:

    Rival Schools 2 for the dreamcast… Still hoping for a sequel.

  36. James says:

    Street Fighter of course

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