By: Uma Smith
The two developers, Arc System Works and Aksys Games, are no stranger to the PlayStation Vita on account of the growing number of fighting titles, including BlazBlue. Now, we have another entrant to the genre called Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!! So how much love are we going to give this one? Let’s find out.
The control scheme behind Arcana Heart 3 is straightforward enough for you to wrap your head around, assuming you play it on a consistent basis. As expected from a fighting title like this, moving your character is executed either via the d-pad or left stick while attacks are assigned to three of the face buttons depending on the degree of strength you require. The remaining button, X, allows you to use energy to carry out an air-based attack. Finally, the shoulder buttons execute what’s called the Arcana attacks along with throwing your opponent.
The real downer is that there is no tutorial available to familiarize you with the controls. But as mentioned earlier, with given time, you too can figure out the controls to the point where you’ll be pulling off combos on your opponents. Additionally, you can re-assign commands to any button, thus speaking to the game’s customization. There is no touch screen usage on the Vita, though it’s not a necessary inclusion.
There is a lot of “love” when it comes to the visuals in Arcana Heart 3. The sprites are colorful, and the animations provide a wonderful display of special particle effects that brighten the screen. One must note that on both edges of the screen, the game has included an optional animated scene of yourself on the left and your opponent on the right. This means the game isn’t utilizing the whole widescreen display during gameplay. Still, the graphics have a lot of shine to keep their energy lively.
There is no English voice acting, so you’ll have to resort to reading the subtitles if you are looking to find out more about the story and dialogue. However, the audio implementations are of high quality when factoring in the exciting soundtrack coupled with the dynamic effects from the various attacks and explosions.
Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!! is one of those titles that keep the spirit of one-on-one, arcade style fighting alive and kicking (and punching). The story involves a mysterious angel collecting celestial stones in an effort to activate a weapon for an evil organization. Depending on the character you choose, the interactions will differ for each rival you face, ala Street Fighter Alpha.
You have the option to choose from 23 angels along with one of 23 Arcana powers to accompany her. The latter vary in terms of effect, including fire to burn your opponents, robots to shoot laser and ice to freeze them in their tracks. While the plentiful number of characters make this game pretty exciting, the Arcana powers do make things confusing.
Luckily, the difficulty increases on a progressive fashion, thus allowing you to appreciate the story without too much frustration along the way. When going through the story mode, you will be facing eight opponents in total, which can feel pretty short if it weren’t for the challenges that help grow the player’s fighting skills.
Just like other modern fighting games, the extra content in Arcana Heart 3 includes the typical time trial and training modes in hopes of keeping players’ attention. There really isn’t anything ground breaking when comparing to other fighter titles, though thankfully the game includes an after-story mode, which gives you more incentive to learn more about the game’s plot and character involvement.
However, if you’re in it for the pure fighting gameplay, then this mode may not be ideal for you. Instead, the online option is available to take on other players and put your skills to the test. It is rather weird that ranking up seems pretty easy despite the number of losses during this mode.
For completionists and fighting enthusiasts, Arcana Heart 3 really delivers in terms of content with new stuff unlocking for every playthrough with a different character. Such things as additional story scenarios, artwork, and animations make their appearances with each successful play.
Although the game can take around a half hour to complete, the huge number of characters will add to your experience. Additionally, you’ll be given the opportunity to try out the different fighting styles and eventually face off against all the characters. Considering how each has their unique personalities and charm, it’s easy to be whisked away by the antics behind this title.
Arcana Heart 3: LOV E MAX!!!!! will draw you in thanks to its exciting gameplay mechanics and plentiful characters. While it won’t appeal to everyone, those who dig the anime-style approach coupled with one-on-one arcade fighting may find their excitement MAXing out!