I’ll be straightforward with you: I suck at fighting games. They aren’t really my strength and forget about tournament play. But even though I’m terrible at them, I just can’t seem to put them down. BlazBlue, Street Fighter IV, Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and the list goes on. A recent addition to the games that I suck at but I love playing anyway is Arcana Heart 3. Solid fighting mechanics, a roster of cute anime girls, and a visual novel style story, what’s not to love about this game?
THEM'S FIGHTING WORDS
Uses Same Netcode as BlazBlue - BlazBlue (BB) had one of the best netcode for online play in any fighting game. It’s no surprise that Arc System Works decided to not only use the same net code for Arcana Heart 3, but decided to also upgrade it a bit making for faster matchmaking and less lag. Even when using a wireless network there was little to no lag during the match, only during the introductions when the girls are talking to each other.
2D Hand Drawn/Animated Sprites - As far as I know, Arcana Heart 3 (AH3) is the only fighter out there that uses hand-drawn 2D sprites. This harkens back to when everything was hand-drawn and animated with the utmost care. Using 2D sprite models in any game is getting rarer and rarer and I’m happy that they went in this direction on the art; it brings back the spirit of the arcade.
Simple Mode - AH3 follows Marvel Vs Capcom 3's lead and includes a simple mode button configuration for those who want to get right in on the action and not feel left out. Beginners are able to pull off signature, special and ultra like moves with ease. This also changes the five button normal layout to an easier four button layout.
Perfect Port With Extras - The arcade version comes home to the PS3 with extras we've come to expect in fighters: replay, training, score attack, it’s all here. Also new to the console version of AH3 are three extra characters and Arcana not in the arcade version; Weiss with Arcana Gottfried, Eko and Kaz with the Arcana Saligrama, and Scharlchrot with the Arcana Baldr. Story mode in the console version is fully voiced in Japanese with English subtitles.
No Upload Feature - A feature first introduced in BB was the ability to save replays on to the system and then upload them to YouTube. That was a great idea. For some reason or another, this feature was left out in AH3. Perhaps it was because this version of AH3 is a digital version and there were memory limitations involved so it couldn’t be added. I’m not totally sure why it was not included, but it was a poor choice.
No Disk - I understand that by going digital it saves Aksys costs and they are also able to reduce the price of the game from the standard $59.99 as a disk to $29.99 as a download. Unfortunately, not everybody has their PS3 online; those that don't will miss out, not to mention the recent PSN downtime. Hell, they could charge the full $59.99 by making the physical copy a limited edition with extra goodies. The point is that there should always be a disk available.
Arcana Heart is a solid fighter that can and has gone toe to toe with other fighting games, being good enough to be used in SBO and EVO. On the downside, though, Aksys should have also given customers a disk option in addition to a digital copy so that fans can choose what to get, and a lack of saving replays as a movie file bring the score down just a bit. On the upside, this is a perfect arcade port with button setups that can satisfy both the pro and the beginner, has great netcode and wonderfully drawn and animated 2D sprites. Arcana Heart 3 is a great addition to the series.