Kicking faces in the name of friendship.
HIGH The fighting engine is remarkably solid…
LOW …but doesn’t do enough to set itself apart from the competition.
WTF ‘Seems like my hot super-spicy mapo pot has surpassed you.’
Welcome back to the stage of history! In this particular case, the stage is the Romance of the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. Not that I’m any kind of expert on the matter—all I really learned from my time with Dynasty Warriors was that Zhurong looked pretty awesome demolishing entire battalions with massive fireballs from her fists. I’m guessing it wasn’t an entirely accurate representation of the facts, but hey—neither is Koihime Enbu’s take on things, so everything’s still cool.
Koihime Enbu, despite its twisted historical premise, is a 2D fighting game through and through. It’s one of those efforts which does its best to target the hardcore otaku/anime crowd by having a roster comprised entirely of female characters with a generous helping of moe on the side. At least, I think it’s supposed to be moe. Some of the characters look kinda cool, so possibly not. Ouch! Sick burn, moe fans!
Moe or not, it has to be noted that Koihime Enbu looks surprisingly good. The animation isn’t as silky smooth as I’d like, but the characters are detailed and the lovely backgrounds offer some sort of hand-painted style that pops out impressively. There’s a particular mountain pass that’s incredibly lush and vibrant, and many stages are thematically cool, such as the Red Cliffs sea battle.
The fighting is more grounded in the vein of Street Fighter than the usual doujin hyperaggressive approach associated with brawlers such as Guilty Gear. There are no air dashes, for example, though some of the juggle combos can be brutal if executed correctly. There’s plenty of room to formulate a game plan, but there are also a lot of the usual attacks like dragon punches, fireballs, multi punch combos and EX attacks to power up normal specials. To add even more options, many characters swing massive swords, wield a bow and arrow, or bring in assist characters to help.
One other thing that Koihime shakes up is that pretty much all characters have the exact same super move and desperation inputs, and many of the specials also adhere to these same principles. They won’t result in the same attacks, of course, but the command inputs are standard across the board, so it’s less likely for players dabbling with multiple characters to suddenly forget how to pull off super moves at inopportune moments. Even so, the characters all feel reasonably unique—a similar control scheme doesn’t lead to everyone feeling the same.
Aside from the usual arcade mode that’s in every fighter (except Street Fighter V, of course!) the story mode involves some pretty standard ‘zany’ scenarios pitting the cast against one another. My personal favorite, Gakushin, initially enters the tournament to win an important heirloom, but before long it veers off into odd tangents such as eating spicy foods and taking baths. Unfortunately there’s not enough writing or dialogue to set these events up in an interesting way, so they frequently come across as downright weird more than anything.
There’s also a training mode where sample combos can be accessed and practiced at will, and a gallery where unlocked art and music can be viewed at leisure. Otherwise, there’s not a great deal of other modes or extras to choose from. It’s all about the fighting which is fair enough, but a few long-term hooks for solo players wouldn’t have gone amiss either.
Unfortunately, getting a game going online is difficult. Perhaps I was trying at the wrong times, but when I attempted to find a match at 1 P.M. UK time, I spent fifteen minutes idling in both ranked and casual lobbies with nobody appearing to accept the challenge. Prior to this I managed to locate a few scattered games in the evening, but even during the launch period when most people should be actively playing the game, it seems that jumping in blindly and finding opponents will be fairly uncommon. It’s a shame because the netcode seems entirely solid—at least from my limited ability to test it out.
Koihime Enbu’s a decent little brawler, though it doesn’t do enough to stand out from the crowd apart from its all-female cast. As such, it comes moderately recommended for fighting game enthusiasts who want to jump into something new, but it’s a much harder sell to a more casual demographic.
Disclosures: This game is developed by UNKNOWN GAMES and published by Degica. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC.
Approximately 8 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed with several characters. 1 hour of play was spent in multiplayer modes due to the difficulty of finding matches.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated… hmm. Actually, according to the ESRB it doesn’t exist. There’s a bit of fanservice to some of the characters, but there’s no blood or anything sloshing around the place. Pretty tame stuff overall, so I don’t see much problem with kids playing it.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing: All dialogue is in Japanese, and most of it is subtitled. As a fighting game most information is conveyed visually—I can’t see many problems here for the hard of hearing.
Remappable Controls: Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls for both keyboard and controller. That said… use a controller.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
The chance discovery of a muddy, burnt out copy of '50 Shades of Grey' in a hunting pit gave him an appreciation for complex plots, characters and overarching narrative, and the unexpected gift of a Spectrum 48k allowed him to indulge in these newfound sensibilities with intelligent, highbrow games such as 'flee from the badly animated spinning turquoise dolphins' or 'avoid the deadly glowing bricks of doom'.
The fusion of both these interests finally culminated with Darren teaching himself how to write by basically guessing at what words might look like when jotted down on paper as opposed to being howled inarticulately at the skies.
Now others occasionally get to read his scribblings. Lucky them.