Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday VS Magazine: Shūketsu! Chōjō Daikessen

When I first got into Anime all those years ago, I never knew it would become a major part of my life. Once I had that first experience, I couldn't get enough. It eventually got to the point to where after I watched an Anime that I really liked, I would try to find other mediums in the franchise. And with the internet, I was introduced to the source of many Anime, Manga. Manga took my love of reading comic books and Anime and created something that would stay with me, even to this day.

In 1959, two shōnen manga magazines were published: Kodansha released Weekly Shōnen Magazine on March 17th, and Shokakugan released Weekly Shōnen Sunday shortly after on April 5th. Both magazines featured popular titles: Shonen Magazine had Great Teacher Onizuka and Devilman (and is currently featuring Fairy Tail), while Shonen Sunday had Inuyasha (currently featuring Detective Conan and Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple). Despite being two different magazines, the two were very close rivals, and many artists, like Ozamu Tezuka and Rumiko Takahashi were happy to claim them as their home. In a rare event due to the closeness of the two magazine's founding dates, Weekly Shōnen Magazine and Weekly Shōnen Sunday released a special combined issue on March 19, 2008. In addition, other commemorative events, merchandise, and manga crossovers were planned for the following year as part of the celebrations.

Sunday VS Magazine: Shūketsu! Chōjō Daikessen was one of these collaborations. Published by Konami for the Playstation Portable in 2009, it marked the 50th anniversaries of both magazines. This 2.5D crossover fighter features 30 fighters from the world of Manga. Now I like to think of myself as very knowledgeable about Anime and Manga, but there were a lot of characters that I hadn't heard of before playing this. This only made me want to learn about each of these characters and their stories. Speaking of which, there's no semblance of a story here. It would have been nice to know what brought these characters together to defeat the original character Boss (no, seriously, that's his name), but nope. Just an all-out fantasy brawl. Not that there's anything wrong with that; Who wouldn't jump at the chance to pit Joe against Ippo?

30 characters, some of which you may or may not have heard of.
The fighting system is extremely friendly to beginners, giving you the option to play in Simple Mode and Technical Mode. In Simple Mode, The Square button can be pressed repeatedly to use basic combos, while the Circle, Triangle or a combination of the two buttons performs special attacks. In the Technical Mode, the game takes the traditional Light, Medium and Heavy approach, with directional combination needed to perform moves. The Cross button performs the game's most powerful move, Dodging. Every character has three to four special attacks, and access to a support character. The cool thing is that more can be unlocked, creating some pretty cool combos in game. By pressing the L and R buttons, your character goes into an "Aura Mode", greatly increasing your character's speed and power for a while. Pressing these buttons again with certain characters transforms them into an alternate form, strengthening them even further. In this game there's the standard Arcade, Versus and Training Modes, but there's also the Quest Mode, which practically turns the game into a side-scrolling brawler. In this mode you gain points to unlock more moves for your characters. "My Room" is another mode which lets you track your progress in the game & see the characters you've unlocked.

A nice touch is the ability to select a character to help navigate the menus. I love Asuna!

The fighting in this game looks pretty cool. The graphics looks pretty well for the PSP, and the cel-shaded look fits it well. When entering a fight, you're given a introduction theme of your fighter. During fights, the backgrounds are beautifully animated, perfectly portraying how the original artists would have imagined them to be. The special moves are flashy, and the attacks give the illusion of having that "Oomph". Not to say that there aren't problems with this game. The game seems to run better on certain stages, notably those with less detail. Nothing hurts the immersion of a fighting game like bad framerate, and it's really noticeable here. Another thing is that the characters seem a little unbalanced, especially among the ones with cheap long-range moves. What makes it worse is that there are other special moves that hardly do any damage whatsoever. While for the most part things tend to be even across the board, there are some glaring instances where a move might not exactly seem fair, especially when Simple Mode allows players to spam a special move repeatedly with a single button press.

As an Otaku, I find myself yelling out the names of the attacks at times. Wind Scar!!!

When I first started up the game, I was greeted to a pretty cool opening theme. It really sets the mood. Unfortunately, as much as I tried, I could not find the name of the song. The other sounds are pretty much common fare; voices for characters’ special moves, fighting intros and battle cries, as well as the English-speaking announcer for the menu selection. The rest of the music is very appropriate according to the situation and provide a range of styles that reflect the current environment. Nothing too bad.

Sadly, with the huge variety of series in this game, licensing issues and unfamiliarity can make the journey to the United States next to, if not, impossible. While the game isn't perfect, I found it to be pretty enjoyable for the time I did spend playing it (around 15 hours). That said, the more hardcore fighting game players (I much prefer Tekken) might see this as a little lacking in the mechanic department. Fans of the characters, though will find a reason to enjoy this game. I do have to say this: after playing Sunday VS Magazine, I took the time to check out some of the character's respective stories, and it took my enjoyment to a whole new level upon playing it again. I say give it chance, you might be surprised.

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