BLADE ARCUS from Shining: Battle Arena – Review
Follow Genre: Action, 2D Fighter
Developer: Studio Saizensen
Publisher: Studio Saizensen
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

BLADE ARCUS from Shining: Battle Arena – Review

Site Score
Good: Not overly complicated, really easy to pick up and play
Bad: The AI isn't hugely challenging
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(1 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Do you like beating the crap out of everyone that crosses your path? Freezing them solid and slicing them up with your magic sword? How about stabbing them with your transforming knife-hands whilst you plot to destroy the world? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should really check out BLADE ARCUS from Shining: Battle Arena…. And see a psychologist.20160831232809_1Story

The narrative itself is rather short, but is told across several perspectives depending on which character you pick when playing in story mode. The story revolves around 7 legendary orbs that have been released from their seal and spread across the land to inhabit “strong” individuals. If a character beats someone with an orb, they take that orb for themselves. Upon collecting all the orbs, the legend states that you can make a wish.

Your character choice has a large influence on exactly what piece of the story that you will encounter, as each character has their own ambitions and roles to play. To get the full picture of what exactly is at stake, you will need to play through story mode with several different characters. And whilst the goal itself never really changes (collect all of the orbs and claim your wish) there are deeper motivations behind it for each character, and 16 different characters to play with.20160831232045_1If you choose Ryuga, for example, you will encounter the tale of the young man who broke the seal on the orbs in pursuit of power. Your story will revolve around your friends trying to stop you, and the sacrifices you must make for power. Whereas if you play as Isaac, the nefarious force that has been secretly pulling all the strings, you will embark on a journey of hatred and destruction, with everyone desperate to stop your evil plans.


The art style is excellent, as would be expected from artwork created by the illustrious Tony Taka. The backgrounds are great but it is the character design where the game really shines. If you’re unfamiliar with the Shining universe; expect to see all manner of humans and creatures, all brought to life in the traditional Shining anime style. As you might expect, the matches themselves quickly become a maelstrom of flashes, blows and special moves, so be prepared for big blooms of colour and explosions of light to denote the destruction being unleashed.20160831230837_1Sound

The story mode is fully voiced in the original Japanese voices, which is a big plus for all of you purists out there. The sound effects during the battles are adequate and the music is good enough to slowly create an epic-battle type atmosphere, without getting annoying. Each of the characters often also has a rant at the other before the battle begins, but without subtitles don’t expect to know what on earth they’re saying unless you happen to speak Japanese. They also have individual battle cries that they will yell to denote special moves, and whilst the attention to detail is great, the cries soon get annoying when you meet an opponent that spams a particular move.20160831230819_1Gameplay

Arcade fighter Blade Arcus is everything you might expect from a 2D fighting game. You have the tested method of light, medium and heavy attack buttons, with moving backwards acting as a block that will significantly reduce any damage you take. Each character has it’s own move-set and special attacks but there is a fairly large overlap between characters. Once you can play one character reasonably well, you will often find other characters with the same or very similar combinations for their own moves. Mostly, success is all about making circles or half circles with the analogue stick, timed with an attack button.

Blade Arcus has 4 main gameplay modes: Story, Versus, Training and Online. Training mode allows you to study your characters move-list and gives you a chance to practice learning their combos. Almost all of the characters have rather small move-lists, especially when you compare them to some other games within this genre. Having said this however, some experimentation will allow you to discover that all of the characters seem to have some combos that are not visible from the move-list screen.20160831232921_1The story mode obviously allows you to experience the narrative, where your chosen character will fight several others, with cut-scenes in-between that explain why you are fighting each other. The finale has you facing your own doppelgänger, who will attempt to use all of your own techniques against you. Games within this genre often have an intense learning curve for the single-player mode, where you quickly progress from winning easily to fighting ridiculously strong AI opponents. Whilst Blade Arcus thankfully doesn’t suffer from this, it has unfortunately gone too far the other way. The AI is very easy to beat on Normal mode, so much so that you may struggle to lose even one round to an opponent. You will have to dial up the difficulty to Hard or Very Hard if you want any sort of challenge.20160831230709_1Versus mode is the classic fight against a local human or computer opponent, and Online unsurprisingly allows you to take the fight to other players via the internet. With all the battles, you must fight against your enemy until one of you is defeated, or time runs out. One of you must win three times in total to be declared the victor, with bonus prestige awarded for winning without taking any damage for a round (a perfect round). If you’re at all experienced with arcade style fighting games, then all of this should seem very familiar.20160831232446_1One of the more unusual mechanics is the addition of a support character that you can select to tag in, at the start of each round. Before each round of fighting begins, you must select whether to use your primary or support character as your main character for the round, which allows you to play more intelligently. Are you struggling to get in close to use your characters short range abilities? Switch to your support character who has long range attacks. You also fill up a support meter as you fight which can be used to summon your second character to the field and briefly lash out at your opponent. This can be exceptionally useful to relieve the pressure at critical moments or even turn the tide if you are getting battered into a corner.20160831230944_1Conclusion

Fans of the Shining series will love this title for the ability to play with characters that they know and love. But even if you’re not a fan of the anime, Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena is an excellent example of the fighting genre. Whilst you could complain about the limited move-sets, or the short story, it is very easy to pick up and play, making it an excellent local multiplayer game when you have friends over, as well as a lot of fun. Likewise the inclusion of a working online mode on steam, where you can sometimes actually find opponents, is a godsend. All in all, if you’re a fan of the genre, it is well worth picking up.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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BLADE ARCUS from Shining: Battle Arena - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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