It has been a very exciting last couple of years being a fighting game player thanks Valve’s digital distribution platform, Steam. If you wanted to play the latest efforts in the genre from places like China or Japan, you would have to bypass Sony’s PSN region lock by registering a PSN ID from the respective market where the game is able to be published at the moment, follow an online guide to navigate through the now foreign PSN store, activate the prepaid card you purchased from an import website, AND THEN buy a game in which you still needed the same online guide brought up previously to be able find the training and versus modes in the main menu once you launch the game. Thankfully, Eastern publishers are starting to see the benefits on bringing over their catalog to Steam and it is now easier than ever to play games such as Koihime Enbu in the US market.
|The UI is well organized and nice to look at!|
Originally an arcade fighting game, Koihime Enbu was ported to consoles back in January, but only available in Japan. Thanks to publisher Degica Games, an English release is now available here in the West on PC. Now, what this means is that the game itself is mostly the same from its console counterpart. The original text has either been replaced or supplemented with smaller, English text. There’s not a lot of options when it comes to graphics: just an option to set the game either windowed or full-screen mode, plus an stretch filter to try to smooth out the graphics. Thankfully, you can use a separate key configuration tool to set up your DirectInput controllers or arcade sticks before launching the game. Even better if you have an XInput device, since the game supports them automatically which allows you to just plug in and play.
|The Game Configuration Menu|
Going back to the game itself, you have your standard game options you come to expect in most fighting games nowadays; a versus mode that allows you to play against someone next to you, a training mode to practice your execution, a story mode to continue the franchise’s overall story, and online play. There’s also Versus CPU, Replay, and even a gallery. There’s no tutorial mode, but it is to be expected. If you’re used to playing Japanese fighting games you know this comes with the territory. Other than that, the publisher was able to integrate Steam Community features such as trading cards, backgrounds and emoticons. A nice little upgrade from the console release to keep players interested.
[Note: There are websites such as Dustloop (http://dustloop.com) or the Mizuumi Fighting Game Wiki (http://wiki.mizuumi.net/w/Koihime_Enbu) that can assist you in learning the mechanics of this game.]
|The Main Menu|
The game play is similar to most anime fighting games currently available, it even features the same A/B/C and special button layout. You’re able to choose over 13 different characters, but every one of them follow the same commands when it comes to execution. What this means is that the learning curve when learning a characters is much lower which can allow you to play more characters faster. Additionally, you are able to choose one of two assists that act more as a special move rather than a separate character, which changes the perspective of the game from a team based game to more of a traditional 1 on 1 setting in which you’re allowed to choose over two special move before a match. A major game play mechanic in this game is the Fatal Counter system, which gives you access to certain moves that have special properties when used correctly. This turns the game into more a Street Fighter type of fighting game, where you will need to mind your spacing and footsies, no need to worry about air-dashing here.
|“Dat hitbox doe”|
With its cute art style and surprisingly deep game play system, Koihime Enbu is a fine addition to Steam’s ever-growing list of fighting games options. Not a game to be recommended for the starting fighting game fan due to its confusing story and lack of information on how to learn the game, but one that any experienced player or fan of the Koihime Musou series should definitely check out. As a PC port, I believe it does the job well, no issues or bugs were to be found upon launching and playing the game. Do be aware that the online mode was not able to be tested for this review, so your mileage may vary once the game goes live. Koihime Enbu will be available on May 19th on Steam for $40 on release, let us know if you’ll pick it up (or if you already got a waifu selected).