App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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As a self-professed lover of all things weird in video games I was anxious to see what this “choose your own adventure fighting game” from GAMEVIL was all about. After mucking about with several different modes and characters I’ve come to a definitive conclusion: I absolutely love it despite all the weirdness, strange design choices, and flaws. Whether or not anyone shares this opinion depends a great deal on what non-fighting game elements (if any) they like to see in their fighting games.
The meat and potatoes portion of Asura Cross is the story mode. Players control the actions of Jin, a former soldier, as he’s dragged into a wacky web of intrigue against his will. The story is localized reasonably well for the most part, but my goodness is it weird. Aliens and vampires are where it all starts. But while the plot in somewhat insane, progression is fairly straightforward. Players read along with the story and characters and are occasionally given choices to make which can alter the course of the plot as well as change up the encounters. These encounters themselves involve a rather simple fighting game system with a number of small RPG-like character upgrades that can be made using points earned through various means.
Since I like weird so much it’s no surprise that I enjoyed the whole "adventure game meets fighting game" thing. However I’m also rather fond of the simplified fighting game mechanics. Attacks are chained together by holding buttons rather than mashing them, and all of the moves are contextualized based on direction rather than complex motions (i.e. quarter-circles and such) that are difficult to pull off with a virtual stick. There are also a fair number of characters to play as at various points in the story or in one of the myriad of bonus modes, and each one feels totally unique. Similarly, they can be upgraded individually using points earned through play; giving them new special attacks, boosted regeneration, increased damage, etc.
I’m not naïve enough to think that the simple fighting mechanics will win over everyone, though. Hardcore fighting game fans will most likely detest the overly simple controls and systems as well as the comparatively small roster of fighters. In a more general sense it’s also a disappointment that earning Asura Points (needed to upgrade, etc) takes a ridiculous amount of work. I mean seriously, I beat the Arcade Mode and earned one. One. Simply purchasing a new character color costs 30.
Asura Cross probably won’t win over fighting game aficionados, and it’s bizarre enough that it could turn away casual players, but fans of the quirky and weird should have a lot of fun with it. It’s a bit rough around the edges, and my word is it stingy with the points, but it’s still very much a strange journey worth taking.