Ikki Tousen Shining Dragon Review

Sadly, not all the short skirts in the world can make this game anything more than a disappointingly shallow novelty.

I got my copy of Ikki Tousen: Shining Dragon last week, and I tried playing it over the weekend.
As expected, this one-player fighting romp puts you in the overly-short skirt of one of the butt-kicking anime babes of the combat-and-fanservice-heavy series. The main diversion is a Story Mode where you pick one of several girls to go through a series of fights. The mode starts with a talking heads-style cutscene (all in Japanese) and basically, an opponent will arrive and challenge you. The fights start with your character facing off against a gang of underlings- schoolgirls, male students and for the later stages, thugs in luchadore masks. Once you beat the cannon fodder, you face off against the actual enemy character in single combat. After every fight, you get points which you can use to upgrade your stats- and it’s pretty vital for you to do so, since enemy peons get stronger as the game goes on.

In terms of looks, the game is clean, if pretty basic. The characters themselves look okay, just not great. The most can be said is that they look like their anime counterparts well enough. The stages are pretty unspectacular, featuring venues like schoolyards and shrines which aren’t that exciting at all to look at. Animation is smooth, if again, unspectacular- all punches and kicks and that’s it.

The controls are pretty basic- you have two attack buttons, a block, a Rage Attack button and a special attack you have to unlock. As far as I can tell, you have no throws or grapples (not even Ryomou has any, and that’s supposed to be her specialty). The Rage Attack can be used once you fill a power meter- once activated by pressing circle, your attacks get stronger and you can’t get thrown off your feet by blows (you still get damaged though). Or you can just press circle again to grab your enemy and do a Special Technique. The Special Rage Attack will kill a normal enemy- do it on another name character and it’ll rip their clothes aside from doing damage.

The fighting is kinda broken- fighting underlings is irritating since blocking is almost useless- you can’t avoid getting hit most of the time as enemies mill around you; Ninja Gaiden this is NOT. It’s just a matter of upgrading your stats after every fight or things will get impossible since the enemies cause far more damage than you can dish out. The best way to go is to keep using Rage mode to power your attacks and just button-mash until no one’s left standing.
Luckily, the actual main opponent characters are pretty braindead- just mash away at square (normal attack) and you’ll do fine; do Rage attacks to rip their clothing, attack, mash, rinse and repeat. You can be as cheap as you want, and you should since often you’ll start at a disadvantage from having to fight the underlings.

Anyways, what’s the point to all this? Finishing Story Mode will unlock special Cosplay modes- which will let you dress up your character (and your opponent) in the ubiquitous Japanese school swimsuit or PE uniform. Unfortunately, there’s not much room or opportunity to appreciate this since the gameplay is so basic and mostly brief- you can’t even appreciate the characters in their ripped outfits, which negates the whole point of having that feature. There’s a Mission Mode, which prolongs gameplay a bit but in the end it’s just more of the same.

Needless to say, this game is almost totally in Japanese; the names of the characters at least are in english, so you can tell who’s who. The Story Mode features lots of dialogue, but really, it all boils down to your girl getting challenged by that other girl because of some other girl attacking that girl posing as your girl. Or something like that.

It’s pretty disappointing to find this game as it is; if only this was an actual fighting game, with every character having unique moves, combos, throws and special attacks, this would be a killer title. Ikki Tousen certainly deserves a true fighting game to its name, rather than this shallow novelty game. As such, I can not recommend this to anyone save the most hardcore of Ikki Tousen fans- though as one myself, while I don’t regret getting the game, I do wish it was better. A lot better.
Everyone else is better off just spending the money on buying the actual Ikki Tousen anime. Lots better fighting and fan service there.

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