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Vanguard Princess review

4 posts in this topic

Let me start off by saying that I am a fan of fighting games, ever since I first played Street Fighter 2 on SNES.  I've played a lot of good ones (Mortal Kombat, BlazBlue, Skullgirls, Tekken, Soul Caliber), and some bad ones (Fighter Maker 2, Bloody Roar 4, Deadliest Warrior: The Game).  I may not have played every fighting game under the sun (still have yet to play Injustice as of this review as an example), but I do know my stuff about fighting games.


Vanguard Princess was a find on Steam that I picked up at launch for $3.75 (the full retail is now $5).  I've heard good thing about it, so I wanted to check it out.  In the game's defense, there is some good mechanics here...


But then I'm going to need to get harsh here.  In it's current state, Vanguard Princess is a very hard game for me to recommend.  It's not terrible (I have played a LOT worse), but there is a lot holding it back.


First off, let's talk the menu.  All you get is "Story Mode", and "Verses Mode".  That's it.  No Practice Mode, no Verses AI Mode, not even an in game options menu.  The only way to get to the options is to play the game in windowed mode.  And even then, all you get is control options and window size.  I know this is an indie game and all, but the complete lack of options makes this a bit of a hard pill to swallow.


And speaking of window size, this game dose not scale well.  I'm playing this game on an HD 1366 x 768 screen, and it looks like a compressed PS1/Saturn game.  That's because the game was originally built for smaller resolution screens, so resolution will suffer if you try to play this full screen.  Not to mention that this game will stretch to fit your screen, as it doesn't use black bars on the sides of the screen.  Also, in full screen mode, you cannot access the options menu, or even quit the game normally (as the only way to quit the game in full screen is to hold all the buttons while paused, or Ctrl+Alt+Delete).  Despite this, the game runs at a smooth clip, on par with other 2D fighters.


The controls, although responsive, are not well placed.  Movement on the keyboard for Player 1 is by default mapped to T, H, B, and F.  Not only dose this feel unnatural, but it's also too close to the attack buttons (A, S, and D), which may cause some problems.  As for using a gamepad, using an Xbox 360 controller is hard as you need to reconfigure the controls to make it work (and not a single button is mapped to the pause function by default).  Not to mention that unless you're using 3rd party software, the D-pad doesn't work at all, nor will many arcade sticks (I used the Hori Tekken 6 arcade stick, and though the buttons worked, the stick did not, despite working with other games).


As for the game itself, the mechanics in here are at least solid.  The support function reminds me of Arcana Heart in some ways, only to a lesser extent (support is mapped to a single button, and the direction you hold determine what attack it will use).  There is also a dedicated parry button, which is something not many fighting games do.  However, the moves are not explained well in the game (they give you an overview of your main character's on the select screen, but that's about it).  Not to mention that how the attacks are labeled can be confusing at first (as they're called Light, Normal, and Heavy in the options, but A, B, and X in game).


I also want to talk about how the game's difficulty is very unbalanced.  Even in Mortal Kombat 2, one of the hardest fighting games I played, I can at least get to the third fight before the game becomes difficult (somewhat unfairly so).  In this game, I can get my ass handed to me by THE FIRST OPPONENT, ON EASY MODE!  This is due to one character, Lilith, spamming her grapple attack, which is very hard to avoid, and most characters will fight her right away (Lilith will sometimes feel like Shao Khan or Alpha 152).  The AI will feel very cheap on a few characters (the final boss especially, but that's a given), and really needs to be balanced more so that they don't use cheap exploits.


As for online play, as of right now, it dose not exist.  There is a campaign going on right now to add it as a free DLC later on, but as it stands, you cannot play this game online with other people.  I can't hold it against them, since they are working on it, and I don't play fighting games online a whole lot like I use to.  But a lot of people will find this unacceptable.


Character design has been a sore spot for a lot of people.  Some people like the designs.  Others think it's just cheap anime porn.  Let me clarify something here, anime porn (or Hentai as it's called), still requires acts of sex and full frontal nudity to be considered porn.  This doesn't have anything like that whatsoever.  The worst you'll get is some panty shots (and only if you get the "Director's Cut" DLC, which all it dose is remove the censor shadows on the skirts).  And believe me, there is a lot worse than this on Teen rated games (Record of Agares War come to mind for a game that REALLY pushes the Teen rating).  Hell, some of the "mature" content you'll see on this game is only for a split second, and only if you're really looking for it.  Besides, if you are even remotely familiar with anime, this is just par for the territory, and is not as big of a deal as some of the people on Steam are making it.  Although I do find it odd that there is an ESRB warning, but the game has no rating as of yet.


The biggest complaint people have had is the price point of $5.  How is this a problem?  Well, the Japanese version, which has a fan made netcode, is free.  That's right.  FREE.  I can already see everyone getting their pitchforks and torches over this.  But here's the thing.  This is an official, stable release of the game for the US, that can be improved over time.  The Japanese version may not work for all computers (Japanese language games can cause problems on some US computers), and the fan made netcode is not really safe to use I understand.


But I need to call it like I see it.  In it's current state, this game is a very hard recommendation for me.  There is good here.  Mechanics are solid, and the sprite work is great, but there is way too much holding it back.  I say wait until this game is patched for balance, and the official netcode released.  Until then, it's not worth it.


Final grade: C-

The Good: Good simple mechanics, great animated sprite work.

The Bad: Graphics don't scale well on high resolution screens, no netcode, broken AI, no real options menu, horrible controller support.

Sol Omega likes this

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As for practice mode, there's a hidden code to unlock it in versus mode.

Gotta press the P key when you're fighting to activate it, and then the E key to get infinite meter.


Shouldn't need a hidden mode... but whatever.

Also, you can play as the final boss unlike the free versions as far as I know.

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I loved the game and i'll let you guess who my main character was :P

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