Koihime Enbu

Year: 2016
Platform: PlayStation 4
Genre: Fighting
Review Date: 8/10/17
Rating: ***

"Koihime Enbu" is an anime-styled fighting game based on a visual novel that reimagines the classic "Romance Of The Three Kingdoms" story with an all-female cast of cute teenage girls wearing sexy period costumes. While the gameplay is identical to other visual novel inspired fighting games like "Aquapazza", "Dengeki Bunko", and "Nitro+ Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel", the biggest difference is that the characters and settings all come from the same source. This makes the game much more logical and thematically consistent than other mashup titles.

Each of the three kingdoms features four playable characters and two support characters, and there's a final boss character that's also playable. Each character has strong, weak, and special attacks, as well as throws, counters, and super attacks. The support characters can be called on for additional attacks once your various gauges fill up. Similar to other fighting games, "Koihime Enbu" features Story Mode, Arcade Mode, Versus Mode, Online Mode, and Training Mode. The difficulty can be altered in Arcade Mode, but not in Story Mode. Even on the "easy" setting, Arcade Mode can be overly tough. Each round becomes increasingly more difficult and the final boss is relentlessly brutal. I only managed to beat the final boss once, while most of the time I was defeated without landing a single hit. Both Arcade Mode and Story Mode feature lots of talking head dialogs that set the stage and define the character's relationships to each other. These are tedious and long-winded, and since everything is in Japanese, it's best to bypass them altogether. In fact, the entire game interface is in Japanese, which makes it challenging to navigate. Most Japanese fighting games have at least SOME menus in English, but not this one.

Presentation wise, the game looks and sounds great. The character designs are excellent and convey a cosplayer's sense of elegant and imaginative sex appeal. The high-resolution character animations are gorgeous and smooth, and the combatants are armed with a variety of swords, spears, naginatas, scythes, knives, rings, and arrows. The stages are static, but beautifully rendered and thematically appropriate. The music is innocuous for the most part, but the intro theme song is an outstanding and surprisingly heavy tune that's reminiscent of the "Guilty Gear" series. While "Koihime Enbu" does little to distinguish itself from other games in the genre, I always appreciate playing female-centric fighting games, and especially ones with all-female casts. I'll always go out of my way to support those.