Koihime Enbu: Ryo Rai Rai

Year: 2018
Platform: PlayStation 4
Genre: Fighting
Review Date: 2/2/20
Rating: ***

Also known as "Koihime Enbu Version 2," it's effectively identical to its predecessor, so I'll just review the differences. First of all, the US release has English menu options, which helps considerably. However, the button mappings still use the Japanese layout in several places ("O" for accept and "X" for cancel), which can be confusing. There's no way to back out of the character selection screen, so just remember to use Square for the default color palette. The dialog is still in Japanese, but the story bubbles are translated. Short story elements show up at the beginning and the very end of Arcade Mode, but unlike the original, there's no dedicated Story Mode. Maybe the US publisher decided it was too much talking and too expensive to localize. Regardless, it's not a huge loss.

The gameplay is identical, with a couple of exceptions. Two additional playable characters have been added to the roster, and you can now choose Strategists from any faction, rather than being limited to just your own. That doesn't make any sense from a character and continuity perspective, but it doesn't really affect gameplay. The difficulty is just as punishing as the original and ramps up considerably after the sixth round. I only managed to beat round 8 once during the course of several hours, and amazingly went on to beat the final boss. Having instructions in English also helped tremendously and allowed me to understand the nuances of the Tactics Gauge and how to pull off some fancy finishing moves. As far as anime girl fighting games go, this is definitely one of the better ones out there, and it looks great. The fighting engine is solid and tight, and it certainly makes you work for your victories.