Queen Of Heart 2001: Party's Breaker (Japan)

Year: 2001
Platform: Windows 95/98
Genre: Girl fighting
Review Date: 3/16/03
Rating: ***

Another entry in the "Queen Of Heart" anime girl fighting series, although this one mostly features characters from Leaf's doujinshi-themed "Comic Party" title. While the game still utilizes the "Asuka 120% Burning Fest" engine, the graphics and visual effects have been snazzed up considerably - to the point where I had to buy a new video card just to play the game. The premise is nothing new - impossibly cute anime styled high school girls with superhuman fighting abilities beat the living hell out of each other to win a non-descript martial arts tournament. Each of the girls has a fighting specialty related to her hobbies and interests. For example, Mizuki Takase (my favorite character) uses a tennis racket to fight with and can summon blazing tennis balls for devastating attacks. Other girls hurl boxes, CDs, and fans, and one of the girls can even use her cape to deadly effect. It's all very cute and fun, and the fighting animations are a visual treat. The music is standard Japanese MIDI sounding music that every 2D fighting game seems to have. However, the biggest disappointment is that the characters themselves are rendered in low resolution, while the backgrounds are in high res, causing a noticeable break in continuity. This is what probably allows the game to run at a constant 60fps, but it's visually distracting. Several characters are unlockable as you progress through the game, but I found the original "To Heart" characters much more fun and endearing. Still, fans of fighting schoolgirls should not miss out on this game.

A word of warning, however. American versions of Windows may have trouble installing the game (like mine), which you can get around by ignoring the setup procedure and just copying the entire contents of the CD to your hard drive. Then you can just run the executable directly without any problems (unless your video card is too wimpy). It makes you wonder just what the installer is trying to do in the first place, since most of the install files aren't even necessary...