Queen Of Heart '98 (Japan)

Year: 1998
Platform: Windows 95/98
Genre: Girl fighting
Rating: ***

Easily the cutest girl fighting game series I've ever seen. This 2D anime styled fighter uses the "Asuka 120% Burning Fest" engine, and while the gameplay isn't as deep as the "Burning Fest" games, it's still a hell of a lot of fun. Oddly enough, this game takes characters from an adult text adventure/dating simulation game called "To Heart" and pits them against each other in a fighting competition. The girls are extremely cute, and they all have their own uniquely bizarre (and often hilarious) fighting techniques. One girl is a witch who can summon spells and fly around on a broom, another girl has an extremely strong psychic aura and can teleport herself (as well as projectiles) around the screen, and there are girls armed with bows and arrows, incendiary bombs, giant hammers, baseball bats, laser beams, and tennis rackets, as well as a clumsy girl who attacks with her spikey hair. There are also a couple of cyborg girls in the mix, although I can't for the life of me imagine what cyborgs would be doing in a dating simulation game... You start out with ten teenage girls to choose from, and there are possibly two others that can be unlocked. (I haven't verified that yet) The frame rate is fast (on a Pentium II) and the gameplay is slick and tight, making other girl fighting games like "Pretty Fighter X" (1995) and "Advanced V.G." (1997) seem sluggish in comparison. If you like anime and girl fighting games, then this is a must-have game.

The game has spawned at least two sequels, "Queen Of Heart '99: Dream Match Never Ends" (which I can't get to run on my American version of Windows - grrr...) and "Queen Of Heart 2001: Party's Breaker", which feature more impressive visual effects, different Leaf characters, and other secret characters.