Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle Review
The allure of cutesy anime girls is too enticing to ignore a new fighting title released by NIS America titled Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle. CUBETYPE brings this new installment of a series originally based on the Touhou shoot-em-up series to the PlayStation 4 with high hopes of creating something in the same universe but also a part from it. It’s set in 3D worlds with 2D-drawn cutscenes and features the girls as they investigate a series of unfortunate happenings around their world that’s being framed on Reimu, one of the main cast. Players will adventure around the world battling the rest of the roster and solve the mystery. It is currently priced at $39.99 in both physical and digital versions. Will this title be something significant from the series traditional bullet hell genre?
Interesting concept: Battles take place on a 3D field that allows for over-the-shoulder fighting to happen. There are a variety of maps but it all comes down to a square arena with background scenery. The developers at CUBETYPE had an good idea going and did a decent job at creating balance between the fighters. There are girls who favor magic over hand-to-hand combat while others the opposite or a balance of both. There’s magic to this world, talismans, and a variety of spells that each of these girls can utilize and it’s interesting to see. Players can neutralize the enemy’s magical attack with their own and gain magic energy to perform their Ultimate (which isn’t explained how to do) and I found this genuinely inventive as it becomes a strategic mechanic to dole out some damage with different magics that spend less energy and make the opponent use more of theirs. There’s definitely a flow to the combat but it’s just negated by all the other downsides.
Cutesy girls and their interactions: Every girl is cute, have unique designs, and display different attacks according to what they’re best at. The drawn versions of them look appealing and will draw in the anime-loving crowd out there. Cutscenes show how each of them converse with one another and their individual opinions on certain characters that gives them some life instead of being made up of shrill squeaks during battle. The voice actors did a great job at making most of them sound different and it’s probably one of the more admirable traits of this game. Their “chibi” models are sub par at best as they capture the overall look and design of the character while compressing it into bigger-headed versions of the drawn characters but still appear as though they are from an older game. Is this due to them worrying about better models possibly making the game chug or just not enough time spent on developing them?
Needed more funding/bigger development team: It seems as though, from the ending credits, that the team wasn’t big enough or well-funded enough to give a better looking fighting game. Although they did their best (and we see that they try to deliver on a fun adventure), we’re given something that seems rushed and not crafted with enough creativity. Each character has different move styles and attacks but fundamentally all the player will see is the shoddy effects, plain-looking stages/models, and clunky movement.
Story-lines all revolve around the same thing: From the few that’s been played it’s pretty obvious that, although interactions and the script will be different for each character you play, it all revolves around finding out about the last boss you have to take down. This last boss is the same in every playthrough no matter who you use and is pretty disappointing. Each character undergoes their own investigation that leads them to this but it doesn’t present anything different. The main formula seems to be to enter a new area, talk briefly with a new girl, battle them whether they’re friends or not, and be guided to the next area to rinse and repeat. There could have least been some sort of mini-games or maybe a choice system for the Story mode to bring you to a different end boss.
No tutorial: It’s well-known that fighting games require a tutorial and this game has zero help in learning the mechanics. Although the gameplay is simple to grasp with some trial, error, and pushing a bunch of different buttons it would have still been nice to have included something that at least explains how to do an Ultimate attack.
Camera is nauseating: It’s hard to follow the girls during a battle session and it’s clear from the get-go. While fighting at a distance it’s difficult to track the opponent while fighting with direct contact sends the camera off in all kinds of directions. It’s not only nauseating to try to keep up with but also infuriating when it benefits the computer into blasting you with attacks while you’re trying to track them. This makes working your way through every character’s Arcade mode and Story mode a chore and not something that’ll be interesting enough to grind out Score Attack.
Trophies push you to play for hours and hours: Throughout many imported titles from Japan are tedious Trophies that include getting a large score of some kind with each character in a Score Attack mode and pretty much doing everything. This is not only exhausting in a well-crafted fighting game or RPG but unacceptable to do in this one as it’s mind-numbing and frustrating. There are some for multiplayer, as well, so hopefully any Trophy hunter out there will be able to find someone else who’s bought the game to be able to pump this one out.
Uneventful multiplayer lobby: Players will need to create rooms in order to bring any kind of opponent across the PSN. It’s pretty simple looking and doesn’t introduce anything innovative such as a ladder system or King of the Hill setting like in Mortal Kombat X. For the most part it’s stable and there’s no lagging between players but this is most likely due to it not being very active.
Graphics/sounds look like PS2 graphics: Although the art looks promising and may make the player hopeful towards decent fighting models we’re instead given “chibi” characters that don’t meet up to snuff with current-gen titles. There are many out there that use chibi models but this title looks and sounds like it belongs on a PlayStation 2 game. There’s no smooth surfaces on any of the models and some of the stages look laughable and clunky as if a first year graphics design student used Unity for the first time. Sound effects throughout the title sound two-bit, as well, as they aren’t cleaned up. The end boss sounds ridiculous as CUBETYPE was trying to go for a mechanical and silly voice but it sounds downright idiotic.
Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle isn’t a title for anyone to bust into and grind out hours on, even for fighting game veterans or Trophy hunters. It chugs and looks like an older game to only aggravate the player with its shoddy camera tracking and sub par graphics. The team really tried their best but more creativity or funding seemed to be needed to create a more engrossing experience. The artwork looks great and the girls are uniquely designed but it doesn’t detract away from the title being this bad. Anybody who loves the Touhou series may want to grab this when it’s discounted significantly just to see the story and the fun interactions but they most likely won’t want to stay long.
I’ll also note that I didn’t get to try the PlayStation VR aspect of the title due to lacking the peripheral but it’ll pretty much be all the same but through an immersive viewpoint, instead.
Try It Out
Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle was developed by CUBETYPE and published by NIS America. It was released for PlayStation 4 [reviewed] on October 10th, 2017 in North America and October 13th in Europe. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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