Friday, July 20, 2018

Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai Review (PS4)

Part of the reason why I bought a PlayStation 4 was so that I could play anime games like Koihime Enbu that will never appear on Xbox. As luck would have it, just as I was about ready to pull the trigger to import it an updated release was announced for the West, at a bargain price no less, and I was finally able to play it. Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai is an all-female 2D fighting game with a fantastic cast, great artwork, and intuitive and accessible gameplay that is everything I had hoped it would be. The busty all girl cast ensures it won't be for everyone, but if you like the Koihime Musou franchise or just want a new fighter to check out, Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai is absolutely worth a look.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Degica Co., Ltd.
  • Developer: Unknown Games, BaseSon
  • ESRB Rating: "T" for Teen
  • Genre: Fighting
  • Pros: Great cast; nice presentation; easy to get into fighting mechanics; price
  • Cons: No tutorial; no story mode
  • MSRP: $20
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Of the (many) anime series that replace male historical figures with giant-breasted women, Koihime Musou's take on the Three Kingdoms era of China is easily my favorite. The art is great and the characters are awesome so it's a ton of fun to watch. It has to be noted, however, that while the franchise was originally built around hentai games in Japan, it is much better known in the West (and why I'm familiar with it, I swear) for the three-season anime, which isn't hentai at all (still pretty ecchi, though). Truth be told, this game, Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai, is fairly tame and isn't actually nearly as fanservice-y as some other fighters.

Kohime Enbu was originally released on Steam and PS4 in Japan in 2016. Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai is an updated version of that game available to download in the West at a very appealing $20 price point. It includes an extra character over the first release, bringing the roster up to 14, and also allows any strategist assist character to be used with any fighter (in the original you could only use strategists from the same faction as you fighter). One other change over the original release is that RyoRaiRai no longer has a story mode, but it does have most of the other modes you'd expect - arcade mode against the CPU, online and local multiplayer, and a training mode. Some folks might think the roster of 14 characters is too small but, considering the source material, I think the roster is more than enough. Most of the main characters that actually fight are present, so I'm pretty happy with it even if there are a couple of memorable side characters I would of liked to see.

Gameplay wise, Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai is fairly simple, but it also has some strategic elements that offer some surprising depth. There are only three attack buttons, plus a special button, and that's it. All of the characters basically have the same inputs - QCF, QCB, dragon punch motion, etc. - and supers and special moves are activated the same way for each character. This makes it seem overly simplistic, but the actual moves and reach and potential combo strings can be different for each character, so there is still plenty of learn. What this does is it makes the game very easy and intuitive to pick up while still offering plenty of variety.

From a mechanical perspective, RyoRaiRai is interesting in that normal attacks are almost useless as they do very little damage. What the normal attacks do accomplish however, is that landing them give you the green light to start doing super moves and combos so you can actually do some damage. The reason for this is that blocking is crazy good in Koihime Enbu. In technical terms you are plus on attack (so keep attacking) but minus on block (if your attack is blocked and you try to attack again, you're actually penalized and your opponent has a counter window). This gives fights an interesting flow and feel compared to other games because you're constantly playing footsies and probing for openings or waiting for a counterattack rather than just going for outright offense.

Aggression can still be rewarded, however, thanks to the Fatal Counter system. Landing certain strong attacks lead to your opponent being crumpled, which you can then link into other moves after a launcher, wall bounce, or ground bounce for long combos and massive damage. Your opponent is helpless during this state, so as long as you can execute the linking moves properly you can rack up huge damage and some very flashy and cool looking combos. Because of the blocking and counterattacking core of the game, however, you have to be careful when you try to go for these types of attacks because they can be punished if you miss. Whiff punishing is actually another huge part of the game as missed normal attacks have a huge recovery window that give your opponent a lot of time to launch their own counter.

There's more to the game, but that's the general gist of it. It plays fairly differently from most other 2D fighters, and is a lot different from other anime fighters like NitroPlus Blasterz or ArcSys' games. Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai doesn't seem as complex on the surface, so it is easy to pick up and play, but it has a lot of depth for those that want to seek it out. I do wish it had a proper tutorial mode to actually teach you all of the more advanced techniques, but there are plenty of YouTube videos to teach you that stuff, which I highly recommend you check out.

The presentation in Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai is very nice all in all. The visuals are clean and great looking with nicely detailed characters and generally fantastic animation. It isn't as fanservice-y as it could have been, at least compared to the anime, as there are the obligatory panty shots and breast jiggle, but the costumes are surprisingly tame (except new character Choryo, perhaps) and their clothes don't disintegrate (at all) at the slightest touch like they do in the anime. The sound is also well done with the same (as far as I can tell ...) voice actresses as the anime.

I have to say that I'm pretty darn happy with Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai. It looks and sounds great, features the cast of characters I love, and has fantastic "easy to learn, hard to master" gameplay that is a ton of fun. The $20 price point is absolutely perfect as well. People that object to busty anime girls won't like it, of course, but anyone else looking for a new fighting game on PS4 should definitely give Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai a look.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.