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Arcana Heart 3: Love Max Review

Though the Vita is often regarded as a forgotten console, bypassed by the larger producers who focus on the home editions of their current AAA titles there are still a few out there that are keeping us portable players happy, unleashing a steady flow of games more suited to the smaller screen like Indy titles, RPG's, platformers and the classic arcade mainstay, the beat em up.

A genre that at one point was full to the brim thanks to the frenzy surrounding Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, the beat em up genre pretty much KO'ed itself but in recent years has steadily been coming back, moving away from the 3D and back to a more 2D approach and giving another chance for old franchises to return to a more suitable console.

What we have with Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!! is a classic approach to the genre, serious fighting action wrapped up in a nonsensical plot involving an all female cast as, for whatever their reasons, are trying to find the source of a series of strange portals appearing all over Japan and somehow harness the power before they destroy the country. Not being familiar with the Arcana Heart series the initial few hours are confusing as to the who's and whys but in all honesty that all gets in the way of a decent scrap, the story finally only starting to make sense after playing through as a few characters, of which there are a lot.

For a newcomer into this game it is very daunting as to what exactly is going on, the four button fighting mechanics are simple enough and are picked up quickly, as are the now reflex-like special move commands but the selection process before each fight is overwhelming, having to select from a huge roster of some 23 fighters and then choosing an Arcana, to which very little is explained as to what purpose these actually serve other than being celestial monsters that boost your fighters powers; but like any other fighter, it is more down to personal tastes than anything else and Arcana Heart 3's strength is in its variety, with each character managing to be a very unique and individual fighter, each with their own move sets to learn like Scharlachrot who uses metal chains to extend her range, Petra Johanna Lagerkvist favours dual pistols, Elsa la Conti is a Nun that uses a crucifix to lay the smack down, the young Catherine Kyoubashi is too small to compete so rides inside a giant robot and lastly Fiona Mayfield, a maid with huge sword, something I am pretty sure is a common sight in Japan.This eclectic mix of female combatants ensure all fighting styles are catered for with each one hosting a wealth of special moves and unique powers. 

As with most fighting games there are also plenty of other modes to try your skills at including a survival score attack, time attack and a trails mode where you need to complete specific challenges to progress to the next level. As you progress through the story with each character you slowly unlock art and movies to view in the gallery plus there is the After Story; a kind of extended visual novel adding a little more depth to each character after the many battles.

Visually the presentation of Arcana Heart 3 is of a high quality with well animated characters jumping all over the screen in battle however this is spoilt by the huge borders that take up both sides of the screen that gives a small profile of each characters, pointless and very intrusive.

With so many characters to fight as and a decent amount of content to play through Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!! is a strong portable title for fans of the fighting genre.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

(Version Tested: PS Vita)


+ 23 very different fighters to choose from
+ Fast and smooth fighting action


- The story is a bit daft

Edited On 19 Nov, 2014

( 1 )
Fear Sinséir1612's avatar
Fear Sinséir1612 2 years ago
I am so glad you guys at ShopTo are stocking this title for PS3 & PS Vita!! I sold my PS3 and all my games for close to £400 so that I could get the Xbox One day one edition (with Dead Rising 3 and Ryse on the console, sure glad I did!) so I will definitely be getting this game for PS Vita :)! Hopefully through ShopTo, of course! 'Huge roster of some 23 fighters', eh? I wouldn't call that huge for a Nipponese beat-'em-up. At least 50 characters would make it a 'huge roster' in my eyes but it looks great nonetheless :)! Any word when Senran Kagura Deep Crimson for 3DS might be making it, to these our shores :)?!!

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