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|[ 10/21/08 ] = Devil Kings X (Cross)|
[ Note ] = Sengoku Basara is the Japanese name of the Capcom side-scrolling action series referred to as Devil Kings in North America. As such, though Sengoku Basara X (Cross) has not yet been released at the time of this writing, it will be referred to by the most likely English title if it were ever released outside of Japan: Devil Kings X (Cross). Likewise, characters will be referred to by their localized English names (however "bad" they may sound to some).
Since the original Guilty Gear X came out of left-feild and stunned the world with its uniquely pretty graphics, fighting game fans begged for something in the same vein from Capcom (while crazy freaks boycotted Capcom fighters out of frustration). Some even pondered the possibilities if both of development teams got together to make something. Eventually Sammy VS Capcom was announced as a work-in-progress, but it never took-off and is said to have been canceled completely (for unclear reasons). Years after that, a mysterious site in the arcade section of Capcom's site reveals an unnamed 2-D fighting game based off of a popular Capcom IP. Optimists thought it was SFIV, but long-time fans saw that it would definitely be something else; they just weren't sure which one of the many Capcom IPs it would be. Eager fans (me included) waited for what seemed like ages, and it was suddenly revealed to be a 2-D fighting game based off of the Devil Kings series. That it was a DK fighting game had already made it look appealing, but Capcom and Arc System Works doing the game together was the icing on the cake.
So, you figure fans would be happy, right? Happy that Capcom has finally made a "true high-res" 2-D fighting game, right? Wrong. "Fans" are as ungrateful as ever (just as they were with CFE), and I wouldn't be surprised if they were the same ones who have boycotted Capcom games before. So, before you judge the game off of what these assholes are saying, read this to see the other side of the coin from someone who has actually played the game.
First-off, we've seen the transition of a series from 2-D to 3-D before, but 3-D to 2-D is less common. A few examples are Hayato, Tronne Bonne, and Jill Valentine from 3-D in Star Gladiator, MegaMan Legends, and Resident Evil (respectively), to 2-D in Marvel VS Capcom 2. These characters were best known for their roles in 3-D titles, but Capcom transferred them masterfully to the 2-D realm without compromising the essence of their 3-D appeal. Though Devil Kings X (Cross) plays in 2-D with the boundaries of 2-D, it retains every drop of intesity that defines its boundless 3-D counterparts. Those who have not played (or don't like) the original 3-D installments wouldn't understand what makes this 2-D installment of the series so special. The over-the-top moves, cool characters, great animation, and distinctly-Japanese locales are all faithful to the 3-D originals, and look great in 2-D.
Many (who probably haven't even played the game yet) disagree, but DKX is a deep game with unique systems and properties (pulled from the 3-D iterations) that make it fun to play. Though Arc System Works was involved in its development, the game plays more like MVSC2 (with the leveled-Assist system in place) and MVSC (with some characters used only as Assists) than Guilty Gear. Assist level determines how often you can make the Assist character attack while they're on-screen (as opposed to resting in the background). Launchers are slow and hard to hit with (like Sammy games), but they can be put into combos (like in Capcom games). Performing them is awkward, but at least they work in combos, and some of them look really cool, too! The spectacular Special Moves were ripped straight from the 3-D games, look, and work just as well in 2-D. Part of this game's charm lies in its unique systems for each character; cetain characters can utilize (and exploit) abilities that others cannot (and vice-versa). For example, one character can use ability paralysis techniques, while others can perform various types of exclusive summons (troops, machines, etc.). Finishing moves make things more interesting, too; not just because one-hit instant-death, but because they can actually be put into combos! This aspect alone makes matches more intense (simply because a single combo can mean certain death).
Balance could have definitely been better, though. Some characters (like the yet untranslated Maeda Keiji) have unorthodox normal moves that make their combos short and too difficult to use, slow, virtually useless Special Moves, and Super Moves with limited start-up and hardly any priority. Playing with them is best described as constantly losing stride in an uphill battle. You could say that the game is more broken because of the insane, completely unfair infinite combos, but the burden lies moreso in the character balance. Sure, Frost has some pretty unfair infinite combos, both the big dudes look like they might have their own, and there are probably others yet to be discovered, but they are strangely fitting. Hear me out...
I'll always think that infinites (an/or semi-infinites for the trolls) have no place in orthodox Capcom fighters like Street Fighter and DarkStalkers, but it's a little different for this game. Infinite combos reaching up into the triple-digits might have a place in this new Devil Kings fighting game because of their presence in the original Devil Kings series of side-scrolling action games. In those games, it is not entirely odd to see skilled players perform over-the-top, completely unfair combos reaching into the triple digits. Thus, their presence in the 2-D fighting game isn't so surprising if you consider the fact that they are also in the 3-D series it is based on. I admit that a stable system of infinites (or pseudo-infinites) could have been implemented to even the playing ground, but even in the originals some characters had higher-hitting, fancier combos than others. Theoretically, just on the crazy combos alone we could say that the translation from 3-D to 2-D was successful. Then again, the 3-D games in this series weren't head-to-head fighting games, and getting caught in infinites really sucks (since the only thing you can do get out of them is pray that your opponent misses a button press).
Frost and his infinite are pretty annoying to be caught in, but Scorpio and his charades are much worse. Why? Because only a small group of (crazed) players know and can actually use Frost's infinite during a fight, but I've seen people come in and completely utilize all of Scorpio's exploits on their first day with the game. Scorpio and his "magnet" attack are more ridiculous than anything else in the whole game. What the hell is this "magnet" attack shit? Well, it's a certain normal attack he has that pulls the victim inward (during combos, and even when blocked). This article wasn't meant to be comprehensive, so without naking this a FAQ, I'll just say that when combined with his powerful Special Moves and ease of wall-bouncing, it's enough to give Frost and his infinite combo(s) a run for his money. Some characters can't even hit him with essential combo-starting attacks when he's ducking, and he has some questionable priority; luxuries that other characters do not seem to have.
Funny thing is, Scorpio doesn't even have to rely on an infinite combo like Frost does, because he's got enough to always keep his lifebar just a few points longer than yours. If that's not bullshit, then I don't know what is. This could turn some players off, and it's really unfortunate; had this shit not been in the game, it would be even more enjoyable than it already is. I waited so long for this game, and I was so excited to see that it had become a reality, but I admit that those feelings changed when I saw that insincere assholes can use simple exploits to arrive at the same point as those who have put in the time to actually practice. And to add insult to injury, this Scorpio shit was left in the home revision, too! Can't say (at this time) if the other exploits are still in, but they really should have fixed the game for the consumer release.
From a design standpoint, I'd say that DKX is nearly perfect. The whole "Stylish Hero Action" moniker given to its 3-D cousins sounds ridiculous, but it really suits the brand of style that makes DKX such a cool game. Character-design is as polished as ever; nothing was lost in the conversion of the characters from 3-D models to 2-D sprites, and every one of them looks just as they should. The animation is pretty good, and there are even special poses for the Basara KOs! The game features a variety of familiar Japanese locales from the original 3-D entries; some are bustling and busy, while others are more serine and quiet (all of which look crystal clear). Even the font and VS screens look wicked!
The home version was released shortly after its arcade debut, with two previously-unplayable characters made playable, new backgrounds, an alternate intro, and a tournament-ready VS mode ( essentially making it the latest and last revision). Which is just as well, since the game was quickly and quietly relieved from most arcades not long after its initial release. As such, it will be good to see the most current (PS2 consumer) revision of the game used for tournaments and/or gatherings. On a side-note, there are also "Titles" in the game, which act as accomplishment markers (similar to XB360 Achievements).
Devil Kings X (Cross) serves not only as a welcome addition to the series, but to the existing list of quality fighters already on the PS2 hardware. Fans of the game will want to get the home version because it denotes a revision of the game (that might have hit arcades had it done better) with features noteworthy-enough for purchase, while fighting fans might get it just based on it being a collaborative effort between two fighting game giants (Sammy and Capcom). Air combos, infinite combos, and a strikingly-similar Assist system might also draw in fans of the crazy-popular MVSC2. Either way, the game belongs next to everything else in the PS2 fighting library. Is it worth putting down the cash for a Japanese PS2 unit? Definitely, considering the it is the third entry in the series unreleased outside of Japan (the other two are Devil Kings 2 and Devil Kings 2 - Heroes). This game is well-worth the high price you'll pay to play it (since it may never be released outside of Japan). The only reason this wasn't my top game of 2008 is because Street Fighter IV came out Summer of the same year...
|[ Extra ] = Features|
|[ 1 ] = Devil Kings X (Cross) Azure Dragon Combos|