Five dollars can buy you lots of things. You could get a foot long sub. You could buy a comic book. You can also buy 500 Jessie from Full House pins. As of March 3rd, you can now buy one darn great fighting game on Steam.
Vanguard Princess comes from Tomoaki Sugeno,who also contributed to Resident Evil 3 and King of the Fighters EX: Neo Blood. From all the information I could find, he did this game on his own. When you see this in action, you will find this astounding. This game is also a breath of fresh air. As our last two reviews have been negative, it’s nice to have SteamFirst be positive again.
Speaking of negative, though, there are some complaints to get out of the way. You have a cast of all female characters who are either jiggletastic or overly sexualized. This could be off-putting for some. There is also a decided lack of digital cross pad support, a big no-no for a fighting game. The store front and in-game description of it being a “two-on-two fighter” is also false. It is one-on-one with a selectable support character. Finally, as I suck, I need a dedicated combo trainer to up my understanding of the system and proficiency in a game like this. Its absence is acceptable considering the price, however. With that out of the way, let’s get to the positives.
The first thing you will notice are the well done graphics. Character sprites are obviously anime influenced. Bright and well drawn, this is how I imagined games would look when I was younger. Each fighter has numerous palette swaps as well, something more expensive fighters charge extra for via DLC. This is all the more impressive when you see it in action. Special effects are abundant. The animation is fluid; you frame counters out there should have a field day with this. The backgrounds are lovingly drawn, too. Ranging from lush green fields to ruined cities, I cannot emphasize enough how amazing it is that this was done by one person.
All of this would mean nothing if it did not play well. Fortunately, it’s well covered there. Once you get accustomed to your fighter, you will find your self pulling out some very satisfying combos. Hits and combos have weight, making you feel as though you are really dishing (or in my case receiving) the punishment. When a good knockdown hit is landed, the fighter falling will twirl in the air akin to you favorite martial arts flick. Of course, a well timed follow up can lead to a great juggling opportunity.
This leads into the fighter move sets. Each one has a unique look and feel. There is no copy and paste jobbers here. You have your bone crunchers, your little speed freaks, the all-arounder, et al. (My personal favorite was Luna, who, in addition to her devastating kicks, dual wields a pair of pistols.) The specials are done via Street Fighter-esque stick sweeps and strikes, so each is easy to pick up and play. Of course, that does not make it easy to master. With the previously mention lack of a combo trainer, I was discovering new moves and how they work mid-bout. Sometimes, this let me pull off a lucky win. Other times, well, at least led to a humorous pummeling.
With all this, Vanguard Princess is an easily recommended fighter. I would go so far to say that it’s a must buy. Not since Persona 4: Arena have I enjoyed a fighter to this extent. If you find yourself with a choice of spending five dollars on this or a sub, go: be hungry and earn some blistered thumbs.