2D fighting games have been rapidly gaining popularity over the years and deservedly so. Koihime Enbu Ryo Rai Rai is an enhanced version of Koihime Enbu that only saw a Steam release in North America so was it worth releasing for console?
Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai looks like it might have been made by Arc System Works but surprisingly, it was created by a small Japanese development studio known simply as Unknown Games. Therefore, it delights me to say that it's actually a very fun game. For starters, the all-female cast is diverse and offers an impressive array of fighting styles. After selecting your fighter, you can choose a Strategist that essentially dictates certain special moves that you can perform. Experimenting with the moderately-sized cast of fighters and selection of Strategists is quite fun, especially when you come across a pair that fits your play style well. The control setup is extremely easy to learn and the controls themselves are responsive and intuitive. However, there are also some complexities (which I'll discuss later) that do a great job of fleshing out the core gameplay.
In the meantime, I'd like to discuss just how awesome Koihime Enbu Ryo Rai Rai looks and sounds. The characters are superbly animated and their art style is quite appealing. Of course, there are some characters that show off a bit too much boob which I always find weird but generally speaking, the characters are delightful and enjoyable to watch battle each other. On the audio side of things, the rocking soundtrack from Saitama Saisyu Heiki (SSH) is phenomenal. It blends with the satisfying effects and character vocalizations perfectly to create a constantly exciting soundscape. In the end, I'm very happy with Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai's presentation.
Let's get back to the gameplay. As you fight, you'll fill up a Tactics Bar that you can use for special moves which seems to be becoming a standard in 2D fighters. Such moves include summoning Strategists, using an EX Special Attack, performing an Ougi move which uses three whole bars, and finally, unleashing the super-powerful Hiougi move after a Hougeki Combo which uses up the entire meter (four bars). Meanwhile, countering moves is a fantastic way to cause extra damage, especially when you stun your opponent with a Special Down in the process as it allows you to get in some extra blows. There are a few more moves to consider but the general formula of charging your meter, performing combos and counters, and unleashing powerful special attacks is very satisfying stuff.
Although these systems are fun to master, I found the overall gameplay of Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai to get repetitive soon after everything started to click. The main contributor to this is that even with the open-ended systems, the core combat is still relatively basic when you compare it to other competitive fighters. I wish there were more single player modes, too. Playing online is great fun but the single player content is definitely suffering. All you essentially get is an arcade and a training mode. The arcade mode features a story for each character but from what I've seen so far, the stories aren't very interesting and the dialogue is nothing short of stereotypical for a generic Japanese game with an all-female cast. I wish there were survival and time attack challenges as well as mini-games and such.
When it comes to 2D fighters, Koihime Enbu Ryo Rai Rai is certainly a competent one that rivals some of the more well-known entries in the genre. If you're a fighting game enthusiast then you definitely won't regret giving it a download.
- + Easy to learn gameplay that features engaging and open-ended 2D fighting
- + Awesome graphics and music
- + Playing online is great fun
- - Core combat is a bit too simple and repetitive
- - Story is stereotypical and boring
- - Could use additional single player modes