Being a lover of anime fighting games, I’ll pretty much give any of them a shot. Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai piqued my interest right from the first footage I saw of the game in motion whilst perusing Steam. However, now having played the game for a decent while, how actually is it?
Koihime Enbu is, in pretty much every quantifiable way, an anime fighter. All of the basic revolver combo, air dashing, unnecessary flashy super combo nonsense is present and correct. The main selling point with the gameplay here though is just how accessible it is. Almost all of the characters have identical command lists, and even then the amount of complicated inputs is minimal, relying on the quarter circle and dragon punch motions almost exclusively.
This doesn’t mean that the characters are all the same, as they each have their own weapons and basic movesets with differing ranges and properties. Put within the simplified mechanics of the game, this gives the player enough knowledge to make a start with any of the characters in the game, and then gently prods them into learning the unique set-ups and combos for the character chosen.
For this, the game has a rather extensive set of tutorials for each character in the Training Mode that teach the player the basic specials, some decent (and surprisingly viable) combos, and allow practice of the spacing required for each character to use them effectively. This is especially useful in working out how to use the other unique system in Koihime Enbu, the Hougeki attack.
The Hougeki attack is a mechanic linked to a few normals in each characters repertoire that will put the opponent into a stunned state. From here, more of the same type of attack can be used to juggle the opponent whilst keeping them stunned for huge damage. This is also the only way to execute each character’s Hiougi, a cinematic Super attack that uses all four segments of the Tactics bar to use, but will do very high damage if it connects.
Another factor to keep in mind when playing is your Assist character. The player picks these after picking their main character and they can be used (at the cost of a portion of the super bar) for a variety of effects, such as obstructing your opponent or stunning them. I personally found Hoto to be the most useful as they render the opponent helpless for a moment, allowing a momentary pause to regroup your strategy or granting the player a few free hits.
As well as the aforementioned Tutorials, there’s a small variety of other modes to play around with. The Arcade Mode functions as both a story mode (if you can call it that) and an archetypal arcade mode too, with a slight narrative at the beginning and end of each run giving some story to what’s going on, then random fights with the roster in between. The plots themselves are a little lacklustre, but are pleasant enough to be enjoyable, and can also be skipped anyway.
The standard Versus and Online Modes are here as well, with the game having both Ranked and Player Match choice with online. These are all pretty standard fare, and along with the Replay Mode and the Gallery Mode make up a fairly typical fighting game package. The problem with this being that it’s not trying anything particularly interesting, nor does it have a decent amount of single-player content, which will detriment the games longevity if you’re not a lab junkie.
Aesthetically, Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai is typically anime but definitely high quality in that stable. All of the characters both playable and the Assists, after an initial jarring moment on the character select screen in which they all look the same, are actually visually distinct from one another and look wonderfully unique. This is especially true in motion, with some of the most beautiful and fluid animation sets I’ve seen in an anime game.
There are a few occasional awkward animations amongst the cast, but that aside, this game in general is a feast for the eyes.. The attacks are suitably flashy and at times ludicrously over-the-top (especially the Ougi and Hiougi attacks), the backgrounds are lush if a little simple, and the menus are bright and easy to navigate. The only downer on the whole package is the music which, sitting here writing this, I do not recall whatsoever.
So, should you buy Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai? For such a low price, this is a surprisingly solid fighting game with a lot of depth to the gameplay mechanics. The lack of single-player modes will mean that you’ll either have to put in a lot of time in Training Mode, or else the only real practice you’ll find will be online, which sadly diminishes game’s appeal. It is a decent game that’s really worth a look if you’re into anime fighters, it just needs more content and originality.