Friday, March 14, 2014

Random thoughts on Vanguard Princess

What the heck is Vanguard Princess? It's a cute doujin fighting game made in the Fighter Maker 2K engine (I think?) by a former Capcom employee named Tomoaki Sugeno, or Suge9. Something tells me that 9 is actually a Japanese "no" character turned to the side, but I dunno.

The game is pretty high-quality for a one-man game. Even if it was made in a game-making engine, the sheer amount of labor involved is pretty crazy. Suge9 did all the art and music, and I'm guessing the SFX (aside from the voices) are probably from a library or something. Just the sheer amount of art boggles my mind. Some people really are talented.

The game itself is pretty good. The characters seem fairly well-balanced, all are pretty unique and interesting, and I feel like the game system allows for a lot of freedom of fighting "expression." I really like the assist system as it really helps to balance the main cast and help troublesome matchups. It reminds me a bit of Arcana Heart where the various Arcanas can be used to help mitigate a problem matchup or enhance the strengths of a character.

I also really like the game's almost rigid enforcement of footsies. You basically have to play footsies in VP. The game's limited projectile system (including proxy guard) and good anti-airs make the ground game very very important. All characters have their own tools for getting in or keeping the enemy at bay, and I like how assists work in that environment too.

Actually, I want to talk about projectiles. In VP, projectiles generally don't occupy the screen for very long. Also, the huge majority of them can be crouched, forcing players to think about when they stick them out. You need to anticipate when the opponent will move in, not just throw lots of fireballs. There's rarely a time where doing a projectile attack will be both useful and safe, which I really like.

Onto the bad, though. No netplay is really bad. eigoMANGA (the localization person/team) has stated that netplay will eventually be on the table, which is good. Also we might see features like a survival mode or new characters or assists. Hmm.

The really bad is that eigoMANGA's localization is terrible and a bunch of stuff that was promised for the Steam release wasn't in the actual game. The localization is really, really, really bad. I mean terrible. It's literally translated (no localization effort) and there are both misspellings and grammar errors. Also, the heavy attack button and assist button were renamed from C/D to X/Y for basically no reason. It feels like a one-man translation job with no editing. Absolutely awful. Also there are no post-battle cutscenes to better explain the story battles that take place. I realize this is Suge9's fault, but the characters feel like paper dolls and not actual characters.

One thing that really annoyed me too is that a Q&A was made where people asked a bunch of questions, many of which got answers. Several people, myself included, made comments that the game would not work with many Japanese arcade sticks because the sticks were mapped to the D-pad. Unfortunately, the localization team/person/whatever completely forgot to fix the D-pad inputs of 360/PS3 controllers, which made some sticks unusable. Ugh. Fortunately I have a MadCatz SE stick, which lets me set the stick to the left analog stick. Unfortunately, if you have a HRAP or Fighting Stick or some other stick, you might be screwed. If you have a standard PS3 or 360 pad, you can't use the D-pad and have to use the analog stick.

Also, certain versions of the game were released with no versus mode at all. What the hell? I got my copy of the game quite a while back, and it wasn't until the Steam release that I got a version with an offline versus mode. What? The version that I had didn't have a practice mode, either (which is baked into the versus mode). I understand taking out an online versus mode, but the offline mode? What the heck?

I like the game and I would like to see money go to Suge9 so that he will make more stuff. However, eigoMANGA's localization was really bad. I hope that he/she/they hire an editor and clean up the translation.

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