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[PS3/Vita Double Review] Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!!

AH3LM_US_logo_rgb-Arcana-Heart-3-LOVE-MAX-rero copy

Download Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!!, an explosive, fun-filled 2D fighting game from the companies that brought you Guilty Gear and BlazBlue! Choose between 23 cute, cuddly angels and up to 23 arcana, celestial beings who can change the balance of your character and stop the evil Drexler Institute from destroying Japan!

Giving players a truly unique experience, Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!! allows players to choose an arcana, a celestial being (23 total) that adds special moves and boosts the stats of each character.

Thought you mastered the world of Arcana Heart? Think again, as each character is blessed with two new types of moves: Extend Blast, which allows players to knock an opponent back and use “Extend Force”, and Arcana Eclipse, a powerful full-screen special move! In addition, LOVE MAX!!!!! adds three new modes, After Story, Timed Attack and Trial!

This is a double review for the PS3 and Vita versions for Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!!. The PS3 version was played by EdEN and the Vita version was played by The_Nmac. This review presents what they both had to say.

Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!! looks like and old-school fighter, feels like and old-school fighter and plays like an old-school fighter… with a twist. But first let’s take a step back to talk about Arcana Heart 3 proper. This game was first released in Arcades in Japan back in 2009, and as you can tell from its name, it’s the third one in the series. It features an all-female group of fighters who have access to Arcana, powerful and magical beings that can be called upon to help during a fight. By mixing and matching each character with each of the different Arcana at your disposal, you’ll eventually find a combination that favors your particular playing style.

Arcana Hearts 3 Max - 1

Arcana Heart 3 was then ported to consoles a few years later, adding extra content (as is usually the case for arcade to console ports), and now here we are with Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!!, an upgraded version of the game that features a re-balanced experience along with some fixes here and there, along with new content, thus making this the definitive version of the game.

Arcana Hearts 3 Max - 2

Those of you that have already mastered Arcana Heart 3 will be happy to know that this new version includes an After Story mode which features extra story segments for each character (along with some fighting here and there to keep things moving), which does feel more like a visual novel than a fighting game (something that reminded me of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax story mode, which I loved).

Arc System Works has put some great fighting games out over the years from BlazBlue to Guilty Gear. Their games are known for their visual style and fighting system. Arcana Hearts 3: LOVE MAX!!!!! is no different. You have five days to save Japan, and you need to collect five stones to stop this Ragnarok from destroying Japan.

Arcana Hearts 3 Max - Characters

When you start to play the first thing you will notice is the characters. There is a huge variety of women available to play, no men on the roster. The characters look crazy from nuns, warriors, a little girl who has a 2-D monster she drew from chalk fighting with her, a girl who is fighting in a large drop of liquid. When I said crazy character design, I meant it.

The games fighting system is deep. Each character has hew own special abilities and nuances. One cool thing which you don’t see in many fighting games is that you can also choose an Arcana prior to battle. This will change how the battle unfolds and could affect how your character attacks. They will affect your attack and defense as well as grant abilities on the battle field like freezing enemies. It adds a second layer to each character, so even if you are not a fan of a specific style, you might find a nice compliment to it.

Arcana Hearts 3 Max - 3

One thing I did notice was the lack of a dedicated training mode to teach you the basics of the fighting system. Arc system Works usually has a very detailed fighting system and this game is no different. The lack of a training mode here hurts the game as it might be very inaccessible for new players coming in. The game does offer a simple mode for new players coming in, but it doesn’t teach them how to play the normal version.

Another thing I noticed was that the game is presented at a 4:3 ratio. It fits on the Wide Screen of the Vita, but the borders on each side have animated versions of the characters involved in the fight. Really interesting design choice, but I would have been more happy to see this dedicated to more screen space to showcase the characters and the areas in which they fight.

Arcana Hearts 3 Max - 5

Final Thoughts
This is another great fighting game from Arc System Works. It has all of their trademarks of a good title, zany characters, great battle system, incomprehensible story. There is a lot of fun to be had. The addition of Arcana selection gives the game another layer of strategy. If you are a fighting game enthusiast, this should be right up your alley.

[review pros=”Really interesting characters
Intriguing battle system” cons=”Battles don’t take place in Widescreen” score=80]

$39.99 on PS3 and Vita

PS3 Game size: 3.1 GB
Vita Game size: 2.0 GB

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This review is based on a PS3/PS Vita copy of Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!! provided by Aksys Games.