Battle High: Elemental Revolt

Fighting games are one of my favorite genres, so after the disaster that was Raventhorne, I really looked forward to giving Battle High: San Bruno a shot.  Well actually, it’s now Battle High: Elemental Revolt.  Either way, I was hopeful it would get the 2011 Indie Game Summer Uprising back on track.

Nope.  0 for 2.

Honestly, it’s not that Battle High is broken or even bad.  It’s a fairly function throwback to the early 90s era of Street Fighter or SNK style fighting games.  The problem is that, well,  it’s a throwback to the early 90s era of Street Fighter or SNK style fighting games.  Those titles have been redone and cloned and rehashed and re-released a hundred times in the twenty years that have passed since they hit.  As a result, Battle High feels like a relic that is completely outclassed by the games it took inspiration from.

There’s eight fighters to choose from, none of which are memorable in the slightest way.  Well except maybe the chubby blond kid, and only because he kind of reminded me of Stewart from Beavis and Butt-head.  Everything else feels like a colossal Street Fighter wannabe, from the fighting styles to the extracurricular activities to the special moves.  There’s not one spark of true creativity on display here.  I was kind of under the impression that this whole Indie Uprising thing was supposed to showcase ingenuity and creativity.  I must have been mistaken.

And you know, the fighting really isn’t that good.  Even on the harder settings I was able to fool the AI with just random button mashing.  The developer did try to change things up slightly by throwing in a special super-duper attack.  You have a meter that fills up as you fight and once it’s full you can use it.  Except it doesn’t really function as intended.  The button combination required to pull it off is too long, and thus it takes a little too long to pull off.  Against an actual player instead of the AI, it would be so obvious I was trying to do it that there’s no way I could see it working.  Besides, the super-duper attack can easily be blocked or, even better (or worse depending on who’s using it), interrupted with the lightest of attacks.  It’s pretty much useless.

To the best of my knowledge, this has NEVER been done in a fighting game ever before.

One other gripe is that the Xbox controller really isn’t suited for 2D fighters.  I even have the silver controller with the transforming D-Pad, and although it’s so much better than the standard controller, it still really isn’t all that good for these types of games.  Using the analog stick isn’t a good choice either because it registers full movement if a gnat so much as leans on it.  I did have a lot more success using a fighting stick, but how many people out there own those?  Oh, and a personal nit-pick is that some of the characters I played as had a special move where you have to press forward, then down, then diagonally forward-down.  Call me retarded or a newb but I’ve never been able to do those type of moves in any fighting game, and I’m not the only one who’s like that.  It’s why I never used Ryu or Ken in Street Fighter II, because I could never get that damn Dragon Punch to work.

I didn’t play Battle High with another player.  Yea, I’m sure there will be plenty of people out there that say it gets better with another person around.  So what?  The same thing can be said about dying of radiation poisoning.  Besides, if I tried to get my friends to play this, they would look at the copies of the Mortal Kombat 2011, Super Street Fighter IV, Soul Caliber IV, Tekken 6, or Super Smash Bros. Brawl on my shelf and say “why are playing this again?”

And that’s a good question.  Why?  Unless you live and die by the Indie scene, there’s really nothing at all of value in Battle High: Elemental Revolt.  It’s bland even by the standards of most Street Fighter II rip-offs that popped up twenty years ago.  And if you desperately want something that’s old school, why not just play the original?  It’s right there on Xbox Live Arcade for the low price of 400 Microsoft Points.  That’s only four dollars more than Battle High, but that also buys you online play, achievements, and all the other bells and whistles that come in the package.

Actually, I take back what I said about Battle High not being bad.  It is bad.  It fucking sucks by any standard including Xbox Live Indie Games.  It’s boring.  It’s tired.  It’s shallow.  It’s flavorless.  It’s not memorable.  I’m sure I’ll get accused of trolling on this, but really, it was such a let down for me.  One of the ten best games to showcase the Indie movement my aching ass.

In closing, I want to say that I’m really disappointing in the game selection featured in the Indie Game Summer Uprising so far.  As bad as Raventhorne was, and it was way worse than Battle High, at least it kind of felt a little original.  Battle High doesn’t have that going for it.  What did selecting it for this promotion do towards the betterment of the Xbox Live Indie Game scene?  Players who are not as gung-ho about Indie games are going to play this and let out a collective “meh.”  This was not a showcase of what I know an Indie game is capable of, and it’s not going to win over the hearts of those who don’t care to learn just how good an Indie game can be.  What it did was prove that a small development team lacking a budget and professional game design credentials doesn’t have the capability of making a halfway decent rip-off of one of the most cherished games of all time.  Hell, I could have told you that.

Battle High: Elemental Revolt was developed by Mattrified Games

80 Microsoft Points were seriously wondering when, or if, one of these games is actually going to rise up during this uprising in the making of this review.

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The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

18 Responses to Battle High: Elemental Revolt

  1. Dave says:

    erm, not saying the game is not bad as I have not tried it myself yet but having a few alarm bells going off that you apparantly are not able to perform the standard dragon-punch action even on the AAA fighting games? Are you sure you are a fighting game pro to be reviewing this game from the aspect of one?

    Only reason that is relevent is the distinction between this game being boring to a casual non-fighting game player and it being bad even for people who like fighting games alot.

    • Kairi Vice says:

      Well first off the controls aren’t so good that pulling off the move is simple even if you’re a player of skill, especially with an Xbox Controller.

      I never claimed to be a “fighting game pro.” I said I like fighting games, that they’re one of my favorite genres of games. They are. I first played Mortal Kombat at Aladdin’s Castle when I was four years old. I was hooked the minute I knocked some dude into the pit (back when you could do it with just an Uppercut), then looked over at my father and saw his mouth gaping open. It’s the only genre where I still try for 100% completion. Hell, these days you practically have to dedicate weeks just to unlock half the content in the fucking things.

      At Indie Gamer Chick, I’m not necessarily targeting “hardcore” players. I think I speak more for gaming enthusiasts in general, of all skill sets. And, quite frankly, I don’t think hardcore fighting fans by and large are going to like Battle High. They might play it a little, but it’s not going to be something that finds it’s way into their rotation. Why would it when there are better games out there that offer the exact same genre, or specifically the same style? If you’re a really dedicated fighting game player, this shit is not going to fly with you. From what I’ve read since publishing this, the original build of it was pretty well shit on by one of the most hardcore fighting game forums out there.

      So yea, you can question my skill. I’m likely not the most skilled player out. I kind of fancy myself as not bad, but I’m certainly not going to pose much challenge for any top-tier player. But this Indie Uprising thing was supposed to be an event that draws the attention of ALL gamers, of all skill sets. And in that regard, this was a horrible choice, because it seems like such a dusty moldy old relic. With so many Indie games being innovative and offering new ideas, why pick a game that brings none of that to the table? Battle High feels like a Chinese knockoff of a Street Fighter II from twenty years ago.

      People who haven’t played XBLIGs, or who got soured on them a while back, might have seen the amount of publicity that the Indie Game Summer Uprising got and give these games a whirl. And after playing Battle High or Raventhorne, they might never come back to the channel. If I was in their shoes, I would say “Shit, this is the best this channel has to offer? A stripped down, poorly produced knockoff of a twenty year old fighting game and a bland, boring, slow paced, poorly conceived hack and slasher? Pass.”

      • Kris says:

        You better start practicing your Dragon Punches… the d-pad does suck but they’re very do-able 🙂

      • Kairi Vice says:

        So is Balrog’s stuff, and it works a lot better for me 😛

      • Dave says:

        was not intending to offend – wether you are pro or not isnt the concern as such, just wanted to be clear on what angle the review was coming from 🙂

      • Kairi Vice says:

        It came from the angle of someone who wanted to have fun and didn’t have it. All I care about is having fun. I’m not looking for the next superstar game. Just fun. The game doesn’t even have to be well produced (see Doc Logic or Random the Dungeon) or original (Decimation X3 or Star Ninja) for me to say I liked it. Just fun. That’s it. Isn’t that any gamer wants, to have a good time?

      • dave says:

        yes, but with the greatest of respect; whether you had fun or not is probably not the first thing i’m looking to find out from the review *depending* on what type of gamer you are (thus my first question). My friend has fun playing farming games, I think he’s a dink. My dad spends most of his evenings on railway simulators, I think that’s dull. My mother enjoys gardening, i’d rather just soak in the sun. But I can still, to an extent, appreciate a well made niche game in regards to its target audience, the complexity of an accurate simulator regardless of what it simulates and the nice looks of a well planned garden over something overran with weeds etc.

        So as an unbiased reviewer it should be perfectly possible for you to give an ok to good review without having fun if the game does what it should. If the mechanics are broken and you can’t pull off moves then its -bad-. But I know the dragon punch works fine in SF 😛 Either way I stress its not a criticism of YOU, it’s just *me* getting the angle. I have it for this one and the game does indeed seem very poor from what you’ve said. Thanks for taking the time to review these games, I hope the rest of the IGSU really does a good job of making up for the start!

      • Kairi Vice says:

        “So as an unbiased reviewer it should be perfectly possible for you to give an ok to good review without having fun if the game does what it should”

        I don’t see how bias factors in. A review is “did you like it or not?” I didn’t like it.

        And I really should have said the whole “Dragon Punch” thing differently but I’m not going to go back and pussy edit it. I can do a Dragon Punch, I’m just not very good at it. It’s not like my personal White Whale of gaming or anything. If I try to do a Dragon Punch, it’s usually like 1 out of 3 times I get it right. Pitiful to be sure, but I just can’t get the hang of it. And again, I’ve met a lot of people who say the same thing, some of who play fighters a lot more than I do. Do I wish I hadn’t put it in the review? Oh yea. I’m pretty sure admitting that I can’t do it is going to get me crucified on here until the end of time.

        Thank God I didn’t mention that sometimes when I try to throw a fireball as Ryu I end up doing a Dragon Punch. I’m pretty sure they draw and quarter you for that.

      • dave says:

        hmm, its a bit of a difficult thing and i’m sure has been debated en masse over the years but I don’t think a review is necessarily “did I enjoy it” – it should be “is it any good” (note: that question has been answered here i’m not discussing this review specifically now, just tangenting off our conversation.. :D).

        By way of example I could be a food critic. I hate prawns. It would be very unfair of me to rate down some ones prawn salad because I don’t like prawns. It could be the best one ever made that prawn lovers across the world would weep to taste. But in reality is a reviewer ever gonna give something plus marks if it doesn’t click their personal fun buttons? dunno!

        Beat em ups are a messy genre anyway – you’ll get ppl who love them, ppl who hate them, people who love the SNK ones, people who love the Capcom ones and then someone like me will run in touting sammy and guilty gear X2 😀 you’ll never please everyone! Glad i’m not a reviewer.

      • Kairi Vice says:

        I’m not a food critic, nor am I trying to win a Pulitzer Prize. I’m doing reviews the way I would want to read them: no bullshit reading between the lines of what the author REALLY felt.

  2. Michael says:

    Haven’t played this yet, but I’m kind of at a loss reading this review. This gets a spot and Blocks That Matter gets left out? Hmmmmm.

    • Dcon6393 says:

      Well that is the glory of the IGSU. I think they wanted a game from every genre, plus Blocks That Matter just got an update if you want some more of it! Its a solid update, adds replayability to every level and adds 10 new ones.

  3. Chounard says:

    I gave you a little feedback on twitter, but being limited to 140 characters I don’t think I did a good job. Here’s what I think:

    You are 100% correct that this is probably not a good title to be up second in the Indie Games Summer Uprising. I would even agree that it might not belong at all, because it is a niche title.

    With that said, I think this is a good fighting game. I am a big fighting game fan. I play every fighter I can get my hands on, I own many fightsticks for different systems, and I used to run a small side business performing multi-console mods to fightsticks for local tournament players. (So that they can use the same fightstick, regardless of the console the tournament is run on.)

    I spend alot of time on Shoryuken.com, which is the biggest fighting game forum around. There’s a great thread over here http://tinyurl.com/3vkaspe on San Bruno, which has people talking about game balance, possible improvements, and posting up some combo videos they’ve captured. These are guys who have all of the big games, and yet they’re choosing to play and discuss San Bruno. (The community is usually really great to indie devs who take the feedback and improve their game. The Chu’s Destiny thread went for quite a long time. Hopefully Matt keeps the conversation going with them.)

    I love the game, and I know that alot of other hardcore fighting game fans will too. Now, it’s not going to replace Super Street Fighter 4 or Marvel vs. Capcom 3 as the big tournament games, but it is going to give me something fun to play when I’m bored with those and while I wait for Skullgirls.

    That’s not to say it’s perfect. It desperately needs online play, because the AI is terrible. and there are still some balance problems. The biggest flaw however, comes from the Xbox Indies service itself. Not being able to be played offline means that it’s not easy to drag the game off to a fighting game hookup (what we call LAN parties) to show it off to everyone.

    It certainly isn’t for everyone, and it sucks that you didn’t have fun with it. I hope more of the IGSU games are to your taste.

    • Kairi Vice says:

      I hope everyone who read this review reads your thoughts too, especially hardcore fighting fans. I obviously don’t speak for them. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

      “I hope more of the IGSU games are to your taste.”

      Not as much as I do.

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  6. Starglider says:

    My logic for picking this for the Uprising was in fact : ‘This seems like a generic fighter, but a fairly competent one that is on a par with second or third tier commercial titles. 2D fighter fans who want a fresh game to beat should go for it’.

    In general the sentiment on the Uprising dev thread was to showcase polish rather than innovation, and pretty much to say ‘XBLIGs can be nearly as good as retro remake / re-release XBLA titles’. Maybe this was the wrong way to go; certainly it’s a shame that some of the more unusual titles (e.g. Cell : Emergence) didn’t make the deadline. That said positive reviews are only one measure of success, buzz and sales are just as important. The second uprising seems to have done well on buzz, we’ll find out about sales in due course…

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