Vanguard Princess, girl fight – First Sip Review
Princesses, Princesses Everywhere
As the father of an 8-year-old daughter, I truly have a working knowledge of princesses. I am well aware that most princesses are born from royalty, but really, that is not their true appeal. Most of the princesses that my daughter loves to watch are bold and brave, able to leave the confines of their castle to go on a whirlwind adventure to save their subjects. Some use magic, others have their wisdom and wit, and still, others are ponies and unicorns. However, there are some princesses that move beyond the fairy tales and children’s stories to kick butt in rather extreme ways.
That is indeed the case for Vanguard Princess, a game developed by Tomoaki Sugeno. This is a fighting title that brings pretty princesses together to kick the crap out of each other. Even though this game has been on the market for over five years, it has quite the following. So, let’s see if it really does live up to the hype.
The story of fighting games rarely create the depth needed to engage lore-seekers, but Vanguard Princess does a pretty good job of intermingling the fighters’ stories with one another. Basically, a powerful woman, who ends up being the last boss of the game, has been captured by the government. As the agency was attempting to extract her power, a surge of it escaped and fell on average women all over the world. This gave these girls incredible power, and thus they travel the world, fighting each other to uncover the source, only to come face to face with it and destroy in the end.
The story is nothing spectacular, but all of the characters are connected to each other in some way, so their victory taunts fit with who they just beat. That little detail places the characters in a larger world where the fighters no longer fight without motivation but have real reasons for beating the snot out of each other.
Fighting games come in all shapes and sizes these days. Finding the right aesthetic for a brawler is key in creating a great title. In this case, Vanguard Princess is going for a fresh anime-style brawler that is reminiscent of the Guilty Gear games. It absolutely nails that goal. The free-flowing pixel art is smooth and polished, adding enough blur in the movements to feel like something that is hand-drawn to near perfection. In fact, this game was designed and animated by an ex-Capcom developer that used an engine called Fighter Maker 2nd to piece together all of the action. He did quite a good job for doing it solo.
Despite the fact that each character is a female fighter, all of them feel completely different from each other. Their wardrobes are as versatile as their techniques. Some of the fighters wear modest outfits that look like the basic “school girl” outfit that is popular for young Japanese female protagonists to wear. Others don very little clothing that toes the line as being appropriate attire for a fighting princess to wear. The art choice pushes the “sexy fighter” line pretty hard, and this may deter some of the more discerning players away from this title.
When princesses fight with each other, you can bet that there is going to be quite a bit screaming. After all, have you ever seen an actual fight between two women? The developers did a good job of mitigating the number of battle cries and agonizing screams between the fighters. Everything that is muttered is done in traditional Japanese, thus preserving the cultural integrity of this title.
The music fits quite nicely with the fast-paced action. The fighting takes place in various environments ranging from a schoolyard to a moonlit battleground and even an ethereal hellscape. The synthetic music fits the tones of the fighting stages, and that only helps to bring the action to a head.
Having played many fighting titles in the past, I have developed a sense of what a good fighting game looks like. With that said, I have mixed feelings for Vanguard Princess. Though the three difficulty modes do present players with ample opportunity to hone their skills, I fail to see a wide variety of play in this game. It is advertised as being a “2 on 2 fighting” title, but it feels more like a one on one brawler with light help from the sidelines.
That misdirection aside, the controls are very fluid with very little deviation from what feels comfortable in the genre. The fighting is very fast, and with the support running along with the background, it is often difficult to tell who is hitting who. Sometimes the fighting can get so fast that it messes with the button inputs and missteps are made. And trust me, with a fighting roster like this, the action can get pretty intense.
More on Gameplay
There are 9 main characters to choose from and 6 support fighters. Each of these has their own unique moves sets and skills. The support fighters build up energy to be used throughout the fight. If their skills are used preemptively, however, there will a penalty given that will not allow for the player to use their support for a short period of time. I did not use my support very much, as the fighters themselves have plenty of powerful moves to offer.
Button mashing is one way to lose very fast in this game. Each fighter is perfectly balanced with the others on the roster. That allows the fighters to better counter each other’s moves. For example, the gun-toting vixen, Luna, is a chain-combo queen. Slower moving fighters struggle to keep up with her gunplay, but the sword-wielding Yui can break the attacks with the length of her blade. Every fighter has a special attack that they can use after their gauge builds up. I did find that these attacks hardly change the outcome of the battle. It is skill and the precise use of special attacks that will win the battle in the end.
I really did enjoy this game and playing through all of the fighters. Despite this being a game with a roster entirely composed of female combatants, this title really did not introduce anything that is truly new or unique to the genre. It plays very much like Guilty Gear. If I didn’t know any better, I would swear it was a spiritual successor to the game. The support system is a neat addition to the gameplay. However, it merely acts as an extra move set to use during combat. Vanguard Princess meets all the requirements of being a fun fighter and goes no further than that.
At the end of the day, however, the real question is simple. Do you want a fighting game with plenty of TnA where hot anime waifus battle it out while leaving very little to the imagination? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
In Coffee Terms
Vanguard Princess is that caramel mocha frappuccino with extra whip cream and sprinkles. Also, the coffee is pink due to food dye that the barista insisted on putting in there. What you don’t see is the quadruple shot of espresso swimming in it. It’s a pretty, prissy, sweet drink that packs a punch, so don’t let your eyes deceive you!
Vanguard Princess Link
Vanguard Princess Review Summary
I am a husband, father, pastor, teacher, gamer, writer, cat lover, and Steampunk gentleman. I like my coffee as black as night, so hold the creamer…