Review: Fate/Unlimited Codes

Fate/stay night is an intriguing anime, and one that I gladly watched up until the last episode with quite a bit of vigor. Upon the announcement of Fate/unlimited Codes, I was quite intrigued, as I had not yet experienced the visual novel the anime had been originally based upon, so yet another video game – an English release at that – seemed logical to get into after completing the series. Originally set to roam wild in Japanese arcades and PlayStation 2 consoles, this is a handy little port to the PSP via download from the PlayStation network set in the same universe with the same quirky characters staged for a knock-down, drag-out battle between some of your favorite (and some of your most detested) characters of Fate/stay night.


Codes employs a very familiar 3D model fighters placed in a 2D environment fighting scheme that seems to have gotten much more popular as of late. While selected fighters are rendered in impressive 3D, you do not have the freedom to move about the arena as you would in Soulcalibur or Dissidia: Final Fantasy (a rather extreme example). Strictly speaking, if you’ve ever picked up and enjoyed a fighter before, you should know what to expect here.

A fighting game would be absolutely nothing without flashy special moves that require you to bend over backwards to pull off, and Codes delivers in droves. While most fighters will require quarter-circle squares, up-down-up-right-half-circle, jump on your head, Codes asks of you simple sequences such as combining light attacks with forward or backward maneuvers. If you don’t have it in you to memorize these powered-up versions of characters’ normal physical attacks, then it should be of note that each fighter can put to use a light, medium, and heavy attack. While there are more complex maneuvers to pull off, you can get away with chaining the simplest of button-presses together if you tend to button mash rather than busy yourself with important moveset memorization. As far as keeping up a strong defense, players can employ evasive rolls or Reflect Guards. If that all sounds like too much to swallow at one time, dont worry – you can always rely on the in-game tutorial to better clear things up.

As far as the fighting HUD goes, accompanying the mandatory health gauge you’ll need to keep watch on a magic gauge as well. When you pull off special moves you’ll occasionally fill the gauge to competion, where you can use even more powerful moves – if you manage to live long enough to do so. Perhaps even more exciting than the prospect of performing a super move, however, is pulling off something even flashier with a longer name – a Holy Grail Burst Super Move that is achieved by filling the gauge located in the top center of your screen. As you land successful damaging hits (isn’t that always the way?) it will gradually fill until you’re ready to open up a can of you-know-what on your sorry opponent – an activity that never ceases to satisfy in any fighter.  

While there was an abundance of story to be had in the anime, there isn’t quite so much to be uncovered here. While you are able to choose from a whopping thirteen characters from the series (including Luviagelita – rejoice!), what little story is involved takes place via short cutscenes before and after battles. Though you only get small morsels instead of full-course-meals so to speak, fans of the anime will certainly appreciate this small gesture. Be forewarned – if you have never previously viewed the anime you will have absolutely no idea what is going on in Arcade mode, so play at your own risk if you do not want spoilers or confusion if you plan on sitting down with Fate/stay night.

While there is hardly enough story to keep you occupied, fan or not, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy completing in-game missions. Missions require you to meet several different criteria such as pulling off specific combos in order to advance. This can be quite difficult to progress through if you’re a newcomer to the game, but a fantastic learning experience if you plan on memorizing movesets and combos you just can’t quite pull off. 

Codes features smoothly-rendered 3D models of the Type-Moon universe’s cast as well as the original voice actors from the Japanese cast. It’s quite the slick-looking game, and it’s a shame that such little extras are available within this little package, as it is quite a slick little fighter that could be much improved upon with an expanded story mode, longer arcade mode, and better unlockables. If you’re a fan of the anime, then I wholeheartedly recommend it, as well as fighter fans looking for a worthy PSP title to spend their hard-earned cash on. Admittedly, it isn’t the best fighter out there but given the PSP’s control scheme it works quite well. You may want to take a refresher course in Fate/stay night beforehand.

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