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Not that weird: Asura’s Wrath is the best kind of stupid fun

Friday, 9th March 2012 08:17 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Weeks behind the rest of the world, Asura’s Wrath finally launches in the UK today. You don’t know what you’ve been missing out on.

Asura’s Wrath: A Good Time

The product of between CyberConnect2′s Seiji Shimoda and Capcom’s Kazuhiro Tsuchiya.

Inspired by episodic Japanese dramas, the gameplay is broken into short segments and will be extended by DLC.

Contains short rail shooter sections in addition to structured brawling.

Now available absolutely everywhere – well, not GAME.

I’m not an anime weaboo. I don’t get suspiciously excited when someone says “baka”. But I do appreciate that many forms of Japanese media espouse aesthetics different to what we get on the telly back home, and that this is a good thing. But hey, I’m adventurous. It’s very rare for me to encounter something unusual and not respond with “brilliant, a change”.

This may not describe you. If you’ve ever watched an anime, Japanese drama or movie and thought to yourself “this is strange – and I don’t like that,” then Asura’s Wrath is not for you. I wish you all the best in the future. Goodbye.

Anybody still here has earned a promotion on my buddy list, and should definitely check out Asura’s Wrath. The words :weird”, “kooky” and “strange” have been thrown around too much in relation to the neat little brawler, which taps right into cultural seams likely to be familiar to anybody who ever browses outside their cable provider’s reality TV section.

Capcom and CyberConnect 2 have been quite clear on what Asura’s Wrath is – a love letter to the tropes of Japanese media. Just about the only cliche it skips is the one where someone gets dumped in the rain while a train goes past. There’s the on-again-off-again rival; the mentor turned antagonist; the darkly mysterious villain and his inevitable rogue’s gallery of sidekicks – the fat one, the fey one, the old one, and the one with enormous boobs. Every single event is a dramatic, occasionally literally earth shattering encounter; every piece of dialogue is overwrought and silly.

That’s okay, because it’s supposed to be that way. You’re not supposed to come away from Asura’s Wrath thinking “ah yes, I have learned something significant about the human condition during my Marxist deconstruction of the themes and overarching structure”. You’re supposed to have a bit of a laugh, go “phwoar”, and forget all about it – until the next episode. I don’t watch much telly anymore so the closest example I can think of is pretty ancient: It’s a bit like Xena, or Hercules. Just a bit of fun with popcorn, and never mind the flaws.

A lot of people have accused Asura’s Wreath of being a bit too much like television, in fact. This is a little untrue. The game is very strongly narrative driven, and player choice is limited to deciding whether to shut the loquacious villains up every now and then. It’s entirely linear. But then again, so’s the single-player portion of Call of Duty.

Is this mindless spectacle valuable? This is the kind of question academic types like to get excited about just before they start asking “are games art”, “what is art”, “what is the nature of a game”, “are graphics detracting from the core experience” and “I wonder if I can get another grant about how perma-death is my favourite thing and thereby avoid any teaching work this semester”.

I had a good time. A man fatter than the whole planet squashed me with a finger and I beat him up. A man hit me with a sword so long it stretched from the moon the to the Earth and out the other side, and I beat him up.

My answer to the mindless spectacle question is another question – am I having a good time? In Asura’s Wrath, I had a good time. A man fatter than the whole planet squashed me with a finger and I beat him up. A man hit me with a sword so long it stretched from the moon the to the Earth and out the other side, and I beat him up.

If you don’t mind a bit – well, a lot – of linearity than Asura’s Wrath really is fun. The much criticised “quick time battles” aren’t actually reliant on quick times events. Quick time events are a good shortcut, and as they’re all tied to the animations – you have to hit the button just as Asura’s fist connects – they’re not as frustrating.

Here’s how combat works: You have a ranged attack, a light attack, dash and jump moves, and a heavy attack which can only be set off a cooldown period. You can counter, which results in a critical hit, but must otherwise dodge and jump to evade, as you don’t have endless health. As you damage enemies, two gauges fill. One small one allows you to do endless heavy attacks for a short period of a time, and another triggers a “Burst” – a special attack which, if landed successfully, advances you to the next section of the game.

It’s very simple, yes, but it’s actually quite satisfying learning the different enemy’s attack patterns and finding the openings. Sometimes it can be frustrating, like solving a puzzle, if you miss the game’s cues, but getting it right is viscerally rewarding, as CyberConnect2′s gorgeous animations respond with a ridiculous show.

The story is stupid fun. The combat is stupid fun. The Buddhist-inspired sci-fi design is gorgeous, and on many occasions, stupidly fun. Lots of games are, when you boil it down, stupid fun, but Asura’s Wrath makes no bones about it, and that is both refreshing and engaging.

Asura’s Wrath is out now on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

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9 Comments

  1. hoppermania

    Best game I’ve played for a while!

    #1 2 years ago
  2. KAP

    I love the look of this title, regardless of all the western reviews who slate it for being a quicktime mess. I guess that when critics mention quicktime they seem to think its because that machanic has been done to death, when in actual fact FPS is being rinsed to the point that pre-dated death now, but that’s fine right? Thats completely acceptable?

    I call BOLLOX to that.

    Mass Effect 3 and Asura’s Wrath Ill be purchasing today I think.
    Darkness 2 and Syndicate can get traded in them too. Ohh errrr…

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Ge0force

    I enjoyed the game, but there are too many flaws too call it a classic: the game is WAY too short, there is no replay value because it’s so linear, there is no interaction with the story, “marking” enemies in child of eden style instead of aiming is rather boring in the shooting sequences and the combat is very basic without any kind of upgrades or new possibilities during the game. It IS visually amazing as an anime so all anime fans should play it, but not at full retail price.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Gurdil

    @3 totally agree! I was very disappointed in this game. It delivers on the visual part but it’s pretty boring and damn short! Plus the two endings thing is just so underwhelming, I expected AT THE VERY LEAST another fight. I keep telling my friends to wait for its price to come down to €30. Or even better: to borrow it from me. Let’s be honest, I’ll never play it again.
    For the record, I was very excited about Asura’s Wrath so maybe that’s why I was so disappointed but I honestly can’t recommend it to anyone at full retail price.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. The_Red

    This game is the definition of AWESOME. A combination of crazy anime and a bit of 90s madness. Still, the price is a bit too steep for this kind of experience.

    Goes on to show once again that the current $60 retail or $10 downloadable pricing model is BEYOND broken…

    #5 2 years ago
  6. ManuOtaku

    This game reminds me a lot of god hand on the ps2, because it is a gem of a game, but it is very unappreciated by the media, heck i even saw a review done by IGN that gave God hand a 3 back in the day, both games are over the top, crazy, and with solid combat mechanics, the thing is that iam an anime fan, anime is another hobby of mine, i have a collection of 200+ original anime, i purchase all my anime, and maybe iam being biased here, i guess.
    P.S oh and thanks Brenna for the really good post, and i like how you started the post, i hope this can convince a lot of people to try out this game i really deserve it, just for the crazy new ideas alone

    #6 2 years ago
  7. silkvg247

    You had me at anime, japanese, weird and kooky but then lost me at brawler.. sowwy ;)

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Deacon

    I must admit I’m a little disapointed that this appears to be one big QTE event after another.

    That’s fine, if you only want to play the game once, maybe twice. But releasing it as a full priced $60 / £45 sounds ridiculous. It’ll be £15 in a couple of weeks though so I can live with that.

    And don’t get me wrong, I adore anime and such things.

    However, for the most part I definitely don’t like QTE’s. Especially not a whole game made up of them.
    It sounds like I would do better simply watching someone ELSE play this.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. CityCobra

    PS3 Review:

    http://www.gamingxp.com/bericht-5514-capcom-cyberconnect_2-ps3-asura_s_wrath.htm

    “Asura’s Wrath is not a game for everybody – it’s special and unique. CyberConnect 2 managed to offer the player a high speed game with a lot
    of story- oments and cinematic storytelling.”

    from GamingXP.com

    #9 2 years ago

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