Do you have some Microsoft points left over, don’t know where to spend them and want a fighting game about elemental powered teens? Then this might be the game for you. Following on from the first Battle High game, Battle High 2 keeps to the same style and changes very little from the original.
Battle High 2 by Mattrified Games is a 2D fighting game with a similar style to the original street fighter games. It is based in the San Bruno School for the Elementally Advanced, a school for evolved individuals with the ability to manipulate and manifest elements (water, earth, air, fire and energy) following the story of all 13 fighters in the game.
The story has multiple mini paths all of which are connected in some way. One of which follows Jiro who defeats his younger brother, Shiro, the leader of a gang known as “The Rivals” which become disbanded due to Shiro’s defeat. That is only one part of the main story which seems to mainly focus around the new principal that has been elected. Since then students elemental abilities have been vanishing, and of course the two are connected. The story is surprisingly well thought out, with each character having a special ending.
As with every fighting game it is the handling that can make or break it and I found that in Battle High 2 was fairly mediocre. It is the kind of game that sticks true to the arcade style and plays much better using an arcade stick rather than an Xbox control as some of the combos require specific direction movements that are not as easy as they seem.
You have the basic move assortment of light / heavy punches and kicks, elemental specials (which vary with each character), a throw, and an overdrive counter which increases either power or speed that and can help turn the tables in a fight. Each of the characters also has a Super attack, that sets up a multi-hit combo or move that does high damage.
The fighting in the game is most reminiscent of the 2D Street Fighters. The combat itself is not as fluid as I had expected. On peculiarity is the extent to which I was regularly pushed back from the opponent by my own attacks. This is normal in fighting games, but seem excessive here and really got in the way of combo building.
Thankfully, there is a training mode which teaches you combos for each character making the fights easier.
The game itself isn’t too difficult. The AI in Battle High 2 tends to be either not an issue, or competent enough to be annoying but never enough to make to make things unbearable. Even when set up at max difficulty, the game would be closer to normal difficulty in most other games. To be specific, most of the time the AI can be beaten by sitting back and using the long ranged attacks that seem a bit broken as there is no limit to the use of them.
Outside of the expected arcade and versus modes there are still things to do with the challenge mode with set tasks for each character. Extracurriculars is basically smashing and breaking things, from cars to gym equipment. Then there is the journal which gives bios and endings for each of the fighters, and also keeps a list of achievements that aren’t actually worth anything but the satisfaction of collecting all of them.
The problem with the game is that there is no actual balance between characters. No one character is good for countering another; theres no real variety to their play style. Meanwhile, sitting back and using long range attacks is a hard to beat tactic and the game knows this and has achievements connected to this style of play. This is only really an issue when playing against other people. This brings us to another problem, the game can only be played by more than one player locally. To really find an audience it needs to feature an online multiplayer component.
The art styles and animations in the game are very good for an indie game and the music has that typical arcade style feel to it that brings the whole thing together. The voice acting tends to get a bit annoying after a while as every character has a catchphrase or line before attacks, and these ware thin very fast.
Battle High 2 is not in the ranks of AAA games but, as an XBLIG it is probably one of the better games in its genre. The game does offer plenty to do and if you enjoy fighting games then it’s worth the purchase at 80 Microsoft points.
6 battling, face-punching teens out of 10