Despite its modest roots, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni made a big splash in Japan. Because of its popularity, it’s no wonder the game spawned a spin-off arena fighter called Higurashi Daybreak. 07th Expansion the creators of the original series assisted with the creation of this title, allowing fans to recreate battles with their favorite characters.
One peaceful day in Hinamizawa, Rika finds a pair of magatama, one red and one white. These magatama are actually a sacred treasure that is said to make the holder of the red stone fall for the holder of the white stone. After they try it out they are shocked to see that it actually works and battle it out to see who gets to keep them both. You can select a duo of character among the large roster to play through the story mode, with dialog littered in-between battles. The story mode is quite short, serving as only a setup for the battles in the game.
This is a 2v2 arena fighter with a system very similar to the Mobile Suit Gundam VS Series. You select your team and then duel it out in various locations in the game. Each character has a melee and range attack. Ranged attacks can be charged to unleash more devastating attacks, but are limited by ammo, requiring some time to recharge. Aside from this you can jump, dash, defend or fly by consuming your stamina meter. When someone if defeated he is respawned after a short period of time. Beating enough opponents fills up a balloon in the top of the screen, which determines the winner when it reaches 100%.
The game has a large number of characters, 14 in the original and 16 in the expansion, some of which were only minor characters or appeared excursively in the PS2 chapters and the manga. Because of its large roster things aren’t perfectly balanced. Specific character skills are way overpowered, while others are pretty much guaranteed to miss every time. Fortunately each character has multiple weapons, modes and costumes, which change their special attack, letting players choose what suits them best.
There are a ton of weapons in the game. Rika for example can equip a Hoe, Mop or Scythe, while Keiichi can have a Bat, Golf Club or Shovel. There are also guns, whips, katanas, syringes and chalk. Some weapons even change how that player talks which is a great addition for the fans. Costumes are also a nice addition. Depending on the version of the game costumes can be unlocked in different ways, either by beating the story mode or using coins to buy them.
This title is best played with friends. Fighting against AI opponents can get repetitive, especially when you find that ultimate combination that the AI can’t seem to dodge. The game allows for up to 4 players to battle it out either locally or over the internet.
Higurashi Daybreak also made its way to the PSP and shortly after it got an enhanced re-release as a Mega Edition. This version was made by cavia, the team behind both the Drakengard franchise and Nier. The PSP version also allows you to earn gold which can be spent in a shop to buy many goodies.
The graphics look decent on all platforms, considering this is a doujin title. The PSP version manages to look even better despite its lower resolution. The environments are pretty flat and it’s a shame that they don’t play a bigger part in battles, because it would be nice to be able to jump from rooftop to rooftop while in a heated battle.
Higurashi Daybreak is a fun albeit repetitive title. If you plan on playing alone it’s hard to recommend it to anyone except to the most diehard of Higurashi fans, but if you are looking for a simple fast paced game to play with your friends, Higurashi Daybreak is for you.
You can donwload the free demo here:
Higurashi Daybreak Demo