It seems that every great doujin visual novel has its own fighting game spin-off. Ougon Musou Kyoku is such a game, based on the popular Umineko no Naku Koro ni visual novel and made by the same team. This is a fast paced 2D tag team fighting game with amazing visuals and a fully voiced story mode.
Ougon Musou Kyoku’s story mode is quite extensive. You can pick any two characters you want and the dialog and plot will vary depending on who you picked. Of course selecting well known duos of friends or rivals will result in much more dialog than selecting two random characters. There is even a whole new story arc made from theories the fans came up with. All dialog is voiced, making for a great experience. Note that the game may contain quite a few spoilers for the original novel, so you might want to hold out until you complete the mystery before diving in.
Because of the popularity of the visual novel this spin-off quickly received a fan translation. Ryukishi07 the author of the When They Cry franchise gave his blessing, happy that people outside of Japan will be able to enjoy his games.
One year after its initial release, the game got an expansion titled as Ougon Musou Kyoku Cross. This expansion brought a ton of new characters, with a total of 19 to pick from. During development the team held a drawing contest on Pixiv and selected the winners, featuring their art in the game. The game also managed to make its way to the Xbox 360 in Japan.
There is a surprisingly deep combat system here. Ougon Musou Kyoku manages to perfectly nail the tag team concept. Despite both characters sharing the same HP bar, the game still encourages tagging between characters more than I have seen in other tag team fighting games. Swapping your characters gives the active character a temporary boost, depending on his teammate, meaning that specific teams will be more viable.
Super attacks also require teamwork to pull off. Attacking or getting hit fills the special gauge of the standby character, not the active one, so if you do not swap out you won’t be able to use your super attacks. This kind of system promotes swapping characters, instead of swapping out when your preferred character is low on HP.
Each character has his own set of special attacks. However here aside from your classic super move each special attack can also be converted into a super attack by pressing two buttons at the same time.
Another interesting twist is the ability to enter the Metaworld. In this mode the background changes and you can unleash your super moves at no cost as well as activate your ultimate Meta Special skill. This can be negated using Meta Objection gaining an upper hand.
Typical of fighting games, you can play against your buddies locally. In addition the game has online play, but you will need to enter the IP address of your opponent.
The visuals are colorful and stylish, having a fantasy and mystery vibe as seen in the novel. Things look even better than in the source material. The sprites look super sharp and expressive, making this among the better looking fighting games to date. Character attacks perfectly represent a character’s nature, including the fighting style depicted in the novels. Umineko’s cast make for a great fighting game. Beatrice summons butterflies, Lucifer turns into a stake impaling the opponents, Shannon focuses on defensive magic and Ronove has a whole slew of counter attacks.
A lot of effort was put into this title. High production values and a fresh take on tag team battles keep this game above the curve. If you are a fan of either Umineko no Naku Koro ni or fighting games in general there is no doubt that you will enjoy this game.
The English patch is available to download from Iwakura Productions.