Chaos Code is a rather modest offering from Taiwanese developer FK Digital. It was originally released in arcades in 2011 and is just now seeing a North American release as a digital download on the Playstation Network.
You probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that this game is published by Arc System Works, of Guilty Gear and BlazBlue fame, as the game seems to have drawn a lot of inspiration from those works and I certainly got a Guilty Gear/BlazBlue vibe as I was playing through this title.
The characters in this game are exactly what you would expect from a title like this, meaning they are very eccentric and very over the top. A lot of people like to throw around the word cliché a lot, and I guess it wouldn’t be inaccurate here, but I don’t view this as a negative point. Crazy stuff like this is why I enjoy Asian media so much, Taiwanese in this case, but the anime influence is undeniable.
You have characters like a hardcore anime otaku, an Italian chef who loves Chinese food, and a demonic/evil magical girl just to name a few. A cool thing about this digital release is that the boss character Kudlak-Sin is playable, while he wasn’t in the arcade original. There are 13 characters overall and they are different enough as to where you won’t have trouble picking a favorite as well as not getting too bored with the various choices.
Chaos Code features your usual array of game modes that you would expect to see in a fighter. You have Story Mode, Survival Mode, Practice Mode, vs. Mode, and you can view the gallery which features some very nice artwork that you unlock by playing the game. Practice and survival are exactly what you would expect but I found the real disappointment here to be the story mode. It isn’t bad by any means, it’s just very bare bones.
In story mode, you basically pick your character and fight a bunch of guys. After each match your character says some dialogue but it’s clearly not related to any overall story as the character routinely repeated the same sequence of dialogue multiple times as I was playing through it. About halfway through you will get a special challenge from one of the characters which produces a story sequence, then you are right back to the random battles until the boss characters. You fight the 2 bosses, Celia II and Kudlak-Sin, and depending on if you met certain requirements during the game, which I think it has to do with how many supers you used to finish opponents off, you will get 1 of 2 endings. This was the standard for a while in fighting games, but seeing how games like Soul Caliber and BlazBlue handled their story modes, it’s kind of unfortunate to see something this bare bones.
The visuals in this game are very vibrant and colorful. The character sprites themselves aren’t in HD, however they are nicely detailed, very large, and very well animated. They each have their own unique mannerisms and the smooth animation really helps get their personalities across to you. The backgrounds also have to be mentioned as the game takes you around the world to a plethora of locations. The backgrounds all have a bevy of activities happening and as in any good fighting game, you sometimes get lost just looking at the background. My personal favorite was a mansion that had a bunch of photo-realistic fish swimming around in it, yes; it’s as bizarre as it sounds, but very nice to look at.
The stages each have their own theme playing and the music, while nothing groundbreaking, is quite nice to listen to and really adds to the theme of the various stages you are playing on. You get electronic music, jazz, baroque, and a mixture of all 3 at times, it’s really quite interesting.
The dialogue is all in Japanese, but subtitles are provided to help you understand the unfortunately limited story. The subtitles themselves though are very poorly translated at times, and while it’s not Castle Shikigami II bad, it’s noticeable. The good thing is that they aren’t so bad that they detract from your ability to understand what’s going on.
Now the heart of any fighting game is the gameplay mechanics, and that is where this game doesn’t disappoint at all. The controls are very responsive, easy to understand, and simple. Yes, the controls being simple is a positive thing and I will touch on that later. When you select your characters in one of the various game modes, you get to select what variety of special and super moves you would like to add to your arsenal. These aren’t the only moves you get as what you select stacks on top of your characters built in moves. This is a great idea as it gives you an opportunity to create a totally different strategic play style with the same character.
You can also select if you want your dash to be a basic running animation for a high intensity rushing offense style, or a skipping dash for a more defensive technical style. The fact that they created all these different ways to play is fantastic as some people would say the character roster is quite limited at 11 (+2 boss characters).
The combat itself is instantly recognizable to anybody who has played fighting games before. Lots of quarter circles, half circles, etc. and you also have a cancel to get out of enemy combos, or even continue your own combos for extending your own combos. As you play, your super meter builds up and you can then execute the super moves. These are very easy to pull off, and they’re quick and quite flashy at times, everything you would want a super to be. Another interesting thing to note is that the super meter builds up very quickly. However, the super moves themselves aren’t so powerful that you can’t fight back after being hit with them, especially since you will probably have a super of your own.
Now, earlier I mentioned how the controls are simple and I really think that is where this game really shines. I have run into my fair share of hard to understand or just flat out confusing game mechanics, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as a deep fighting game is the most satisfying to master. The great thing about this game being so simple though is that I can’t think of a better starting point for somebody to get into a 2D fighting game.
The controls and mechanics in this game are all very simple to get down really quickly. There really aren’t too many moves more complicated than a quarter circle or two and that even includes the super moves themselves. The cancel is easy to pull off and execute and it can really help you understand how cancels work in deeper fighting games. Everything about this game just screams ease of use and I think that is a great thing. I can’t count how many times I have heard people say: “I really love fighting games, but I just can’t get into them since I suck so much”. Well, this is the game for those people and I really think that should be celebrated.
All in all, I quite enjoyed Chaos Code. Yeah, it’s quite disappointing that it is such a bare bones game with a weak story mode and no online play. Yes, it has a rushed and bad translation job, and while all those things are legitimate complaints, the gameplay itself rises above all those issues. A side note – online play is planned as a later patch, so that will exponentially increase the replayability of the game. Whether you are a fighting game veteran looking to get your friends into the genre, since they won’t play you due to you beating them in 2 seconds every match, or a gamer looking to get into the genre, this is a great starting point. It’s only $11.99 on PSN, so please check Chaos Code out.