When reviewing the original Arcana Heart 3 back in 2011, our assessment here at Gaming Union was that it was a surprisingly good fighting game, in a technical front, with some minor issues that didn't detract hugely but could have been fixed in a follow-up iteration. Developer Examu has come back with another version of the title, this time subtitled "LOVE MAX!!!!!" (and yes, that's five exclamation marks). Does it provide enough new material to warrant picking up the newest version of the game? That depends on the type of player you are.
Since we already went into a large detail of the game's mechanics, I'll point you to our review of the original version if you want the nitty-gritty and focus the review on what's new in Love Max.
The same story mode exists again in Love Max, which still feels somewhat disjointed as you're really supposed to see these as a variety of alternate stories than an overall story that brings them all together. So you still have the all-female cast fighting for tried-and-true methods, such as taking down evil to the character who thinks the stones they need to collect are "pretty".
What is new in Love Max is the "After Story" mode, which has all of the girls attempting to get into a mysterious hot spring that they all saw on television. Since each character's story only has one fight, it allows the developers to expand on the characters a little bit more than they could in the story mode, even if it's not fully realized. And for players of the original, the developers didn't lock this mode out until completing the story mode, so you can jump right into the new material if you so wish.
Other than that, the rest of the changes are solely in the gameplay mechanics department. Unlike most upgraded fighting game iteration releases, Love Max doesn't feature any new characters and only provides tweaks and balancing changes to the existing characters from the original. So unless you are a hardcore fan of the original, most of these modification will pass by you.
If you're the type of person who always moves to the latest and greatest, such as all you Street Fighter IV fans out there, you've probably already picked this up if you enjoyed the original. If you wanted more backstory for the females, you'll enjoy the new "After Story" mode. And if you never played the original Arcana Heart 3 and wanted to get into the action, it's worth picking up this game over the original, especially if you are a Vita-only owner as this game is also released on that platform alongside the PS3 version.
But for everyone else, with all of the other fighting games coming out this year and early next year, there really isn't anything that new here to hook you into purchasing the game, unless you were already a fan to begin with. Examu played things a bit safe here and for some that's perfectly fine. But for others, the game might not have enough heart to entice them.
|There's balance changes to the existing roster.|
|New "After Story" mode delves more into the characters.|
|The same gameplay from the original is retained here.|
|No new characters.|
|Most of the balance changes will be unnoticed outside the hardcore players.|
|The lack of any major changes makes it hard to stand out from the other fighting games released as of late.|