Battle High: San Bruno is another entrant in the now returned fighting genre, but how exactly does it fare with the increasing standards for kicking the living hell out of each other with a bunch of weirdos?
While a basic premise holds the rather lame characters together, it takes inspiration from every other fighting game in which they all want something and it just so happens, one person holds the key to it. Originality isn’t what shines in San Bruno and the text tid-bits just adds to this weird charm of lackluster-ness surrounding it.
Battle High has a shallow depth to its fighting system with the regular ‘quarter circle and punch’ (and the like) combos to try out on the 360 D-Pad. It works really well and is genuinely a great thing, regardless of the shallow nature, but only if you decide to play against another human. The AI is broken beyond belief, (other than the final fight for some weird reason) and usually results in them being backed into a corner or having erratic spasms of rubber banding (the act in which the computer tries to catch up with you and present more of a challenge). This is easily blocked and ends up being that classic scene where you hold out your hand, pressing against the head of your brother and he’s wailing away at thin air as you stand at a safe distance. While the controls work, I’d recommend you go with an arcade stick, as if you’re not the best at getting combos out (stick or no stick), you’ll find San Bruno‘s list of combos a bit tricky as they’re all unreasonably designed, in my opinion. A super move it may be, it doesn’t mean I should have to press the D-Pad in ways it shouldn’t go! I won 99% of the fights by repeatedly doing a fierce kick and forcing them to the other side of the screen while rolling my eyes waiting for the health bar to deplete.
San Bruno’s sprites are smooth and look good. There is no real blockiness and the animations are pretty slick and blend into one another during combat. It’s just a dire shame that the characters and personality surrounding the animations have the horrible habit of being sleep inducing and down right rubbish. The backgrounds are horrific as well, mucky pixel art and lazy animations plague them, making me wish I could just have an arena similar to Street Fighter 4′s training room to do battle in.
The game has this feel that we left behind in the 90′s and that most indie developers have tackled and actually gotten right, but Battle High: San Bruno feels like one of those rip-off games you’d find at the bottom of a bargain bin for the dollar asking price, it works and all, but it is just missing that certain charm and just feels all a bit average. If you’re interested in the indie market on Xbox Live, there are plenty of great games already on there for the same price and the recent Indie Game Summer Uprising defiantly has far superior games to offer.
Some people say I can’t complain about a game made by a few guys in their room and put out for a dollar but if I were to do that for every iPhone game, indie game and budget title, I’d be making excuses for everything and anything in the long run. I’m not going to judge a game differently as to whether it’s free or a dollar, sure I might merit the team for efforts and ideas, but if it all falls apart at the end of the day, I’m not going to give them the gold sticker.