With shows like Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, and Metal Heroes (and tokusatsu in general) not having that big of a presence outside of Japan, you can just imagine how excited I was to hear that the latest game in the Kamen Rider Climax Heroes series was going to be released in English, making it the first Kamen Rider game ever to hold that distinction!
My mind was blown; at long last, a Kamen Rider game I could thoroughly enjoy every minute of without having to worry about miscommunication or region locking, and featuring over 20 Riders from the past several years.
Would this game live up to the hype? Let’s take a journey through the Decades and find out!
I just wanna say how happy I am that they managed to bring back a lot of the old Heisei and Neo-Heisei actors to reprise their roles; that alone makes this game worthwhile for me.
Sound effects are crisp and a treat to listen to, especially when executing a Rider’s special moves and hearing that satisfying “crunch” that signals a successful hit. The soundtrack is pretty cool too, though I wish they were able to bring back the instrumental main themes whenever a Rider transforms into his final form instead of the generic music that plays.
Every Rider is meticulously detailed to look as close as possible their real-life counterparts, from the proportions used to even the texturing on their armors. The colors used for the different stages blend well together with the Riders themselves, and everything is clearly defined so as to prevent those at a distance from being lost in the backgrounds. Everything is bright and colorful too, and it’s sure to catch anyone’s attention.
The game features a story mode campaign setting which allows the player to unlock various wallpapers and other trinkets for the player’s avatar as they play through it. The “story” itself is honestly pretty shallow, and I see it as more of a way to familiarize oneself with the gameplay of each Rider before using it in PvP games (like a sampler of sorts).
Climax Fighters features every single main Heisei and Neo-Heisei Rider from Kamen Rider Kuuga to Build, as well as secondary Riders from Kamen Rider Double to Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, though sadly lacks anyone from the Kamen Rider Amazons net series (too violent, guys?).
Kamen Rider Black is also present in the game, making him the only representative from the Showa era of Kamen Rider shows. This is a bit of a disappointment, to be honest, since I would have liked to play as some of the older Riders as well, but I’m happy to see that Black managed to be the one they picked to represent the Showa era. I suppose this is meant to coincide with Kamen Rider Black’s 30th Anniversary in 2017! So, good on ya, Black!
Combat in this game is fast-paced, aggressive, and invigorating. Any Kamen Rider fanboy worth his salt will spend hours upon hours just mastering his favorite Riders’ move sets and coming up with combos until his thumbs go sore. Nothing quite compares to the feeling of being able to pull off a move from your favorite Rider (in my case being Kamen Rider Double), while yelling out whatever attack name or catchphrase he yells in unison; it’s a genuine feeling of childlike giddiness.
Every attack a Rider does has him use either one of his many different upgrades from the show, such as Kamen Rider Drive’s Tire Koukan changes for weak attacks (Max Flare, Midnight Shadow, etc.), or transform into one of his many forms for strong attacks (Type Speed, Type Technic, Type Wild, etc.).
Initially, the idea had seemed gimmicky to me, as I expected to see less of a Rider’s secondary forms pop up while attacking, and more of his default form unless I pressed a button to Henshin into a different one. As I kept playing and trying out different combos, however, I slowly became more used to the constant form changes, and appreciated the fact that they decided to add this feature, which wasn’t present in previous Climax Heroes titles.
The transitions between combos felt very smooth and more in-line with how the Riders in the show would actually use their abilities in combat. There’s also a novel brilliance with how the game goes about portraying each of the Riders’ signature finishing moves, the Rider Kick. While some Rider Kicks are the typical “flying kick” attack, other ones such as Kamen Rider Kabuto’s roundhouse kick which, despite landing an almost OHKO strike if pulled off successfully, takes some time to build up and charge, leaving him prone to attacks, but at the same time remains faithful to how this is portrayed in the actual show.
One of the major upgrades Climax Fighters was able to accomplish was to set all stages in a full-3D rendered arena, similar to Dragonball Xenoverse, as opposed to the typical, Tekken-style stages present in the previous titles. This allows for a far greater range of depth and motion, and doesn’t limit the actions a Rider can perform if he were in a 2D space.
With this, however, I move on to the main gripe I have with the game: the camera.
Admittedly, with full 3D arenas being implemented, the camera work was indeed going to be a hurdle the developers were going to have to jump through. While most of the time, the camera was relatively focused and follows the player well across the arena, there were also times where the camera tended to pull back and focus on another Rider instead of the one I was controlling, and this was especially frustrating during 2-Player battles when I’m playing with a friend, since the camera would almost always focus on Player 1.
A splitscreen might be able to remedy this, I think? But I guess it’s up to the developers to decide.
Another nice addition to the game was the introduction of the Special and Evolution gauges, which allows a Rider to transform into either his “Super” form (such as Kamen Rider Double’s FangJoker form) or his “Final” form (such as Kamen Rider Double’s CycloneJokerExtreme form), respectively, until the specific gauge runs out.
While transforming into these forms isn’t new to the series, the fact that things are now playing out in a 3D space changes everything. In a 3 or 4 Player fight, everyone now runs the risk of getting hit by someone’s finishing move, and not just the one being targeted, leading to many, many moments of hilarity because of, say, accidentally getting caught in Type Tridoron’s laser or Kamen Rider Black’s Satan Saber.
The little visual cue that pops up before unleashing the finishing move was a nice touch too, though, as I mentioned before, it would’ve been nice if they played the instrumental theme songs of each specific Rider when they do these attacks. I might be nitpicking here, but it’s something I really, really would have appreciated.
Final Verdict – 8/10
Kamen Rider Climax Fighters is a fun and addictive fighting game that I as a fan of the series really do enjoy. It took a lot of risks by shifting its focus to a full 3D game, but apart from the camera, I think it managed to pull off pretty well.
If they ever make an update for the game, like a DLC or something, I really hope it’s the addition of more Riders, especially the Showa Riders or Tertiary Riders from the Heisei/Neo-Heisei series… And hey! This is the first Kamen Rider game to be released in English too! That’s more than enough reason for fans to pick this up. Check the game out when you can, and let’s finish this with no continues!!
Kamen Rider: Climax Fighters is available now on the PlayStation 4! You can check out the trailer here!
Editors note: Thanks to Joshua Daniel Flores for this extensive review. For those into miniature wargaming you can check out some of the author’s works here.