Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!!
Gameplay 9
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!! has a lot to offer fans of the genre with its large roster of unique characters, interesting Arcanas and fast paced fighting. The character designs are great and it is only the pixalated sprites that let down the visuals somewhat. The fighting offers a lot of depth, but even novices can have fun by switching to Simple mode. For a great 2D fighter that is unlike anything else available on PC give Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!! a shot.

Gameplay: Fast, frantic and once you have mastered the moves, a lot of fun.

Graphics: Sprite are a little low-res and the 4:3 resolution makes things feel a bit cramped, but overall quite good.

Sound: Full Japanese voice acting and some nice albeit unremarkable background music

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Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!!

Developer: Arc System Works | Publisher: Arc System Works | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Action / Beat ‘Em Up | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Arcana Hearts is a 2D fighting series that managed to stand out even in the crowded arcade and console markets thanks to its unique cast and over the top gameplay. The series is known for its all-female cast of characters and the fact that no two of them look or play alike. It is also a series that hides a lot more depth than expect beneath its adorable manga-style visuals. Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!! is the first in the series to be released for PC and despite being a couple of years old at this point still manages to impress.

The game features a roster of 23 playable characters and with the amount of variety on display there is something for everyone. From schoolgirls and shrine maidens to ninja warriors, humanoid robots, half demons and much, much more, simply trying out all the characters can take ages. Then there is the fact that you also have 23 “Arcanas” to choose from. These celestial beings have their own unique powers and pairing them with the girls allow for new abilities. The Arcanas also each have a power and defense rating, so mixing and matching them with the girls for the perfect combinations is almost a game on its own.

When you have finally settled on a character and Arcana combo you will notice that the game has a rather sizeable selection of modes to choose from. Instead of a typical “Arcade” mode you get the “Story” mode, which features mysterious institutions that are up to no good, dimensional rifts and the imminent destruction of Japan. A lot of information are thrown at you and it is a bit hard to make sense of it all, especially if you have no prior experience with the series, but it still provides some entertainment. Characters converse with each other before battle and you can even choose your next opponent after each fight. In addition to the story mode there is also an “After Story” mode that plays out like a kinetic novel that is interspersed with fight scenes. It follows the adventures of the girls after they saved Japan and focusses mainly on a hot spring believe it or not. If this wasn’t enough you can even unlock additional stories for all the characters that can be viewed from the Gallery. The Gallery is also where you will find unlocked event CGs, illustrations, music and link animations.

For less talk and more action players can opt for the Survival Score Attack Mode, Trial Mode, Time Attack Mode, Versus Mode or Training Mode. Obviously the game also features an Online mode where players can pit their skills against real opponents. All in all the game features a ton of content and there is certainly more than enough here to keep players busy for ages.

When it comes to the actual fighting it is clear that Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!! will be a little overwhelming for newcomers to the genre. Apart from the buttons for weak, medium and strong attacks the game also features a homing button that allows for better mobility. Being able to home in on an opponent no matter where they are opens up plenty of opportunities for combo attacks and also increases the pace of the game considerably. It takes a while to get used to all the moves and abilities, so putting in the effort to practice is highly recommended. Thankfully, the game also caters to players who just want to jump in and have fun. All they have to do is select “Simple” mode for their chosen character and the game will dedicate one button for normal attacks, one for special moves and one for Arcana moves. Along with the homing dash ability this allows anyone to simply button mash their way to victory, especially on the lower difficulty settings. In Simple mode the game also automatically pairs up characters with their “official” Arcana.

It has been a few years since the original Arcana Heart 3 appeared in the arcades and while LOVE MAX!!!!! is a more recent update the visuals are starting to show their age a bit. Character designs are beautiful and varied, but the actual sprites are not as sharp as they could have been. This is especially noticeable when playing the game in 1080p. Backgrounds are large and beautiful, but slightly lacking in animation. However, this is not really something that you will notice in the heat of battle and the way the backgrounds change when you use Arcana attacks is definitely a neat touch. Perhaps the biggest sign that the game is not new is the fact that it runs in a 4:3 resolution without any widescreen support. To make up for this players can enable animations of the characters to fill the sidebars. These look a lot better than black borders, but can be a little distraction. We don’t have any complaints about the speed of the game though as it runs very smoothly.

Since it is a PC release Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!! can be played with a keyboard and while it is not as bad as we had feared the game is still best enjoyed with a controller. In fact, a controller is probably a must if you want to venture online as going up against a skilled human opponent with a controller while you use a keyboard is a surefire recipe for disaster. The game features full Japanese voice acting for all the characters and both the main story as well as after story is voiced. The sound effects are about what you would expect from an all-female cast and while the music doesn’t exactly stand out as very special there are plenty of tunes to listen to.

It is great to see titles like Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!! appearing on PC, but it is also obvious that it won’t appeal to everyone. 2D fighters are still a bit of a niche compared to the big 3D fighters such as Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. For anyone that can appreciate the art style and are not afraid to dedicate some time to mastering the movesets we wholeheartedly recommend Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!! Like we mentioned earlier it features enough content to keep players busy for ages and there really isn’t anything else like it available for PC.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1
  • Processor: Intel Core2 Duo
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: nVidia GeForce 7900 GT or better / AMD Radeon X1900 / nVidia GeForce GT 620 (Windows 8.1)
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Hard Drive: 8 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Direct Sound
  • OS: Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 / i7
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: nVidia GeForce 8800 GT or better / AMD Radeon HD3700 / nVidia GeForce GT 650 (Windows 8.1)
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Hard Drive: 8 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Direct Sound

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