The best graphics tend to get the most attention. In the console and high-end PC gaming world, developers are constantly pushing the technical limits of modern hardware. This results in stunning graphics…and higher prices. Many online games—free ones, especially—don’t have cutting-edge visuals. The truth is, they don’t need to. Anime Battle 2.0 is proof of this concept. It’s a fighting game with retro graphics, retro gameplay, and more depth than others in its class.
Available for free on Poki, Anime Battle 2.0 is the umpteenth installment in the titular series. It’s not vastly different than version 1.9, but it has enough sheen to keep the metaphorical train rolling. There are a handful of new characters, exciting arenas, and wild special moves.
When starting Anime Battle 2.0 for the first time, I was hoping for one main feature: more English text in the menus. Unfortunately, my wish was not granted. The initial menu options are displayed in English, which is nice (and expected). I can easily choose between all of the game modes. But after that, we who don’t speak or read Japanese are on our own. Selecting a character can be tough, because fighters are shown in tiny thumbnail images. Their names appear in the middle of the screen, but they are written in Japanese text. If you don’t recognize all 50 characters from tiny pictures, you might share my frustration with this part of the game here.
Language barrier aside, Anime Battle 2.0 is an excellent fighter. It’s the summation of its predecessors, tweaked and enhanced, feature by feature. This is something the Anime Battle developers have accomplished with each new version of the game. Instead of reinventing the wheel and stepping into completely new territory, they make small improvements that make a big difference. If you’ve played version 1.9, you’ll notice that 2.0 doesn’t have the occasional animation glitches during fights. Many of the existing character models have been modified with new moves. And the arenas are spectacular.
Anime Battle 2.0 has 10 arenas, and they’re all different. During the arcade campaign, you might go on a knockout journey from an Eastern dojo to a sky-high bridge. It’s important to take advantage of the surrounding landscape, because opportunity strikes randomly. If you leap atop an overhanging platform, you can deliver a crushing blow to your opponent below. Or, corner your foe in the forest, and ensure he can’t dodge your next special attack. Too many fighting games don’t make use of their environments. Anime Battle integrates the surrounding world in an essential way, and we’re thankful for it.
I’ve you’ve ever enjoyed a version of Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, you’ll feel right at home with Anime Battle 2.0. It doesn’t portray shocking violence like the MK series, but it’s a well-rounded fighting game with Arcade, Deathmatch, and Versus modes for one or two players. The most popular characters from Dragon Ball Z, Bleach, One Piece, and Naruto are here. Pick the right picture, and you’ll become an anime hero.