Reality Fighters is a fighting game that does a great job showing off the Vita’s augmented reality features. The game allows you to transform your surrounding area in to a fighting arena simply by pointing the Vita’s camera at it. Seeing digital characters duke it out atop your kitchen table or across your living room floor is sure to put a smile on your face especially if you’ve yet to play games like Photo Dojo for the Nintendo DSi. The game also features a few ready-made arenas based on real world locations so you can continue to play on the bus or other dimly lit/inconvenient places. You can also create arenas by taking a photo of a surface in front of you and pivoting the Vita left and right to scan in the rest of the environment.
Another draw of Reality Fighters and the thing that will keep you most entertained is the quirky Character Creator. Simply snap a photo of yourself or a friend (or your laptop screen after Google Imaging your favourite celebrity) and the game will map their face on to a body which you can then customize to perfection. The customization options are pretty generous allowing you to tweak everything from your fighter’s physical appearance to their fighting style and choice of weaponry (if any).
I was really impressed by the range of fighting styles that are on offer and I enjoyed putting each one through its paces. There’s a strong mixture of both serious (Boxer, Kung Fu, Wrestling etc.) and fantastical (Wizard, Cowboy, Super Hero) styles to choose from meaning you’re sure to find something that suits your character. Unfortunately the clothing options are far less impressive unless you’re purposely trying to create the most awkwardly dressed individuals ever to appear in a videogame. Having a Cow Suit complete with udders is cool but simple things such as a regular T-Shirt or a low-cut hairstyle would have been appreciated. You can also record brief intro and victory taunts for your character using the Vita’s built in microphone which is a nice touch.
Now here’s the catch… almost everything in the Character Creator needs to be unlocked using stars earned from fighting. This wouldn’t be much of a problem if the fighting mechanic were great but the game falls short in this department. In Reality Fighters, button mashers will reign supreme while those of us who grew up playing fighting games will struggle to find some semblance of depth or strategy which the game simply doesn’t require. The inclusion of Street Fighter style Super Moves is great and many of them are hilariously over the top but if that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for you should probably just pick up Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 instead.
In terms of modes Reality Fighters offers everything you’d expect. Modes include Story, Training, Survival, Time Attack, Quick Fight and both online or offline Multiplayer. The Story mode (and I use the term “story” loosely) would be completely forgettable if it weren’t for the fact that your trainer is none other than Mr. Miyagi! The Karate Kid star will appear as a floating head before and after each challenge to either berate your skills or to offer up some stern words of wisdom.
Despite having the greatest trainer of all time in my corner I still found the story mode to be way too difficult and quickly gave up on it. It’s a shame because Mr. Miyagi is fantastic and the story mode is a great way to earn stars and unlock other goodies such as characters and arenas.
Without the Character Creator and augmented arenas, Reality Fighters would be one of the most basic fighting games I’ve ever played. It may seem fun at first but after your initial hour you’ll begin to realize that the game lacks the depth and fluidity that makes recent fighters such as Mortal Kombat feel like works of interactive art.
With Reality Fighters, the developers at Novarama clearly had a different agenda and in many ways that’s ok! I had a tremendous amount of fun transforming our wimpy Koaltion editors in to a team of warriors and seeing them beat the hell out of each other. The ability to share your creations and download others would have kept me coming back for longer than a weekend but unfortunately no such feature is available.
If you like creating characters and you generally button mash your way through fighting games you’ll probably find that there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had with Reality Fighters. The rest of us will just have to accept that this game wasn’t made for us.
This review was based on a retail download copy of the game for the PlayStation Vita provided by Sony.