|Version Reviewed: PC
Doujin circle Tasogare Frontier first released the fan-made Eternal Fighter Zero in 2000. With its high production values, on equal footing with a commercially produced game, it quickly became very popular and was soon followed by two expansions. Flash forward to 2005, and we have the introduction of Eternal Fighter Zero –Memorial–, which integrates Eternal Fighter Zero and the expansion packs Blue Sky Edition and Bad Moon Edition, while bringing a couple of improvements of it’s own to the table.
The most immediately noticeable change from the previous version is in the redesigned interface. I consider it to be a definite improvement overall, and significantly more aesthetically pleasing than Bad Moon Edition’s. Aside from this and the inclusion of some additional fanart for the loading screens, Memorial’s visuals remain as they were – high quality sprite work coupled with shiny special effects. Though the latter has begun to show its age as of late, it’s still quite adequate and integrates nicely into the game. Memorial also features a re-arranged and re-sampled soundtrack. The audio quality is overall significantly higher than that of its predecessors, and the re-arrangement retains the feel of the original while reinterpreting it nicely – the hallmark of a good remix. For the purists, the original BGM is included as an option as well. Unfortunately, the characters are still officially unvoiced.
EFZ –Memorial– plays as expected: largely like Guilty Gear, but with a mix of characteristics from several other fighting games. The same could be said about the fighting styles of the characters, which also exhibit a heavy influence from several existing games. However, the twist is in the execution – the characters involved are not from fighting games, and it’s quite amusing to see Tsukimiya Ayu from Kanon riding a giant taiyaki into her enemy, or Kirishima Kano from Air casting magical spells from Ragnarok Online. Each of the fighters is unique in style and well balanced (with the exception of Kanna). 2 new fighters have been added: Minase Nayuki (awake), and Minase Akiko, both from Kanon. As mentioned above, Kanna from Air has been made into a playable character, albeit a rather unbalanced one that will hopefully be modified in a patch.
The best experience, as with any game in this genre, is had when fighting a friend of equal skill level, which brings up an important issue: finding opponents. Being a doujinshi game targeted at Japan, the sad reality is that human opposition can be difficult to find outside of Asia. Netplay does exist, but in the limited form of a fan-made hack that requires optimal network conditions. Expect to have to search far and wide for a rival, or to have to convert a friend. The game’s difficulty level is rather high when compared to a mashable fighter such as Soul Calibur and although the learning curve isn’t excessively steep, experience in the genre is definitely an asset. Arcade mode still lacks a plot, and while the computer provides a decent challenge when human players aren’t around, at the harder difficulty levels it descends into the “cheapness” of impossible counters and reaction time well beyond that of humans.
For those who already have EFZ, Tasofro was nice enough to provide a patch that brings Bad Moon Edition and Blue Sky Edition up to Memorial’s version, minus the updated soundtrack. But if you haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, Eternal Fighter Zero –Memorial– provides the perfect opportunity to get the whole series in one package. A highly recommended game for fans of fighters and bishoujo games alike that will keep you coming back for “just one more round.”