Novarama, maker of Invizimals, continues to spearhead SCE’s augmented-reality charge, and to deliver games with stale personalities. It’s fortunate, then, that Reality Fighters encourages you to add your own flavour to this 2D fighter with 3D character models. Mapping your face and adding your voice to a model may be a simple gimmick, but doling out punishment to a recognisable friend has a quirky charm.
As with Invizimals, an AR detection card can help set up fights wherever you are, but there’s also the added bonus of being able to simply point the camera and watch as fighters are laid down automatically. It can be inconsistent, with combatants appearing in unlikely places, but it’s mostly functional and an encouraging demonstration of the technology, with fights licking along smoothly. The irony is that Novarama’s AR innovation is also the game’s biggest flaw: as the camera jiggles around, it can seriously interfere with the solid (if derivative) combat. The developer has borrowed its core fighting from the best, namely Capcom’s 2D beat ’em ups, but it lacks the aesthetic appeal to elevate it from robustly enjoyable to dazzling.
As a proof of concept, Reality Fighters is convincing, but it’s sub-par as a high-priced fighting game, trailing the competition and offering novelty in place of substance. Augmented reality on Vita has been proven as a viable tool, so now it just needs to be applied to a more suitable genre than the 2D fighter to truly exploit its potential.