A few years after its initial release on consoles, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] promises to be the definitive version of the cult arcade brawler. It’s also being released for the Playstation Vita, which is the platform we playtested on.
Say what you want, but I believe the Playstation Vita is a great handheld for fighting games. Between Injustice, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter X Tekken and BlazBlue tons of great fighting games have been released for the system. I’m still sad we never got a “proper” Street Fighter title (especially because one came out for the 3DS!), but there’s a great library of games for fighting game fans to enjoy. The BlazBlue games arguably rank as the best ones of the bunch, but Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] isn’t too far behind.
We actually reviewed the previous iteration of the game, titled Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late, when it hit the PC platform about a year and half ago. The review is still available and talks much more about the game and its back story – we’ll focus on the Vita version and the changes in Late[st] this time.
It’s actually great to see this on the Vita – it feels like it’s a much better fit for the game than the PS4 is at this time. Visually we’ve seen the likes of Injustice 2 on the PS4, and even the latest Guilty Gear is a better looking fighter than Under Night is. We’re seen amazing remakes and remasters on the PS4, but Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] still pretty much looks the same as its 2012 arcade original. But…. on the Vita, this doesn’t matter at all – on the Vita, it’s a gorgeous fighter that feels pretty close to the excellent BlazBlue titles available for the handheld. It also helps that the art is crisp and the animation well done – even when characters take up the entire height of the screen.
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] is also part visual novel, and although it’s a genre I’ve gotten to appreciate over the past few years I couldn’t quite get into the story and writing in this case. Perhaps it’s a case of the genre blend not sitting quite right with me, or perhaps the writing in games like Danganronpa is just of a better quality. For those who enjoy the story, the new Chronicle mode adds extra insight into the backgrounds of the various characters, giving the proceedings in the main story a more fleshed out feeling.
Also new is the inclusion of a few brand new characters, bringing the roster up to a respectable 20 fighters in total. Out of the four new characters I’m currently enjoying Mika the best, with his Bionic Commando-type gauntlets that she uses for grappling attacks and moving around quickly. And if having four new characters wasn’t enough there are also new game modes to enjoy besides the aforementioned Chronicle mode. Most of these aren’t go-to modes in the long run, but they do provide scenarios/missions that will allow you to get a better understanding and control of a character’s moveset.
The roster of fighters that’s on offer feels well-balanced and diverse – even with the four new characters that have been added. There’s also a good tutorial that will help you get to grips with the controls. While I’ve seen similar games on Steam in terms of art style (such as Melty Blood), none seem as fully-featured and well-rounded as this one. It may not have as much shine and polish as BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma does on the Vita, but it’s been years since we had a fighter this good for Sony’s handheld.