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Fate/unlimited codes: The Holy Grail of Fan Service
Company: Capcom

For years now, I have been wondering what all the fuss was about for fighting games on the PSP. The screen is too small to see the details, the placement of the buttons would generally cause the whole system to shake in your hands during an intense match, and fighting wirelessly is too imprecise to be satisfying to most people. Capcom is known for being kings of fun fighting games, so when I heard they are bringing over a digital PSP version of Fate/unlimited codes, my first two thoughts were: "Awesome! I can't wait to sink some time into another great Capcom game," and the other thought was "What the hell is Fate/unlimited codes?"

You can't blame me for being somewhat ignorant about a franchise that only exists in Japan and is based off of a popular manga/ anime series called Fate/stay night. Immensely popular with our neighbors to the east, Fate/unlimited codes (or an entry in the franchise) has already been released once in the arcades, twice on the PS2, and now on the PSP. Capcom is taking a shot in the West, but I still have my reservations about how good a fighting game can be on a handheld. But from what the developer Eighting is showing off here (who also made the upcoming Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and numerous Naruto games), I may have to rethink my opinion after all.

Fate/unlimited codes has a story that involves more than a dozen characters searching for the Holy Grail, which purportedly grants the user any wish. As is customary with these types of plots, there are a group of evil doers that want the Grail for selfish means and some dynamic heroes that want to save the world. There are some pretty solid archetypes that anime fans will quickly recognize. There is a strong, independent heroine in Saber that carries an invisible sword. There is a brooding, mysterious stranger that has an important mission to accomplish named Archer (although he fights with swords, not a bow.)The main character of the series is a na´ve young teenager by the name of Shiro that gets mixed up the conflict after he discovers he has magical abilities. The inspiration seems to come from equal parts Bleach, Death Note, and DragonBall. So if you have a propensity for anime and the type of action that it brings, Fate/unlimited codes has more than enough fan service to satisfy any fan's wish.

Apart from a deep storyline, Fate/unlimited codes is offering a deeper fighting system too. Fate/unlimited codes is a 3D weapon-based fighting game. It sounds strange at first, but take the best parts from Soul Calibur and fuse them with equal shares of Street Fighter and Fate/unlimited codes would be the illegitimate creation born from the two great fighters. Fate/unlimited codes is a four button fighter which means there is a low, medium, and high attack for each character as well as a guard button which is more versatile as you progress. Flashy super moves and finishing moves can be used during matches and after looking at the move list for each character, Fate/unlimited codes seems to be more about a good strategy going into a match than it is about quick reflexes and impeccable execution.

As it stands now, Fate/unlimited codes offers over a dozen characters to start with and a few unlockables along the way. There are typical Arcade and Versus modes for quick fights on the go. If you are the type of fighter that wants to practice a lot more, then Practice and computer matches are where you need to spend your time. I actually found myself spending much more time in the Missions mode than with regular story because missions are structured like training tests. Some missions task you to defeat a certain character within a time limit, while others require you to master a complex combo string before moving on. As a reward for completing the missions, bonus mini-games are unlocked which feature all of the characters from the story in bizarre and fun events.

Fate/unlimited codes has much more content to offer than I first thought. There are still a few problems like translation errors and a few bugs that prevent me from clearing certain missions, but from what I have played so far, I can't wait to see how things turn out and I might just have a go-to fighting game on my PSP. Keep an eye out for the full review in a few weeks.

-HanChi, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Hanchey
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