Magical Battle Festa is a Windows-only arena fighting game made by Japanese developer fly-system. Set in a world where a new substance called magicore has been discovered in all living things and is refined via "cauldrons" for widespread use, Magical Battle Festa asks players to choose a magical girl or boy and fight others in arena matches as training for battle against the spectres that have arisen to plague humanity in the wake of the magical revolution. These mages don't go into battle alone, however. They are aided by a small army of magibots, whose formations can be changed on the fly to give their controller different bonuses.

Having all those magibots on the field can make things pretty hectic. With you and your enemy both using magibot formations, it can sometimes be hard to find your actual opponent if you aren't paying careful attention. The nice thing is that beating the crap out of the enemy magibots so that the opponent loses formation bonuses is a good idea, and once they're dormant they kinda get out of the way. With the magibots crowding up the screen coupled with an unforgiving learning curve in the story mode, however, this game is not great for people unfamiliar with or bad at fighting games. For people who play these kinds of games regularly, however, the magibots add an extra layer to the strategic elements of gameplay. It also supports local and network multiplayer.

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Aesthetically, Magical Battle Festa screams anime. The game opens on a loading screen and tells you to push a key once loading is complete. From that point on, you are in a playable anime wonderland. The game has an anime-style theme song and an opening sequence that uses in-game models and footage (plus some concept art) to make it look like you're actually starting up an anime, rather than a game. In story mode, each storyline battle is preceded and followed by cutscenes that are loaded with common anime tropes. Many of the fighters have someone they want to protect, the initial main character is cheerful (but not so smart), the word "rivals" makes an early appearance, and of course the opponents aren't going to lose to you.

None of this is inherently bad, though people who don't like anime may not enjoy it so much. The anime feel is reinforced by the voice acting, which includes people who've worked on popular animes such as Attack on Titan. There are two versions of the game, however, one with voicing only during battles and one with voicing during cutscenes as well. The fully voiced version costs $21.99 and the other version is available for $14.99, giving people who dislike Japanese anime voice acting an option to avoid it altogether.

This game is best played with a controller, though it does support keyboard controls. Button combinations for dodging and attacking and changing formations can really turn your hands into pretzels on a keyboard, especially if you feel a need to change the defaults so that WASD is used for movement instead of the arrow keys. If you want to change controls, however, or a number of other options including window size, you'll have to do so using a separate configuration utility before starting the game up. There are some options in the game, but it's worth giving the configuration tool a good looking over before getting started the first time. There's also an HTML manual (offline, just need a browser) included with the game which is good to read before playing even though there is also a set of tutorials to help you learn the controls.

Magical Battle Festa is available exclusively through Playism and is available for Windows only.

[Magical Battle Festa]