Get ready for diminishing returns.
At first glance, Clash of Elementalists looks to be heavily inspired by Sega’s Virtual On series, a series of 3D mecha fighting games that first gained popularity in arcades and later came to several home consoles, including the PC, Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, and PlayStation 2. However, looks can be deceiving. While Clash of Elementalists shares its inspiration’s punishing difficulty and steep learning curve, it lacks what made the Virtual On series such a success.
Class of Elementalists has four game modes: Arcade, Free Battle, Versus, and Training. Arcade mode has you choose between four different characters, all of which resemble magical girls, to duke it out in a series of fights. You can determine the computer opponent’s difficulty, the amount of rounds, and the time limit for each match at the start of the mode. Free Battle mode is similar, except you’re able to choose the stage, as well as the opponent you face. Likewise, Versus allows two players to play the game via local multiplayer; however, there is no option for download play, so both players must own a copy of the game. Training is pretty self-explanatory; it’s a barebones training mode. There’s no tutorial or story to speak of.
The sparseness of the game’s modes would be fine if the main game were fun to play, but it’s not. Despite having fairly simple controls—attacks are mapped to the shoulder buttons, movement to the D-pad or Circle pad, and jumping and dashing to the face buttons—the game is insanely difficult. Part of this difficulty is likely because the game lacks any way to directly control the camera while moving, an essential mechanic in any 3D arena fighting game that uses the third-person perspective. The only options are to stand still and slowly pan the camera by pressing A and the desired direction simultaneously, or by constantly jumping, as the camera pans to the opponent with each jump. This makes attacking the other character almost impossible without constantly jumping around, as your attacks fire in the direction the camera is facing.
If anything positive can be said about Clash of Elementalists, it’s that each character actually feels different from the others. For instance, the ground type feels slower than the rest and has stronger attacks, while the ice type is faster but has weaker attacks that spread out. Of course, there are only four characters in the game, so there still isn’t much variety.
Clash of Elementalists may look like an interesting title, but its high difficulty and learning curve make its relatively meager offerings even less appealing. This is not a game worth spending hours becoming proficient at.