Ever since the launch of the Nintendo Switch, Arc System Works has released or re-released each of their flagship series to the hybrid system. These series include BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, Under night In-Birth and Bandai Namco’s Dragon Ball FighterZ. Now Chaos Code can be added to the list.
Chaos Code -New Sign of Catastrophe- is an enhanced port of the original title: Chaos Code -Sign of Catastrophe-. As usual, these enhancements include additional characters and unlockables. Unfortunately, online features are not included.
Is this offline fighter a worthy contender? Gameplay
Chaos Code Vein
Despite popular belief, Chaos Code is not developed by Arc System Works themselves. Rather, they are solely the publisher. This is the opposite of Persona 4 Arena and Dragon Ball FighterZ. Chaos Code is the love child of FK Digital. Despite this, Chaos Code plays very similarly to ArcSys’ Guilty Gear franchise. As one of the most iconic 2D fighters on the market, a comparison to Guilty Gear is certainly not a bad thing.
As with the average ArcSys title, Chaos Code -New Sign of Catastrophe- is a 4-button fighter. Standard attacks include Strong and Weak variants of Punches and Kicks. These are just the basics. Before each battle, players get to choose two different specials. Each character has a total of four to select. These are categorized as Extra Special moves and Extra Ultimate Chaos. This adds a whole level of complexity to the game. Even combatants of a mirror match may not play the same.
In addition to the standard, each character also has access to a Boss Version. While arguably overpowered, they offer a deeper delve into each character. Boss Versions have access to all four of their specials, rather than two at a time. While not particularly fair in multiplayer, they are a great way to learn each character within the game’s various single-player options.
Sword Art Offline
In terms of modes, Chaos Code -New Sign of Catastrophe- takes a safe approach. Unlike most ArcSys games, Chaos Code -New Sign of Catastrophe- does not feature a dedicated Story Mode. Instead, a story is briefly mentioned within the Arcade Mode. This is the bread and butter of the game. Here, players may take their favorite character to challenge 8 AI opponents. These generally include five to six random encounters followed by two final bosses. As the game features no online, this mode will likely see the most play.
Chaos Code (eventually) has a total of seven game modes. The usual options include Practice Mode, Survival Mode, Score Attack Mode, and an offline VS Mode. Mission Mode, meanwhile, is something less common. Chaos Code -New Sign of Catastrophe- includes a total of 41 unique missions. Each offers players different challenges. Some missions restrict moves available to the player. Others play out like a “Boss Rush.”
The Chaos Code‘s most unique “Mode” is technically a bonus game. Hidden within the in-game shop is an unlockable called Rui’s Farm. Interestingly, it has nothing to do with fighting. Rui’s Farm is a puzzle game with the elements, and theme, of farming simulation. It is a fun little distraction for the main game. While not a complete experience in itself, it is not a bad way to relax between bouts. Unfortunately, the overly sensitive controls make it more difficult than it needs to be.
A Step Back
On the subject of difficulty, AI opponents vary greatly in technique. It is certainly not unheard of for a fighting game to feature bosses with an unfair advantage. It is something of a staple. That said, certain AI opponents in Arcade Mode will focus on spamming projectile attacks. This doesn’t make the opponent feel hard as “cheap.” The worst offenders include Cerberus and Kudlak-Sin. Their fights can be to be very one-sided, one way or another. One option is that they will knock the player back and defeat them with projectiles. Alternatively, the AI becomes confused when the player gets up close and personal. On rare occasions, they practically wait to fight back. They instead opt to back away in hopes of launching yet another projectile. This results in gimmicky juggling or target practice as opposed to a proper match with the game’s final boss.
In-game, Chaos Code makes use of 2D sprites. With this design choice being the norm for 2D fighters until more recently, it feels like a natural fit. The graphics are about on par with those of Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R which was ported last year. As one of the most influential fighters of its time, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R has inspired numerous titles. Compared to Guilty Gear, animations aren’t quite as fluid. With that said, there is always a nostalgic charm about virtually any spite-based game.
Admittedly, the graphics may not stand out themselves. That is not necessarily the case with the character designs. With a cast of 16 playable characters, each stands out amongst the rest. Many of which fits pretty well with standard video game tropes. Vein, for example, looks like the Ky Kiske or Jin Kisagari of the game. With similar gameplay mechanics, this is quite fitting. Arguably the better designs are the more uncanny. Bravo, for example, is a Chinese/Italian Chef. As such, his attack animations tend to include food and cooking utensils. Cthylla, on the other hand, is an eldritch abomination of a magical girl. Its designs like these that make Chaos Code look more than “just another fighter.”
A Horse of a Different Color
The average modern fighter generally has Color Packs available as Downloadable Content. These are rarely full costumes. Instead, these are generally simple palette swaps for the characters. As much as I love BlazBlue and Persona 4 Arena, this is one form of DLC that I have never been able to condone. Chaos Code -New Sign of Catastrophe- features something that every fighter should have. Color Customization available in-game.
Within the Color Customization, players can customize each part of their character’s appearance. These options range from a character’s hair and skin color to their armor. From the getgo, each piece comes with four color options. By playing the game, it is possible to unlock an additional six per character. Unlike some features, such as Rui’s Farm, these Color Packs are easy to unlock. Simply clearing Arcade Mode twice can unlock all colors for a single character.
As with most fighters swimming outside of the mainstream, Chaos Code -New Sign of Catastrophe- does not include an English dub. The game only features original Japanese audio. With that said, it’s not very noticeable. Arcade Mode doesn’t include any voiced dialog between matches. Characters only speak in battle, which is limited to quick battle cries. While a dub or even subs would be nice, the lack of both may go unnoticed.
The subject of the game’s Soundtrack is an interesting one. As a whole, it does not establish a unique sound. With that said, many of the songs may sound familiar. That’s not to say the music is bad. Whether by accident or design, several in-game tracks sound similar to those found in other games. Several tracks wound probably feel right at home in an update of BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle or Dragon Ball FighterZ. One track in-particular sounds oddly reminiscent of Infinite’s boss music in Sonic Forces. Considering this reviewer’s fondness of Sonic the Hedgehog, that’s a compliment, to say the least.
Overall, Chaos Code -New Sign of Catastrophe- is an enjoyable fighting experience. There isn’t much that makes it unique. However, everything it attempts is mostly a success. Hopefully, possible patches for online play could give this title the second chance it deserves. Currently, the offline-only modes admittedly shrink the target audience. In the days of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s hard to currently recommend the game in the current state. This would exclude perhaps the most casual or hardcore of fighting fans.
Hey! Hey!! Listen!!! gives Chaos Code -New Sign of Catastrophe- 8 custom colors out of 10.