Battle High: San Bruno was developed by Mattrified Games and retails for 80 MSP. A copy of the game was provided for review purposes.

Battle High: San Bruno is a one-on-one fighting game akin to classics such as Street Fighter 2 and The King of Fighters. It was originally released in February 2011 but has since undergone a revision and has been named one of the finalists of the Indie Summer Uprising. Battle High is the sum of years of fighting game tropes put together. What it lacks in originality it makes up for in playability. It even benefits from the classic story of competing high school students ripped straight from Rival Schools. The inspirations for this game are many. In fact Battle High really reminds us of classic Neo-Geo fighting game Rage of the Dragons. But does this game have enough to excite fighting game fans?

Here’s what we liked:

Competent fighter – In the early 90’s there were a great many imitators to the popular fighting games of the time. Unfortunately most did not play well and were generally of low quality. We are happy to say that’s not the case here. While it may be an imitator it certainly does a quality job. The controls are sharp and responsive. Combos seem intuitive and useful. Any fighting fan will feel immediately at home.

Homage – It would be very easy for a game like this to come across as being derivative but that is not the case. It clearly takes its cues from all the classics that have come before it. Everything from its presentation, gameplay, character, and story elements feels familiar. This classic feel really improves the quality of the game.

Good characters – Creating quality characters for a fighting game isn’t easy. Battle High has all the archetypical heroes such as the tough guy, girl fighter, guy who dislikes the tough guy, fat guy, and weird guy. Even though all the characters follow fairly typical templates they are at least all original which is much more than can be said for most fighters.

Here’s what we didn’t like:

No online – It is completely unreasonable to ask an indie developer making an 80 MSP game to add quality online play. Many developers of retail games have failed to deliver on this or at least do it well. But for a fighting game having online play can make all the difference. It’s too bad Battle High doesn’t have a license to use GGPO (the net code used in Street Fighter 3 Online Edition).

Too simplistic – Battle High feels a lot more like a 90’s fighting game than a modern one. To compete in this market today there needs to be a lot more systems at work than just a super bar. Everything here works well, but there just isn’t enough complexity. There is certainly something to be said for the less is more approach, but we would have liked to have seen a bit more options in gameplay.

Nothing new – Going along with the lack of complexity is the fact that Battle High really doesn’t do anything new. To stand out from the crowd you have to innovate in some way. The game is no doubt intended to be an imitation of what has come before but we were left feeling like more could have been done.

Battle High: San Bruno is a quality title that plays surprisingly well especially considering its 80 MSP price. It’s colorful and easy to look at. It’s also entertaining and fun to play. But there is one main problem: it’s really only going to appeal to fighting game fans, but they have plenty of other games to play already. As it stands Battle High is too simple for fans to put much time into it. The game really feels like it is a template for a game that could be so much greater. This is the second revision of the game so it seems very possible that more could be added in future iterations. We are certainly hoping they do. Fans of the genre should try this game out and see what it has to offer.

Score: Try It