Battle Fantasia hands-on

With publisher Aksys prepared to announce a US release this weekend, we thought the time was right for a hands-on with this fantasy-themed fighter from the minds who created the Guilty Gear series.Battle Fantasia is a hodgepodge of fairytale characters living in a magical kingdom and beating the stuffing out of each other. Think of what it might be like if your favorite cutesy RPG characters had a big meeting and decided they'd rather be in a 2D face-basher like Street Fighter - that's what it's like. The sixteen fighters come straight out of a storybook, including a rabbit dressed as a wizard, a cat-girl, several sorceresses, one big, round Viking and at least one pirate.

It's a serious fighter, but it's been infused with role-playing features, too. Under the standard top-of-the-screen health bar is numerical indicator of how much life is left (which serves the same purpose). Anytime you take damage a number will pop on screen to show exactly how much. Not all characters are created equally, as the giant flaming suit of cast-iron armor starts with over 6,000 life, and the boy-priest wears schoolyard shorts and starts just south of the 3,000 mark.

Above:Yes, we know a lightsaberchainsaw makes no sense. Still cool.

Each fighter has a set of regular moves plus a few special attacks that'll drain their power meter - a gauge at the bottom of the screen that charges as characters attack and block. Most of the special attacks are the standard kind that hurt a lot if you get in the way, but there are a few oddballs. Our favorite from Marco, the mini-knight, summons a blue dragon to float over his head and roast the guy trying to fight Marco.