Granblue Fantasy: Versus

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Granblue Fantasy: Versus Game Poster Image
Classic fantasy with unique characters packs a punch.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The game has an overall theme of good versus evil. Characters fight for their own generally honorable motivations, but it's still basically just an excuse to get everyone together for one on one combat.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The game has a diverse cast of characters, most of which are following their own callings and motivations. While many are portrayed as heroic, some are more roguish or even evil characters with more selfish motivations. Still, these aren't addressed on any deep level, and just provide a backdrop for the fights.

Ease of Play

Fighting's surprisingly easy to pick up and play for the amount of depth and diversity of the characters' abilities.

Violence

This is a fighting game, so violence is key to the experience. Still, most moves are flashy effects and over-the-top animations. Players use combinations of medieval weapons, melee attacks, and magical abilities to defeat their opponents. Some blood does occasionally appear onscreen, though there are no extreme or graphic depictions of violence.

Sex

Many female characters are shown in a sexualized manner, with lots of cleavage, bare buttocks, and the like, all of which are spotlighted constantly through convenient camera angles.

Language

The word "ass" appears occasionally in dialogue.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Granblue Fantasy: Versus is a fantasy 2.5D fighting game available on PlayStation 4 and Windows PCs. Players choose from a roster of characters from the popular Granblue Fantasy series and fight in either local or online matches against other players or play solo in the game's story mode.  Since this is a fighting game, violence is constant, with players using a combination of medieval weapons, magic, and martial arts against opponents. The violence is over-the-top and exaggerated, but there's little blood ever actually shown onscreen. Many female characters are presented in a sexualized manner, with lots of exposed cleavage and the like, accentuated by convenient camera angles. Characters will also make comments laced with sexual innuendo.

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What's it about?

GRANBLUE FANTASY: VERSUS takes a new spin on the Granblue Fantasy universe, bringing the colorful cast of characters from the popular mobile RPG (role-playing game) series over to the realm of 2D fighting. Built for beginners and veteran fighting game fans alike, Versus uses an instantly accessible battle system that's simple to pick up and play while offering a rich depth of strategy that allows for brutal combos, methodic pacing, and quick reflexes to turn the tide of battle. Players will duke it out against friend and foe alike in one-on-one matches for both local couch co-op or online battles. Then, you can try your hand at the side-scrolling beat 'em up Story mode, where you can uncover the secrets that have led to these fights, as well as each character's personal motivations and justifications. Loyalty. Justice. Power. Fame. Fortune. No matter why you choose to fight, remember that what's important is who's left standing when the dust settles. To the victor goes the spoils.

Is it any good?

If you've never heard of the Granblue Fantasy series before now, you're probably not alone. The mobile role-playing series from Cygames has been a huge hit in Japan for more than six years now, but it's so far failed to find a niche for itself here in the States, which, oddly enough, actually works in Granblue Fantasy: Versus' favor. Without any preconceived notions or expectations to measure up to, it's an opportunity to introduce the franchise's unique flavor to a whole new audience. It doesn't hurt that the fighting mechanics have been handled by Arc Systems Works, the folks behind the hit BlazBlue and Guilty Gear fighting games. Using similar gameplay mechanics, Granblue Fantasy: Versus is surprisingly easy to pick up and play, with basic combos that string together smoothly. It's great for beginners looking to feel like they're brawling champs, while those with more experience can start to pick up on the nuances of the game's timing to show off that there's more involved than button mashing.

As much fun as the fighting in Granblue Fantasy: Versus can be, it's not perfect by any means. For starters, when playing the solo Story mode, the game shifts from a fighting game to more of a side scrolling beat 'em up style of play. Players take on swarms of enemies, broken up by the occasional boss fight. It's a boring and repetitive shift on gameplay that's just not a lot of fun. If not for the fact that this is the only way to expand on the characters' story in any significant way, this would be a mode best ignored in the grand scheme of things. Besides, actually fighting in the standard versus modes more than makes up for the story mode's shortcomings.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Granblue Fantasy: Versus affected by its constant focus on combat and hand to hand attacks? How can the violence presented in fighting games potentially affect the behavior of younger kids that might try to emulate the moves they see?

  • How often are women presented in an objectified way in gaming? How much progress has been made over the years, and how much more work needs to be done?

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