Battle High: San Bruno [Review]

Long Diep
Guest Writer
September 5th, 2011

Battle High: San Bruno

Mattrified Games originally released Battle High: San Bruno back on February 8th, 2011 and it was the start of the game’s growth. As with any game, there are bound to be bugs and issues to be addressed. Their forums over at Pointfiveprojects, have a thread that was started back in February that their fans have posted things to such as broken combos, infinite loop combos, etc. that they hoped would be fixed once brought to the dev’s attention. As of last week, the game got a fresh 2.0 patch release that has addressed many issues the community had in addition to giving it a little bit more polish. Following is my take on Battle High: San Bruno as it stands now on XBLA.

The story is a bit light, which is typical of most (major and indie) fighting games. That’s not a bad thing, as most fighting game fans don’t play for story too often. The plot is revolves around “The Rivals” who have taken over the school and keep control by fighting any who oppose them. Eight characters do battle for their good/evil ideals. Each of the eight fighters in Battle High: San Bruno take on a high school stereotype and those have a slight influence on their move sets. The major story scenes are the typical final battles in which the characters interact with each other by way of standard fighting game tropes.

Battle High: San Bruno

All of the characters seem to take influences from fighting games from various major franchises, with what is seemingly a major infusion of the King of Fighters games sprinkled in there. For those who don’t play fighting games very often, there are some “easy” characters to play in addition to more challenging characters. The balance of the roster should prove sufficient for both new and seasoned fighting game players. The variations in character styles are pretty distinct which mean that they avoid feeling like a palette swap. Some special moves and super moves do require a significant time investment for the nuances to be mastered, but once those are understood, players have taken a major step towards grasping Battle High: San Bruno‘s mechanics.

As far as the basic mechanics go, Battle High: San Bruno fighters each have two punches and two kicks (light and heavy), a throw button, and an overhead/jumping attack button. The default layout on the Xbox 360 controller is pretty balanced out, but the options menu does allow for complete customization of controls to the player’s choosing. For movement, there is a standard dash and an enhanced one. The latter does take a portion of the super meter away – which will have players internally debating whether to hold on for a chance to pull off a killer super move or to get up close and do some damage to recoup their loss.

The enhanced dash can be used in mid-air to help a player cross-up an opponent or for a swift evade from a super move. The rest of the mechanics are standard with most fighting games out there, so it’s more or less pretty normal stuff for those who are well seasoned in the fighting genre. The overall speed of the game is about on par with the King of Fighters series and is well-rounded to boot.

Battle High: San Bruno

The modes included are your standard Arcade, Versus, and Training modes. Versus just supports local play at as of the time this review was written, so there’s no online play mode. Borrowing from the book of major fighting game standards, Battle High: San Bruno has a Challenge mode that helps players learn basic moves of characters in addition to training them in essential “bread-and-butter” combo chains. The Extracurriculars mode is a new addition from the 2.0 revision that features 3 mini-games that are one or two player compatible depending on the particular mini-game. There’s the Shop Smash, which is a nod to the Street Fighter car crusher mini game; Tether-Barrel, a game to see who can shatter the barrel while it swings; and Bash Ball, a challenge to deflect all of the sports balls coming at the player. The mini-games are pretty fun and they can be a great distraction while also teaching a player about the attacks and ranges of their characters too.

Battle High: San Bruno is a great indie fighting game that shows a lot of heart in addition to benefiting from originating from developers who are clearly passionate about the fighting game genre. It’s a great tribute to the early days of fighting game history and is well balanced for both the seasoned fighting game veteran as well as the casual gamer. While it may not be the most cutting edge fighting game, the basic core of the game is a still great for a casual romp and is fun way to kill time. I hope that there will be even more improvements and additions to the game in the future, because I can almost feel the full potential of the game is still yet to come.
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Battle High: San Bruno
Mattrified Games
The characters are pretty nice, and the super move animations are great as well. Some of the backgrounds are a bit dull as far as presentation goes. During the rival character's pre-battle dialogue the profile images are poorly distorted, but I think that is a minor issue, at best. If the background quality matched up, the game would feel a little more whole. The 2.0 revision is quite an overhaul compared to 1.0.
The music is subtle at best and nothing too special. The sounds are plain and generic, the characters don't have any voices during battle, so the only thing you hear in matches are battle sounds and background music.
I played the game both with an Xbox 360 controller and my Hori/Seimitsu arcade stick to evaluate controls on both experiences. On the 360 controller, some moves will definitely take practice before getting them down pat. Using an arcade stick, move execution was naturally much smoother to finesse out. With using my arcade stick, I was a bit puzzled as to why commands like the throw and overhead/jumping attack needed separate buttons as they could have been condensed into combinations of buttons. For me, I felt that if the game's button choices were more condensed it would lead to much tighter control. But I can understand why some may favor separate buttons.
Game Play
The game is metered pretty well as far as speed goes. The character balance is just right. Using part of the super move meter to power-up a dash seems like an odd design choice, but it could be for the sake of balancing out the game's speed so that it doesn't have the insane pace of a hyper-fighting game.
San Bruno is mostly a standard fighting game with a few unique mechanics, but it's not something that has a good deal of advanced mechanics for fighting fans craving a challenge. The Extracurricular mini-games can be entertaining, but they do end up being more of a score challenge than anything else.


Long is an classic game fanatic who has a fond love of arcade games. He is a fan of fighting games and racing simulations and loves playing them with good friends. His true love is with Japanese curtain fire, "bullet hell" shooters. He is a gamer who believes that sometimes the best gaming gear can make the difference between a better experience in a game to increased game play skills. Even though he likes his unique games, he does enjoy FPS games, RPG's, and various other games. Long has a soft spot for indie and niche developers as some of the major games out there have soured his taste-buds.

Specialty: Bullet Hell Shooters