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REVIEW | “Chaos Code” Filled With Fighting Personality

Posted on September 9, 2013 AT 02:38pm

Chaos Code has left a big smile on my face, and I have no idea why. Perhaps it’s because of its memorable characters. Maybe it’s the cool moves you can pull off in it. It could be that its old-school look beams with nostalgic charm.

Or maybe, just maybe, I can’t stop smiling because Chaos Code is one of the best arcade fighters I’ve come across in years.

Originally an arcade game from Japan Chaos Code gives you fourteen fighters to choose from, each with their own unique traits and back stories. These fighters have come to battle one another in order to retrieve a powerful energy source that can rule and destroy worlds. Some are battling to lay claim to the power, others to conceal it and keep it out of the wrong hands. A couple are just looking for a reason to fight, and this sounded just as good as any.

Once you pick your character in either Story or Versus Mode, you are then tasked to pick two out of the four special attacks you can choose from. After that the option of running or dashing is given (and yes, there is a difference), a choice that must be taken carefully depending on which special attacks you decided on. Pick the wrong one, and your biggest attacks may not work the way you want them to.

How you use your special attacks depend on your strategize yourself, and with the variety of characters you’ll be going up against there is not a lot of room for trial-and-error. You can save up your chaos energy and go full blast when you need it most, or use it every time when available. The more chaos you build up, the more powerful the attack you can pull.

Sometimes you’ll find it comes in handy to initiate Exceed Chaos, which can be activated when filling up three stocks of chaos. When in effect you can use as many special attacks as you’d like, your health meter can refill, and you can cancel just about any enemy attack. There is, however, a downside, and that is if you use it then you will not be able to fill your chaos gauge for a brief period of time. While it’s a short amount you’ll have to wait, the wrong defense while waiting for it to reinitiate can lead to your doom.

Controlling Chaos Code with the DualShock controller is a lot easier than one would believe, even with its complex combo system. With a nice maneuver system and practice mode to go through pulling off the best and brightest moves will become a cinch. That said as it’s an arcade port the best way to play it will probably be an arcade stick, but if you can’t afford one then it’s really no big loss.

Even on the easiest setting this game can have its challenging moments. In one Story mode run-through with Hermes I was going through my battles with ease for the first few fights. Suddenly I went face-to-face with Celia, and found myself losing fight after fight with her until I changed my special attacks and finally took her out as both our health was near total depletion.

Then came the final boss with Kudlak, which took a solid forty minutes to finally take him down! This game is about timing yourself right, especially during the last fight, and if you don’t stay calm and pace yourself correctly you’ll be bruising up your leg as you punch it furiously after each defeat. (Trust me: what Kudlak can do to you in ten seconds would make even M. Bison sit in a corner and bawl his eyes out.) If you are able to do that, then you should be able to beat him with a few good combos to the face.

Each character in Chaos Code has their own special uniqueness, whether it’s the double-team efforts of Cait & Sith or the tactical maneuvers of Kagari. No other character shows off more personality, though, than the cross-dressing manga writer named Catherine. Every time you pull off a maneuver with him he suddenly transforms into another costume, ranging from Musketeer and high school swimmer to cheerleader and mermaid.

That’s what gives this game its extra charm: it’s unexpected humor. In one victory pose Cthylla pulls out her throne, and as she sits down it falls backwards, with the queen of the ocean having a puzzled look on her face. Even the background scenery has some pretty funny eye-catches, some that you have to look closely to see and others that are, well, not so subtle.

There are, however, a couple of flaws with Chaos Code. A lot of back-and-forth Japanese banter between characters happens during battles, and sadly none of it is translated for those outside of Japan to understand. A shame, considering that we may be missing out on some more humorous dialogue. (I did catch a moment where Celia called Catherine a hentai, which got a big chuckle out of me.)

When there are subtitles, though, you may find that half of the words will be misspelled. During Catherine’s End Story A video they misspelled his name five different times. It was more funny than eyebrow-raising, though, as I get that Arc System Works is translating this game themselves without any third-party support. Still, couldn’t they have hired at least one English-speaking native to double-check everything to make sure it was all clear for takeoff? (As someone who used to peer-edit his Japanese friends’ English papers, I can tell you that it’s fairly easy to get it done.)

With two endings per character, some cool unlockable art, and an update currently in the works to bring the fights online you can bet that there is reason enough to keep on coming back to Chaos Code. Plus if you can get a few friends to come over you can set up a pretty awesome fighting tournament that will have you all spending hours of playtime battling it out with one another.


  • Great characters, back stories
  • Move lists, specials are cool to watch
  • Offers a great challenge, even on easiest setting


  • No in-fight dialogue translations
  • Subtitles have multiple misspellings


If you own a PS3 and like fighting games, then there’s no real reason why you shouldn’t grab Chaos Code. Sure the English translations aren’t the best, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is an outstanding title. With enough word-of-mouth Chaos Code can become quite the mainstay in fighting game tournaments, maybe even a crowd-favorite. If this is the first of a franchise, then you can expect a bright future for the world of Chaos Code.

FINAL GRADE: 9.0 (out of ten)

PSN review code provided by Gail Salamanca of Arc System Works USA

An accomplished music, anime, and video game critic, Evan Bourgault has been a Contributing Editor and Podcast host with ElectricSistaHood since 2008. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Follow Evan on Twitter at

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