You may think of Capcom's Street Fighter IV as the 3D fighter that looks 2D, but Battle Fantasia pioneered the look several months before SF4's reveal -- and it's set in a fantasy world, a somewhat underused concept in fighting games. In the grand scheme of things, though, that's nothing totally new. Soul Calibur's fanciful 16th-century backdrop is certainly different, and you can find fighting games mixed with damn near every theme if you dare delve into the depths of Japan's amateur doujin development scene.
Still, Battle Fantasia's illustrative, storybook style definitely stands out -- in fact, it's less like Soul Calibur and more like whimsical role-playing games such as Eternal Sonata. (The health bars even have hit-point values below them -- how's that for overlap?) The game recently hit Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in Japan, and 1UP have had the chance to spend some time with their import copy.