With the recent revitalization of the Street Fighter series as well as the impending release of entries within the Mortal Kombat and Marvel vs. Capcom franchises, fighting games are enjoying a much-deserved renaissance. For Arc System Works, the renewed popularity isn’t surprising- the studio has been turning out iterations of critical darling Guilty Gear since the waning days of the Playstation One. More recently, the developer has been satisfying pugilistic desires with BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, a delightfully deep fighter filled with Arc’s trademark offbeat combatants.
Although most critics enjoyed Calamity Trigger‘s complexity and visually arresting Astral Heat attacks, many reviewers had two grievances: the game’s limited roster and character inequity. One year later, sequel BlazBlue: Continuum Shift attempts to correct those deficiencies, while adding a sizable amount of new content. While the title admirably attempts to lure in the casual player with its beginner mode and extended tutorial, fighting fans are the ones who will have a difficult time resisting Blaz’s charms.
Despite BlazBlue‘s arcade origins, the game is particularly well-suiting for console play, with its four button attack system. Players may assault with weak, medium and heavy strikes, as well as initiate a character-specific Drive Attack. Since each character has a radically different Drive-ranging from Ragna’s ability to sap an opponent’s heath to Tsubaki’s charged attacks, BlazBlue avoids some of homogeneity that afflicts other fighters. One of the other elements that sets the series apart is the sheer amount of intricacies; from guard primers, heat gauges, and barrier gauges, Blaz is an incredibly deep fighter that requests a robust amount of training.
For players unwilling to enroll the game’s comprehensive (which thankfully allows you to skip through its verbose lessons) tutorial, there’s a beginner’s mode. This new option allows neophytes to release devastating combos though a simplified control scheme which recalls Super Smash Bros. Brawl‘s single button combinations. Later candidates can try their hand at Challenge mode, which tasks players with performing a series on increasingly complicated combos. Collectively, these components present a full-fledged scholarship, which offers the ability to turn fledgling fighter into formidable foes, if apprentices are willing to invest the time.
In my review of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Portable , I enjoyed the incorporation of Legion mode. The variation presents players with a board filled with competitions; after a series of opponents are defeated, gamers may choose to add one of their adversaries to their squad, as they take on additional foes. While it offers a bit of variation to the game’s arcade and head-to-head mode, the deviation is still in desperate need to randomization. More interesting is the augmentation that’s been added to the game’s story mode.
With branching plots that include real, gag, and fail endings, there’s a surprising amount of depth in each character’s storyline. Unfortunately, it’s all rather text-heavy and exceedingly byzantine with its inclusion of time-traveling protagonists and references to the previous title. Still, the game’s narratives help introduce the new additions to the game- Tsubaki, a swordsman with a shape shifting sword, Hazama, the ghost cowboy with a far reaching steel hook, and Mu-12 an evil, turret-launching robot-girl. Skillfully, the trio complements the existing characters, while adding an supplementary dose of outlandishness.
While BlazBlue: Continuum Shift is an undeniably polished and thoroughly gratifying fighter, its recommendation comes that a few caveats. Owners of last year’s Calamity Trigger may question the inclusion of a paltry three character addition to the game’s roster while new buyers face an indistinct pricing structure for future downloadable characters. Still, the game’s $39.99 price offset s many of these concerns, ultimately making Continuum Shift a near requisite for fighting game aficionados.