Seeing that it took ArcSys a long time to notice that the Guilty Gear fandom didn’t really continue onwards to BlazBlue, they finally decided to port GG Accent Core Plus. However, they can just blame themselves, or Daisuke Ishiwatari, who said in an interview that Guilty Gear fans are too old for video games. Fighting words from a man who still tries to look like he still is twenty. So BlazBlue was created to be accessable to new players. What they meant with that was something less desireable.
Guilty Gear had a large fanbase. It came out and became a mainstay fighting game during the big name fighting games’ absence, mainly Street Fighters, or any CAPCOM’s fighting at that matter. Nobody really cared about the King of Fighters, as it had been stuck in a loop for some time and the 3D games didn’t do much to elevate it’s life. So Guilty Gear almost became the only proper choice for 2D fighting. It did not only offer something nice to look at, but good and fast fighting as well, with some of the best fighting game musics to date.
There’s exactly two people who are willing to play Guilty Gear with me, and even then we’ve agreed that I shouldn’t use Dizzy
When Guilty Gear Accent Core Plus was released, Guilty Gear went on a hiatus. Everybody expected the following version to bring something new to the story, to the characters and to the balance. Accent Core Plus was one of the most balanced, fun to play and well played game, so naturally ArcSys would finally bring us completely new Guilty Gear out of the XX series. Well, no. As in the staff mentions in the interview linked above, they wanted a whole new audience because they felt that the Guilty Gear fans were getting old.
Now, let me get few things out. It’s 60% harder to get new customers than keeping the old ones. Keeping the old customers is easy and cheap in comparison. Abandoning your current customers because you want new ones can lead to a business suicide. The company may have to invest more resources to a completely new and different product for the new audience, put loads of manpower for a new ad campaign and put high amounts of effort to showcase that this product is for YOU. After all this you’ll most likely fail, or will lose money rather than gain it.
ArcSys did this with BlazBlue. The biggest selling points they had was HD 2D sprites with 3D stages, dramatic story mode and lag free online fighting… and that it was made by the guys who crafted the Guilty Gear series.
The first BlazBlue hit the shelves and got a positive reaction. In every review it was compared to Guilty Gear, and the general agreement seemed to be that it was Guilty Gear’s little brother. It had a small character selection, the graphics were nice and the music was a disappointment. Some of the Guilty Gear fans didn’t move over to BlazBlue, but the newborn crowd that hadn’t stepped into the complex and large world of Guilty Gear gladly purchased a pretty 2D game for their brand new HD systems for some street credit (read as; for enlarging their e-penis.) Most of Guilty Gear fandom in general play multiple fighting games, and they naturally wanted their hands on this new game.
Personally, I’ve got nothing against BlazBlue. I’ve got a lot against ArcSys management for letting Guilty Gear to die out while they try to start a new phenomena. Guilty Gear grew complex with time, not that it wasn’t rather complex to begin with, but there’s a reason I can’t satisfy my hunger with BlazBlue. BlazBlue is Guilty Gear lite by all means, to put it simply. Every character had rather large movelist and thus options what to pull off. You could link high amounts of normal attacks together without thinking about the special moves that much. Four attack buttons and was enough; Punch, Kick, Slash and Heavy Slash. In BlazBlue most of the characters moves have options within themselves. The most clear example of this would be Noel with her Gunkata styled Drive combos. The amount of unique moves is rather limited, just like with the King of Fighters XIII. While every move gets used and the balance is kept, it feels rather empty. Restrictive.
BlazBlue has pretty boring music as well. Where’s you usual flamboyancy, Ishiwatari?
I’m not calling BlazBlue itself boring. The decision of three attack buttons and one special Drive button is boring. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure used this same exact layout first, and did it better with the Stands. BlazBlue tries to be better and more different from Guilty Gear, but from the get go it can’t escape from comparisons, and the simple point that it doesn’t do anything new or on its own detracts a lot from it. It’s fun to take few battles here and there, but then you’ll sit back and wish you could play Jam Kuradoberi in HD. It’s not the same, and it wasn’t meant to be. It doesn’t have the same high quality feel, even if it looks damn pretty and over-designed in a good way. Take a look at Nu-13’s Astral Finish for an example of over-the-top finishing move. Even then for every well made Astral Finish you get uninspiring one, like Noel’s or Tager’s.
And I didn’t even mention that some of the characters have clearly made so that their moves resemble Guilty Gear cast, and one Chinese lady even has extremely similar screen to another Chinese lady’s Instant Kill.
Most likely ArcSys managed to gain a new customer crowd with BlazBlue. I have hard time to believe that it grew as large as Guilty Gear, and that it managed to sell the same amounts. Seeing that they’re doing the traditional second-game-gets-shitloads-of-updates route that every game company has made since Street Fighter II, BlazBlue is here to stay. However, seeing that there still is a large crowd wishing for a new Guilty Gear (or even a port for the HD consoles) ArcSys has no right to ignore them. They’ve made a lot of bad decision with Guilty Gear and BlazBLue, and I hope that they’ll start apologizing soon. Otherwise we have to start using video game politics again to make a statement.
A service provider, in this case ArcSys, lives on as they make the customers satisfied. This brings them money. Ignoring the customers wants is stupid, and this stupidity won’t bring in money.