A fair look at BlazBlue

Last post was not really about BlazBlue itself. It was about how the relationship between Guilty Gear and BlazBlue had made a chism between the customers, and how ArcSys had stepped into wrong direction. Here I’m taking a proper look at BlazBlue without all that.

Everything starts from one and so we’ll step into BlazBlue; Calamity Trigger’s own little world. By little I mean pretty vast and involving. It’s a whole new world with slight emphasize on the storytelling via Story Mode, a staple mode in Guilty Gear games (to an extent.) It’s a big story to tell, and how it is told leaves a bit desired. Most of the terminology are completely new and from the left field, thus forcing the player to look some names and terms up just to know what the hell the characters are talking about. It’s a grand story that you’d find in some RPG.

So basically it’s a world where some kind of dimensional portal was a found. This Boundary hold the Power of the Blue, or of the Azure. People want to tap this power for their own reasons. Some bad guys in the government used orbital cannon (or rather monster strapped to a satellite) to mess with scientists trying to open the portal to the other dimension and see the power of the blue. This causes the a whole city to be levelled down in an instant. That’s the prelude to the whole game, and it’s rather well told… in the story mode.

So we got twelve individuals wondering into one city in this game, all of whom have their own reasons to fight each other, be it orders from their commanders or wanting to wank off due to brother issues. No really, there’s a character who killed his sister because she and his brother had better relationship. Go figure.

So anyway, let’s get into the game proper.

Put this is on and let’s rock

Twelve characters is rather limited roster this day and age. Sure, it’s the first game in the series and the plot would be insanely convoluted if they introduced far too many characters at once… except they introduced most of the characters that would become playable in the following games. Let’s blame ArcSys playing safe and not putting too much effort into the roster amount if the game would bomb. Nevertheless, the characters are balanced pretty well, even if you have the basic archeotype roster; the big slow one, the quick lady, the zoning monster, the rushdown beater, the clone of the main character and so on. There’s few characters that seem to have better options than others, but this isn’t Arcana Heart.

While the character roster is limited, it has a lot of charm. Ragna has pretty sweet pants going on, Noel uses Gunkata and isn’t overly sexualized, Nu-13 is basically nu Gundam mecha musume, Tager has those sweet glasses, Bang has that Kamen Rider thing going on with a huge nail and Hakumen just looks pretty badass. These are just to mention few. They all got their own playstyle and movelists. I think this is really the first time most characters have rather different commands in Super moves, which I see as a welcome change, minor it is. For example, to trigger Noel’s Astral Finish is 2CCC8C. That is hold down, press Strong Attack thrice and then up and Strong Attack. This is similar to Gouki’s Kongou Gokurestu Zan from Third Strike Street Fighter III, thou Noel’s Astral Finish is really boring looking. At least make her use more elaborate Gunkata moves rather than just walking past the enemy and jumping over.

If you check this out…

…and then see this you’ll see the point

The fighting, to put it simply, is fun. It’s not as complex and deep as in some other games, and ultimately you’ll feel it after some time. As said, every characters have rather limited movelist, a thing that seems to be a thing these days. It doesn’t help that the limited roster makes this more apparent.

Still, it’s fast. Perhaps it’s for the best to have uncomplicated moves and skin deep mechanics for this kind of game. BlazBlue is meant to be entry-level fighting game among highly complex competitors, and that it does well. Perhaps a bit too well, but who am I to complain? BlazBlue could have deeper mechanics within the movelist and in the use of buttons rather than having Cancels or whatnot. More moves would be the first addition, and then to have better use for all the attack buttons. For example, few characters have completely useless moves that you never really should use. I’m looking at you, nu-13’s Weak Attack.

I’m being incoherent here. BlazBlue has a simplistic and fast paced fighting with nice variety of characters, but is bogged down with rather lackluster depth in all of it. Learning the basics is easier than in some other fighting games, but you don’t need much more than that to learn what lays behind the surface. Which isn’t much.

And now to the eye candy. BlazBlue quite honestly has one of the sexiest art direction going on in ages.

It’s a menu and I’m all for it

It’s overdesign at its best. Transperent blue hues everywhere and lot of unique and parallel shapes house some good looking points and shapes. The general art direction is one of the best I’ve seen in years in video games, but the overall value is detracted that it isn’t unified. The Story mode’s character models differ from their in-game character portraits, which hits your eye like a dragon inside eagles ass. It’s a minor nitpick overall when the whole game is just a gem to look at. This doesn’t really carry to character design as strongly, but the likes of Hakumen and Noel are pretty good example of strong design choices in this game. Carl is an example of uninspiring design that has been seen million times over everywhere else, not to talk about the vampire loli Rachel.

This post came out overly positive. BlazBlue has its share of problems, the biggest being that it doesn’t keep the interest high for long, as the players really have nothing to get into when they’ve learned the finer points. I’m expecting to get few nice changes in the upcoming games beyond BlazBlue II (any of it’s versions),but I hope they won’t shove insane amounts of mechanics like CAPCOM is doing with Street Fighter X Tekken. It’s a fun game, and the simplicity will make you come back time after time. The art direction gives it vast amounts of charm, and while I’m not all for graphics, I’m all for art direction. I’m really happy to see actual colours in a video game that has been made in the latter half of the first century of the 2000’s.

It’s worth thirty bucks new if I were to put a price for it. The small roster, limited moves and mechanics are the biggest gripes in this game, but ultimately, it’s fun to play.

BlazBlue has the potentiality, but whether or not ArcSys are being careful, the franchise is being limited from its full potentiality.

And where’s my Guilty Gear VS BlazBlue?

One thought on “A fair look at BlazBlue

  1. I only just found this blog while looking for information on Millia and have to say, this is quite the site you’ve built here. Your detailed analysis of the minutia of GG’s characters, designs, and systems are stellar and your attitude towards business practices so straight forward and sensible. Thanks a lot for putting in the effort over all these years to craft this blog and know that it is very much appreciated, at the least by this one reader.

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