They’re doing it almost right with Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus

Guilty Gear Accent Core Plus is hitting PSN and 360Live on late October. This is much later than I anticipated and I can’t but feel that the new BlazBlue has been reason for this. It’s stupid; why to push BB onwards when GG is the superior of two products and has already larger customer base? Well, the answer might be that BB has also a solid customer base, but these two overlap greatly. Persona 4 Arena most likely took out resources as well, and I’m not completely with that game either.

I find it extremely good that they’re releasing AC+ before updating it to R version. Whatever the R version brings in, be it character balances and s forth, it’s good to show the base product and then evolve it. It doesn’t detract anything from the game, but I can see problems arising when people state that they need to re-learn some things. There’s also the question whether or not the update will be an actual update or will it be DLC. If it will be DLC, then they’re doing it wrong.

I see ArcSys testing Guilty Gear with this game again in and out of arcades. If it succeeds, then I can see ArcSys actually starting to put effort into the next Guilty Gear, which I hope will be Guilty Gear X3 rather than just 3. ArcSys needs to give Guilty Gear same class of budget as they have given to BlazBlue, much like Nintendo needs to give same amount of budget to 2D Marios as 3D Marios have. There’s no reason to treat your most selling franchise like a third class product.

Now, what could they do more right with GGAC+R? Add all the stages from previous games as well as all the musics, as well as characters. There’s no reason to take anything out. All of these do not take anything from the game and only stack on the content. What this kind of release needs is content, and GG does have content that could be used.

In general we could ask why the hell are developers taking out content from their games and not adding them?

But I have to say, that I do love how they added the R into the logo. It stands out, uses good colour choice and most of all does signal a change of sorts.

But seriously ArcSys, it’s a time for a completely new Guilty Gear fighting gamer after this.

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?

How not to treat your customers; BlazBlue

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.

Remember our agreement on references and alcohol?

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.

Boring.


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.