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Blazblue: Calamity Trigger
 

 

STORYBefore the events of BlazBlue, humanity was on the verge of extinction from the "Black Beast", a creature of Darkness. The world was saved by six heroes who wielded magic. They helped humanity create "Armagus", a fusion of magic and technology, to defeat the Beast.

After the war, the Novus Orbis Librarium Armagus (the Library for short) was created to govern the world with the use of Armagus. A great deal of dissent was caused by the Library, partly due to Armagus' use in nearly every facet of society, and the widening socioeconomic gap between those who could and couldn't use Armagus. This dissent would eventually form years later into The Ikaruga Civil War, when the Ikaruga Union openly rebelled against the Library. After the war, the Library imposed a harsher rule on the world, punishing any rebellion against the Library with the death penalty.

On December A.D. 2199, several years after the Ikaruga Civil War, a branch of the Library was utterly destroyed by an SS-class traitor named "Ragna the Bloodedge" also known as "The God of Death", in an attempt to destroy the entire Libary. The Novus Orbis Librarium Armagus, hoping to stop him, immediately put the largest bounty ever for anyone who could capture him. Interestingly, Ragna possessed a powerful form of Armagus known as the "Azure Grimoire" (Grimoire of the Blue in Japan), also known as the BlazBlue. This led to the Librarium, as well as the Ikaruga Union and other fighters, to be after not just his bounty, but also his grimoire.
 

Any freeze frame of Blazblue is practically a work of art.

 
REVIEW
Running on Tatio's Type X2 arcade board, Blazblue is Arc System Work's newest 2D fighting game franchise. It has nothing to do with the Guilty Gear series as far as storyline goes, but both gameplay & character designs are closely reminiscent of Arc System Work's previous fighting game series.

Blazblue
launches with a respectable 12 characters (each with 12 different color variations), a nice variety of gorgeously designed stages, and a metal/techno/opera soundtrack that (thankfully) exceeds the guitar-thrashings of Guilty Gear's... some of the BGMs are actually quite catchy (which makes the collector's edition soundtrack a sweet addition to the home package). Unlike the arcade version, the home versions of Blazblue introduce a multi-path, fully-voiced Story Mode (with English or Japanese voiceovers) for each character, Online Multiplayer, and an all new animated intro by anime studio GONZO.  

Like the long-running GGX series, Blazblue's gameplay is blistering fast. It takes some getting used to, especially if you've been playing the likes of Street Fighter IV (which came out a few months before Blazblue). On that note, Blazblue is a very different kind of 2D fighting game and is as far from "traditional" as it gets... of course the staple life bars & super meters are present, but that's where the similarities abruptly end.
 

Think fighting game designs are losing their "unique" factor? Think again.

 
First, you have to wrap your head around the bizarre and intricately detailed anime-style character designs... they are a unique bunch indeed. Seems like Arc System Works put every ounce of effort to make the characters of Blazblue stand out as "original" fighting game characters in every way possible! Each character has a distinctly different playing style, and make for a very diverse and balanced roster. Some characters can attack from tons of different angles, which allows players to really "mix-it-up" and be creative with their attack sequences.

Blazblue has 4 main attack buttons... Weak Attack, Medium Attack, Strong Attack, & a fourth "do-something-cool" button that greatly differs depending on the character. For experienced & non-experienced fighting game players players alike, it's easy to jump right in and start pulling off epic looking special moves & even combos, almost making it look like you know what you're doing (even if you don't). Taokaka for instance, can fly all around the screen using only one button and holding the directional pad in a specific direction. Comparatively, in games like Marvel VS Capcom 2, you actually had to "know how to do" that sort of stuff. With Blazblue, air dashing & triangle jumping seems like child's-play in some cases. Blazblue's user-friendly control scheme and fairly straight forward movesets makes it a game that players of all levels can enjoy, but offers a much deeper experience for higher skilled players.
 

Jin is slightly overpowered... watch out for the ice car.  -__-

 
Blazblue
is indeed an "all new" fighting game to most of us who picked it up on PS3 or 360, since it didn't exactly have a widespread North American arcade release. The special move commands are familiar enough to get a hold of rather quickly, but learning how to combo, cancel, and actually use each character effectively takes some dedication. Some of the more dynamic gameplay mechanics include offensive & defensive techniques like Rapid Cancel, Instant Block, Barrier Block and Barrier Burst. Not all of these techniques have to be mastered to enjoy the game casually, but there is a ton to learn if you're a new player and want to jump online without getting destroyed. Each character has a solid variety of super moves (called Distortion Drives) and also an Astral Heat, a flashy instant-kill move that can only be used in the last round of a battle. To use an Astral Heat, your opponent must have less than 20% of their life left, and your Heat Gauge must be at 100%.

Blazblue looks amazing both in motion and standing still. Proudly showing off 2D sprites even larger than those seen in the Guilty Gear X series, Blazblue currently holds the title for the "biggest 2D sprites" to ever appear in a 2D fighting game (or video game for that matter). The character sprites in motion are also more fluid than their GGX predecessors, and animate much smoother as well... Arc System Works really stepped their game up in the animation department! The 3D stages with 2D elements also look outstanding, each stage featuring an intro as the camera "scales back" to the plane that the fighters are on... an impressive effect that nicely shows off the high-res sprites! Blazblue is truly a work of art in motion, and is an improvement over GGX in almost every way... truly one of the best looking 2D fighters of all time.
 

30+ hours to complete story mode... whew!

 
The attention to detail in Blazblue does not go unnoticed, and I'm not only talking about the graphics. Fully-voiced character-specific dialogue before the fight in character intros, during the fight with their special moves, and even after the fight in each characters win quote takes character interactions to a new level. Blazblue's characters really seem to have relationships with one another, which is shown in even more detail in the multi-path Story Mode (which takes a good 30+ hours to complete). The voiceovers in the Story Mode are done exceptionally well both in English & Japanese, and the slow pacing of the story really contrasts the game's insanely fast gameplay.

It's nice to step out of the game for a while and take a breather with the story element, as this is something most fighting games don't offer at all. Blazblue's actual story is a mixed bag. Some moments are slow & boring, but others will make you laugh out loud. In any case, the artwork within story mode (and in the entire game) is stunning I might add. Blazblue packs some of the best "in-game" fighting game artwork I've seen in quite some time.

The Network Mode is actually one of the best fighting game online modes to date... Blazblue's solid netcode keeps lag to a minimum, and sometimes non-existent all together! The staple Quick Match, Ranked Match, Custom Match, & Player Match are all there to mix things up online. The Ranked match is a strict two players per session, where you'll go up against a random opponent (which makes sense, stopping the potential cheaters). With Player match, up to six players can join one room and there are even quite a few room options such as: Voice chat on/off, easy specials on/off, match rotation type, connection quality 'importance', astral heats on/off, etc!

Another appreciated feature is the Replay Theater... Along with being able to record your matches & your friends' matches after every online battle, you can even download replay data from players! Each online player also has a slick ID card, which shows your online rank/level, your win/loss record, and even the two characters you pick the most. Even though I wouldn't consider myself exactly "skilled" at this game, it's been a blast playing online... there's definitely some tough competition on PSN!

 

Page Updated: July 16th, 2015
Developer(s): Arc System Works
Publisher(s): Arc System Works, Aksys Games ()
Designer(s): Toshimichi Mori, Yuuki Katou, Daisuke Ishiwatari  (composer)
Artwork by: Toshimichi Mori, Yuuki Katou
Platform(s): Arcade, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PSP, PC
Release Date(s): Nov. 19th, 2008     ( Arcade)
Nov. 20th, 2008    
( Arcade)
June 25th, 2009    
( PS3/360)
June 30th, 2009    
( PS3/360)
Feb. 25th, 2010    
( PSP)
Mar. 11th, 2010    
( Windows)
Mar. 19th, 2010    
( PS3/360)
Mar. 31st, 2010    
( PSP)
Feb. 14th, 2014 
     (Steam)
Characters Ragna The Bloodedge, Jin Kisaragi, Noel Vermillion, Bang Shishigami, Iron Tager, Arakune, Rachel Alucard, Litchi Faye Ling, Carl Clover, Taokaka, Hakumen, ν-13

Featured Video:

Related Games: Blazblue: Continuum Shift, Blazblue: Continuum Shift 2, Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend, Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma, Blazblue: Central Fiction, Guilty Gear X: Accent Core Plus, Battle Fantasia, King of Fighters XIII, Sengoku Basara X, Hokuto No Ken, Skullgirls, AquaPazza, Persona 4 Arena, Street Fighter 4, Marvel VS Capcom 2, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Under Night In-Birth
  

Gameplay Engine  8.5 / 10
Story / Theme  9.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  9.5 / 10
Animation  9.5 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  9.0 / 10
Innovation  9.0 / 10
Art Direction  9.5 / 10
Customization  9.0 / 10
Options / Extras  9.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  9.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  7.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  8.0 / 10
Characters  8.0 / 10

BOTTOM LINE

 9.1 / 10

 Review based on PS3 version

 

Final Words: While not nearly as conventional as other 2D fighting games of 2009, Blazblue offers an exceptional gameplay experience in its own right. Visually, Blazblue is what I'd call a "role-model" next-gen 2D fighting game, proving once again that 2D fighting games are here to stay. 

As a "casual" fan of the Guilty Gear X series, I must say I've actually enjoyed playing Blazblue considerably more than its predecessor. There's something I like about the characters, though Blazblue's characters are what you could call "gimmicky" in terms of play styles. As designs, they're slightly "over-designed" and definitely won't float everyone's boat.

The "out-of-control", yet controllable-with-practice gameplay is a is intriguing enough to try to learn, but overall a bit too off-the-wall for my fighting game purist tastes. That said, its likely not a game I'll ever be "serious" about, but it's still pretty fun to play casually.

In any case, a bold new franchise like this among a year of "sequels" is refreshing. Needless to say, Blazblue was a successful start for a major new series by Arc System Works... and something tells me we're going to see a sequel or two. 
~TFG Webmaster
 

 
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