After a rather jazzy Japanese anime title sequence complete with punky pop music, BlazBlueâ€™s main menu is the first indication of how much there is to explore and play in this formidable one-on-one fighting game â€“ itâ€™s immense!
There are plenty of options immediately available and includes a very in depth tutorial which, as the fighting system is fairly straightforward and easy to pick up, newcomers to the genre will find useful â€“ as long as they can get past the patronising teacher Rachel who does her best to use small words in the hope that some of her words of wisdom may permeate the echoing cavern you consider your mind… cheeky! Be prepared that if you follow the tutorial step by step, it can take several hours to complete as there are so many walkthroughs and examples that cover every inch of the BlazBlue universe as each move, counter, jump or action is broken down. For those wishing to get stuck in but might need to quickly brush up on old skills, head over to the training option where you can record and play back in the Replay Theatre option on the main menu which is a nice touch.
The beginner mode (designed for a certain…class of persons unfamiliar with fighting games, persons incapable of performing combos or infants – yup, Rachelâ€™s words again â€“ heartbreaker isnâ€™t she?) has a slightly different control system than in other modes allowing for less strategy and more easily attained yet satisfying elaborate combos and is a good way to see some of the characters special moves and learn some strategy. There is a huge line up of brilliantly diverse, illustrated characters on offer from the iron fisted Iron Tager to the strangely hypnotic boob swinging Litchi Faye-Ling.
There are four attacks in BlazBlue â€“ weak, medium, strong and Drive which as each character has specific traits and unique attacks, helps create some spectacular scenes and means each fight can throw up some surprising moves. Each attack is assigned to a different button (A, B, X, Y) and you can also use these attacks on different levels (right down on the dirty floor or high in the air with a double jump) and combine them with dashes and double dashes. The diversity of the Drive attack is where this game really comes to life and watching your opponent then learning their Drive technique in order to avoid total annihilation is strongly recommended (especially when up against handsome Ragna who can steal life from his opponent with his attack â€“ eek). Certain characters have gauges for their own unique abilities plus each round has a big countdown clock to also keep your eye on so get your strategy heads on. Thereâ€™s also a Guard Primer gauge which prevents you from constantly blocking as if you max it out, youâ€™ll feel the awful shame of a Barrier Crush which will leave you totally vulnerable, but itâ€™s worth keeping in mind and trying to get your enemy to keep blocking you, building up his Guard. If you do get in trouble, there is also the Burst technique (which you can use twice per match) that allows you to escape combos but again, you have to be really savvy in both defensive and offensive battle. The storyline gives you an insight into the 13th Hierarchical City in the BlazBlue universe, is set after the events of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger and there are numerous strands and character sub stories branching off that admittedly, I found hard to follow sometimes. Though there are a couple of hammy lines (and a brilliant moment when the sweaty ninja Bang speaks allowed the sound effect *thud*) but itâ€™s packed with humour, theories and of course fighting talk, all done with great vocal performances.
Legion Mode is a twist on the fighting, as you aim to build your own army by recruiting defeated teams following matches then use your shiny new army to take over enemy points on a map, whilst Challenge mode thankfully has a demonstration section where you can see exactly what goes into the complex and thrilling combos you have to perform. The multiplayer option is smooth with no lags and finally, Score Attack mode… well, you rack up high scores by attacking of course!
BlazBlue, with its intricate and beautiful artwork is a fabulous 2D fighter game that certainly rewards being bold with advanced techniques such as Rapid Cancels and counter Assaults that will test your skills for hours on end. There is a seemingly endless amount of game content to uncover with a diverse range of characters and fighting styles on offer. This game is colourful and offers real challenges to seasoned fighter fans whilst providing insight into the BlazBlue world and building blocks of technique. NewcomersÂ should find they arenâ€™t overwhelmed whilst hard-core fans will enjoy the diversity of attacks and tactical gameplay. Combined with a throbbing guitar rock soundtrack â€“ whatâ€™s not to like here?