It is not like the 3DS doesn’t already have a couple of great fighting games in both the 3DS version of Street Fighter and Dead or Alive. But given the slow roll out of quality games for Nintendo’s 3D handheld, surely there is room for one more fighter?
The BlazBlue games confuse me. Whilst they are incredibly impressive, in a typically Japanese 2D fighting game way, I don’t find myself spending enough time with any one game to actually become enamoured with the large collection of intriguing characters or the deep story line. Besides, this is a fighting game and story lines in a fighting game are not something I can deal with. Just fight already!
But still, there is a storyline in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II, following on directly from Continuum Shift which appeared on the big consoles. However, playing as any of the characters and working through the story from their point of view in story mode is not something everyone has to endure. The first thing that becomes very apparent to the player is the sheer number of options and different modes that are available.
An incredibly detailed tutorial is perhaps the first port of call for any player. Here, the player will be able to get to grips with everything that they need to know to progress in the game. From there the player can move onto some standard modes in the form of the aforementioned story mode, the arcade mode and a customisable versus mode which can be played against either the com or another player locally. Score attack sees the player fighting for a high score and challenge mode will see them taking on missions.
Things get more unusual with the Legion 1.5 and the Abyss modes. Legion 1.5 mode revolves around recruiting an army and then playing across maps. The Abyss mode will see the player fighting through waves of enemies as they progress through floors. Both of these modes are something a bit different and add a nice variety to the game.
The fighting itself will be easily picked up by anyone who has played a fighting game before, but mastering the controls will be a whole different matter. The game’s moves and combos are very precise and will take a lot of practice to perfect. The game has different levels of difficulty and the good sized collection of fighters each have very different strengths and weaknesses, forcing the player invest additional time into each character they want to master.
Visually, the game uses hand-drawn animation of anime style characters which look nice and colourful on the 3DS screen. The 3D effect is something that I am unsure about. When actually playing the game and away from the menus and such, having the 3D on full results in a separating of the forward and back image to the point that it looks just like a separated image, rather than what I think of as proper 3D. It is a bit difficult to describe, but it just didn’t seem as impressive as the other 3D fighting games. Of course, the flip side to this was that I could play for extended periods with the 3D slider on full without any headaches or nausea. Good times!
There is no denying that the game looks great, albeit with questionable 3D, is incredibly deep and full featured. In fact, all of the features of Continuum Shift have been squeezed in, which is quite impressive. But despite all of that, there are a couple of glaring omissions.
Firstly, and some of you may have noticed this already, someone seems to have forgotten an online mode. Surely if the two big 3DS fighting games can manage to include such impressive online competition, BlazBlue could have squeezed something in. Local play is provided, and works very well, but a lack of online combat drastically reduces the replayability.
The other thing, which makes less than no sense at all, is that all of the movement of characters during combat is performed using the d-pad. Not a bad thing in itself as the d-pad performs well. But everything could have been so much more fluid had the developer thought to use the really handy, ideal for fighting games, circle pad that is sitting there like some kind of discarded mint. I simply cannot understand why they chose to ignore the circle pad, a decision which has affected the score of the game.
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II is a really impressive fighting game that fails to fulfill its potential due to a couple of missing functions. If you can ignore the problems, what remains is still a very good game that is bursting at the seams with content.