Notes on BlazBlue

by eternal on February 27, 2010


I might be late to the party by a year or two, but I recently got my hands on a great arcade stick for the X360 and a copy of Arc System’s latest stylish 2D fighter. Now, I realize that this isn’t a gaming blog, but something about BlazBlue has piqued my curiosity.

For one, the game feels suspiciously catered to anime fans, and not in a bad way. To prove my point, you’ve probably already heard of it, or at least seen some pictures – like Guilty Gear‘s Bridget, some of the characters and inside jokes make it out of the fighting game community and into the general otakusphere. The story mode also seems strangely fleshed out, though it’s still too early for me to comment on the plot.

At any rate, BlazBlue definitely isn’t beginner-friendly, but it seems to contain quite a few treats for the anime fans in the audience. Most of my attention is focused on learning how to play, but I can’t help but notice how polished the game feels outside of its core gameplay. Besides, with official art like this, how can you go wrong?

The story mode in particular is what drove me to write this post. You’ve probably already heard this if you follow the gaming community, but BlazBlue has a surprisingly deep single-player experience. I’m not sure if it has a surprisingly deep story since I’ve only played a couple of the routes, but I can already tell that it’s polished. Take a look at the screencap above: it’s from the Japanese version of the game, I know, but look at the sprites. We already know that the character designs are above-average, but this is professional eroge-quality art we’re talking about! Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the story mode’s BGM and the dialogue is kept to a minimum, but it has a pleasant amount of eye candy for a fighting game.

If you haven’t played the game before, you’re probably wondering why I mentioned the term “routes” in that last paragraph. Interestingly, none of the characters’ story modes are complete when you first start them: you have to move back and forth between routes, exposing the overall plot from different angles. This means that the game probably suffers from Tsukihime Syndrome in that there’s arguably a right and wrong order to play the game in, but the experience is pretty much seamless as long as you’re not too picky. It feels a bit like Ever 17 in that the structure forces you to play the role of the 3rd person narrator rather than the protagonist. The story also comes with a few CGs, and the prologue/epilogue scenes feel like something right out of a linear visual novel. Whether the plot is good or not, it’s all very pretty and attractive, which is a pleasant change of pace from the awkward story modes that some fighting games are known for.

There’s not much to say about the technical aspects of the game aside from the gameplay mechanics, but there’s enough to be impressed by. Daisuke Ishiwatari is the composer for most, if not all of the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series, and his tracks are all suited to the games. I’ve heard as many fans comment on the music of Guilty Gear as I’ve heard compliments to Castlevania music, and I’m starting to see that they were right.

I’m not sure who the character designer is, but whoever it is has also done a satisfying job on the entire cast, male and female. Being a typical moe fan, I’m obviously most interested in Noel and Rachel, but there’s quite a bit of creativity in the rest of the cast as well. Jin is one of the first badass bishounen to catch my eye in years, Litchi‘s hair makes me smile, and Nu is just awesome all around. Incidentally, Carl probably has more than a few female fans, and I still don’t really know what Taokaka is.

Also, for the seiyuu otaku, Rachel is voiced by Kana Ueda and Tao is voiced by Chiwa Saitou. And yes, you can freely switch the voice and text language in the English version of the game.

Official art. These guys know their marketing.

Unfortunately, no matter how many spectacular pieces of BGM and suggestive yuri promo art the developers create, nothing can change the fact that BlazBlue is inaccessible. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: 2D fighters are meant to be competitive, period. I bought this game because I wanted to learn how to play, and I’m still busy learning how to play. It’s amazing. It’s like dodging bullets. Even so, it’s not like your average anime-style JRPG that requires more time than skill – fighting games are awful if you do it wrong and incredible if you do it right.

Having said that, BlazBlue probably isn’t a bad entry point to the genre, and it’s current-gen so you’ll always have access to human opponents to fight. It’s definitely worth checking out for every anime fan who’s into gaming, but be warned: victory does not come cheap.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

NyaChan February 27, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Actually, the only story mode which is right is the final one, which you have to finish all the other routes to get. Most of the story modes are only half-canon in that they are possibilities of what happened as long as they don’t interfere with the true ending of the game, as the true ending is what leads to the sequel. :3


omgwtfbbq February 28, 2010 at 6:32 am

Started playing BB this Friday. I was expecting another GG with just new characters but the game surprised me. It plays somehow differently from GG and it’s rather aimed at more experienced players. Wish I had an arcade stick because doing all the advanced combos is nearly impossible with the pad. Did you decide on who to main?


Shance February 28, 2010 at 10:54 am

You’ll be surprised that its predecessor ain’t that much of a difference:

1. Badass Seiyuu Cast

Sol-Badguy by Daisuke Ishiwatari/Joji Nakata (Nero Chaos of Melty Blood)
I-No by Kikuo Inoue (Belldandy of Aa! Megami-sama!)
Slayer by Iemasa Kayumi (Silent Chujo of Giant Robo)
Johnny by EMPEROR WAKAMOTO (need I say more?)

2. Extensive Storyline

You’ll be surprised by the sheer amount of relevant material (Drama CDs, radio commentaries, interviews, narratives, etc.). It’s so sheer, it blurs the storyline a bit by tinkering with ZA WARUDO. And yes, you’ll have to finish all the stories to get the real ending, just like some eroges.

3. Avant-Garde Art

Hairstyles, costumes, even the alter-egos. Everything weaves a story of its own that even a single detail has its own.

4. Badass Boss

That Man. He’s like God. He needs to be killed. Period.


ETERNAL March 7, 2010 at 8:58 pm

@ NyaChan: Interesting. Hopefully I’ll see the true end for myself in a few weeks!

@ omgwtfbbq: Arcade sticks are definitely the way to do. If it helps, I got the Hori Real Arcade Pro EX-SE for the X360. Oh, and my current main is Noel.

@ Shance: I haven’t played much GG, but I’ve taken a look at it and your first three points sound familiar. Now I’m really looking forward to seeing the last point!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: