Why You Should Play BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend. Now.
- ZEN United
- Blazblue: Continuum Shift II
- Arc System Works
BlazBlue is the best 2D fighter out there right now, bar none. And before you call shenanigans, it still will be even after Street Fighter X Tekken is released. I've played Street Fighter X Tekken; it's great, but it's no BlazBlue.
BlazBlue is the best because it's the result of ambitious design ideas meeting elegant accessibility. It's the best because it's a fighter built out of 'what ifs' rather than safe, established concepts. It's the best because it's as much a spectacle fighter as it is a level headed tussler. It's the best because one of the characters is a cat lady, the game features a tutorial modelled after a Saturday morning cartoon and one character has a super move with its own theme song.
BlazBlue has a reputation for being a super serious fighter when, in all honesty, it caters for everyone. BlazBlue is precisely as silly or serious as you want, and as technically deep or as button mash-y as you desire.
Say you're a hardcore kind of guy, you get a roster of 19 characters each packing completely unique playstyles and abilities alongside a wealth of offensive and defensive elements to master. You're more laid back you say? Switch on Stylish controls and just get lost in the game's labyrinthine story that is as confusing, dark, and humorous as the best Japanese anime.
Any scene containing Bang is a scene to treasure.
Don't care for story but like a meaty solo challenge? Get your choppers around Abyss mode, BlazBlue's sort of RPG survival thing that has you beefing up your fighter to survive an ever increasing amount of fights. Or if you're just after some squits and giggles you can check out all the brutal Astral Finishes (BlazBlue's fatality equivalent) before setting characters to Unlimited (ridiculously overpowered) mode and completely destroying the screen in a shower of silly, massive projectiles.
The beauty of BlazBlue's accessibility lies in the concept of 'Drive'. The game uses four buttons and a direction input for its unique brand of scrappery, three of them correspond to your usual light, medium and heavy slaps but the fourth is linked to a character's 'Drive'. Stab said Drive button and your fighter will produce some unique quirk, simultaneously showing a window into their personal playing style while meaningfully separating the sod/sod-ett from the rest of the pack. Every fighter in BlazBlue is deliciously unique.
Examples: Ragna's D attacks absorb health. Jin's freeze opponents. Noel's Drive is a speedy gun based chain. Carl's D is linked to his robotic partner. Rachel's technique creates a gust of wind to move her around the stage quickly. Hakuman can whip out an array of counters from his D button. These drive abilities quickly form the foundations of a character, and are the key to BlazBlue's genius.
At times BlazBlue is as high flying as Marvel, at others it's as measured as Street Fighter, but it's always much more aggressive than either.
The other key ingredient are those 'what ifs', BlazBlue's bold imaginative ideas that show up other roster's for the tepid cookie cutter exercises that they are. What if our grappler created a gravitational pull towards him? What if we had a rush-down character that used a golf swing-o-meter on her special moves? What if we had a robot that could trap opponents using swords summoned out of thin air around the other fighter? What if we made a character that pulled himself around the stage using a grappling hook?
These ideas aren't supplement to fairness or balance, that comes later through play. Arc System Works create something that, on paper, would seem overpowered - and chances are it initially does in the game as well - but they trust that you can adapt. BlazBlue takes things forward by being brave, believing in the player and never pandering to simplicity or expectation.
And that's the thing, where other fighters are happy to play the game of cliché BlazBlue is fearless and brave. Every fighter has something to say for themselves, some individual quirk to make them standout, to make them a unique opponent, to make them feel fresh. In any other fighter the characters normally abide to a system and fit a mould, each is just a different style of the same tool. BlazBlue's roster is a varied tool box, every instrument has a different coloured handle and sings its own tune. This bold approach to design makes it a wonderful game in which to play, experiment and tinker as there's so much to see and do with every individual brawler.
BlazBlue raises the scrapping bar and makes you realise that the genre can offer so much more.
Plus it has a gorgeous intro full of rawk and grr faces, what's not to like?
But in the end, even after all of this gushing praise, it's just a gorgeous game to behold. I don't just mean looks either, although the sprites and arenas are stunning, I'm actually referring to the package. The tutorial, the story mode, Abyss mode, unlimited characters, combo challenges, mountains of art-y unlockables, flawless online play, replay sharing, Astral Finishes, silly asides, serious challenges. The BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend package is one that is almost impossible to criticize, and one put together with such clear love that it makes most other fighters, no, most other games seem anaemic and formulaic by comparison.
The only reason I think someone could genuinely dislike BlazBlue? It is very Japanese. But to ignore this stellar fighter on such xenophobic grounds is short-sighted foolishness. Put as simply as possible - Xbox 360, PS3, Vita, it doesn't matter where you do it, but you need to play BlazBlue Continuum Shift II Extend; it's the bravest, boldest and best 2D fighter available.
Words by James Bowden (@Dalagonash)
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