Review: BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger

on August 6, 2009 3:00 PM

Fighting games were once considered a slumbering genre. With only a handful of mediocre titles making their way onto our consoles, it became a dying breed that uninspired many gamers with its mix of bland combat, repetitive gameplay, and stagnant graphics. Then, BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger (pronounced “Blaze”, by the way) made its way onto this generation’s library and astonished the bejesus out of me. It concluded that the 2D fighting series is, in fact, here to stay.

Developed by Arc System Works – the same developers that crafted the greatness of Guilty Gear – BlazBlue is the rookie in a field of veterans (such as The King of Fighters and Street Fighter) trying its hardest to ground itself as a respectable fighting game. Does it contain elements that make it a great fighting game? You bet your momma’s sweet ass it does. In fact, it contains perks that surpasses its rivals in its own respect. Fans of the Guilty Gear series will definitely notice major changes in gameplay. The combo system is different, and the overall pace of the game feels much more sluggish compared to the pace of Guilty Gear. However, BlazBlue abstains conventional character designs for something much more creative and dynamic by every means.

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BlazBlue has a roster of 12 playable characters; one of which is some sort of plangent watchamacallit, and a half-cat/half-human (don’t ask me how this combination occurred. Use your imagination). Although, at first glance, you might feel disappointed while glaring at what you think is a mediocre-sized character list compared to fighting games like Mortal Kombat, you will begin to realize how irrelevant to a game’s greatness convoluted character lists can be. One of the most problematic issues with large character rosters is the fact that inconsistent character design and lopsidedness tend to plague the overall experience. With massive rosters, the overall characters just become objects filling up slots that will, eventually, just become unattractive.

With BlazBlue, though, this isn’t a problem. Each and every single character has a unique feeling to them. Given that the roster isn’t a gargantuan 30+ playable characters, this gave the developers the comprehensive time to construct each character, individually, with proper balance and feeling. Each character has a different feeling to them. It’s not like playing as Ryu and Ken; where they both have close to exact same moves with just a couple of minor differences such as specials and appearances. Arc System Works takes the classic way of clouding complicated roster lists and refreshes the genre by bringing back innovation and distinctiveness within their character design.

Strategy is definitely something that some players will be able to grasp. Complexity will shroud gameplay for any first timers. It’s not just your average fireball shooting and dragon-punch executing strategy that will keep you alive and competitive. Players will need to learn the fundamentals of things like zoning (where you control space with attacks that aren’t retaliated against) your foes with an array of creatures. Things like these – a particular character’s core assets – will definitely bewilder newcomers. In this game, proficiency, execution and skill become more of an effort rather than traditional button mashing.

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For any fan of the fighting genre to really appreciate BlazBlue’s potential, fundamentals need to be understood and mastered. BlazBlue’s combos are will leave the player as satisfied as a monkey in a warehouse full of bananas. Don’t think that combos are easy to execute. Hell no. They’re pretty difficult to pull off. Once the player learns how to pull off these amazing damaging combos, they will have a feeling of extreme satisfaction. A player might launch their opponent off the wall or the ground, and then beat the shit out of them in mid-air with a collection of special attacks and combos. Feel like using throws in your combos (a rare perk in fighting games that’s hardly executed successfully)? Go right ahead. Players also have the ability to cancel their attacks while kicking teeth in with something called Rapid Cancel – a move that stops the attack animation at the cost of 50 percent of their special meter to extend a combo’s breadth.

One of the best features, however, I would say is the online. Everyone wants to play a game with little to no lag. If you’re an online match-seeking whore, you’ll understand that any amount of lag will, indeed, change the game itself. You won’t get the same experience as you got while playing locally on your console; and Arc System Works really understood this and took it into consideration when implementing the online system for BlazBlue. I would dare say that BlazBlue has the best online component in any fighting game that I’ve played thus far. If you’re looking for a quality fighting game with a quality online component, BlazBlue is definitely your best bet. There’s absolutely no way you’ll get pissed off at this one.

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BlazBlue is a fighting game like no other. With a great (yes, great) Story Mode which definitely brings back enticing plots, great writing and entertaining dialogue, there’s no way one cannot enjoy what Arc System Works has delivered. They have crafted the perfect formula for a fighter that any fan of the genre will definitely love. By taking chances and innovating in areas others have failed or never cared to dive into, Arc System Works has created a fighter that will, no doubt, create an avid fanbase and leave behind a momentous legacy. While they are still a young development team compared to the likes of veterans such as SNK and Capcom, both these big-boys can learn quite a bit from Arc System Works. They have pushed the threshold of what fighters once were and what they should definitely be. If you’re contemplating on getting this one because it doesn’t contain the familiar faces of Terry Bogard or Ryu and Ken, punch yourself in the face. I promise you that BlazBlue will outdo just about any fighting game this generation has produced. Cross my heart.

 /  Co-Founder
Born and raised in New York City, Yaris is one of three co-founders at DualShockers. Gaming since the inception of Nintendo in the 80's, he has grown to avidly appreciate games of every genre, maturing his preference specifically now to third-person action games, first-person shooters and JRPGs. He's a software engineer, father and husband during the day, and mildly attempts to hold onto his "hardcore gamer" title during the evenings. An attempt that he tends to fail miserably at.
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