#869 BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger

Posted: 21st May 2012 by Mulholland in Games
Tags: , , ,

149th played so far

Genre: Fighting
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 2008
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Arc System Works (JP), Aksys Games (US), pQube (EU)

I love fighting games. This is a fact about myself that we have covered multiple times in the past whilst we talked about games like Tekken and Soul Calibur II so it is not a point I will labour that much. It just saves me having to do too much playing of them. You’re just lucky RPGs outnumber fighters 2:1.

The fact is that in the course of this blog we have yet to play many traditional fighters (three including the ones mentioned as well as Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting) I really pushed for another proper fighter before we reached 150 games. Since first reading the book my eye was really caught by the screenshot so I knew which one to go for.

Our Thoughts

I am going to start this by acknowledging one thing; if you are not a Japanophile this may not exactly be the fighting game for you. This may seem like a strange thing to point out considering the number of games made in Japan. Why this warning here rather than for Xenogears, Tales of Symphonia or Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles? Well if you spend 30 seconds with part-human, part-feline Taokaka and you will know the reason why. A substantial part of the game feels like an interactive anime… which is weird for a fighting game. In fact, when playing the story mode, that pretty much seems to be what it really is – half fighting game, half slightly interactive anime (with the interactiveness being of the ‘left or right’ kind).

As with all fighting games you have the standard modes: story, arcade, versus, training and some form of time/score attack. Not much there saying “Nekos roam free”. It is when you begin to play the game that the anime influence begins to leak through. The introduction movie plays like the standard opening sequence of an anime, complete with Japanese music and moody close-ups of the principal players. The 2D sprites of the fighters are all drawn as they would be in an anime. But the place where you see it the most is in the Story Mode, also known as the mode where I truly fell for this game.

Most fighting games make a half-arsed attempt at a plot. It’s one of those truths that has been accepted by gamers for years so it makes sense that one of the very few new fighting franchises of the millennium (seriously can anyone come up with a second decent one?) to change this. The main story contains a complex interlocking story involving magic, war, corruption, possession and murder. There are believable motives in place for the characters whether it is just them carrying out their job as a soldier or trying to cure their old friend and work colleague from some form of soul-corruption… something that is missing from many fighter where there is just an evil sword to destroy or yet another tournament to control a multi-national corporation. To be honest, the interlocking stories are actually quite confusing, at least when you first start playing. It doesn’t immediately make sense who everyone is and what they do, and you need to get quite far into the story lines before you do. Then there are the storylines where the motivations are just frickin’ hilarious that it had both of us laughing out loud… whether it be stroking a dwarf panda or being so hungry that they think a floating demon is a meat bun. I really could go on about the character development until the cows come home so I’ll just mention one more thing: the tips videos.

Since the back story is fairly large it is forgivable that whenever they start to talk about specific terms like “hierarchical cities” that you may get a bit lost. Luckily the game makers actually thought of this and made some rather funny chibi-anime videos to explain these terms as well as fleshing out the back story of some of the more secondary characters. It is also a place for a lot of boob jokes in a typically anime fashion.

The fighting itself plays more like a Capcom fighter compared to a Konami one. The buttons are linked to weak, medium, strong and drive attacks rather than individual limbs. Due to this, and the very VERY different fighting styles of all the characters it means that you really need to put the time in to work out each of their strengths and weaknesses. True, there are only 12 characters on the roster (something that was criticised) but when you have such variation and fleshed-out character development it doesn’t seem to matter too much. Examples include Carl who is accompanied by his creepy doll-like servant, Jin who possesses ice-based powers and Rachel whose arsenal include electrocuting frogs and a cat umbrella that can transform into a cannon. The different fighters are actually that – different. There’s no real carbon copies that we’ve been able to find. Sure, some are a bit more similar, but you really are playing as different characters – not just the same with a different look and slightly different stats.

In the end though, despite that you have all these different styles, the game is accessible. As I’ve said with other games, this might just be me getting better, but I picked this up and did quite well (at least until later boss fights). Sure, I stuck with the character I knew, but while you need to take some time to get used to each character, you can easily get a good feeling with some experimentation. Together with that, the story draws you in, making the whole game a bit more interesting and fun to play through.

For a long while we really did need a new fighter to arrive onto the scene to shake things up a bit… Arc more than succeeded with this fighting gem.

Final Thoughts

Unlike Peter, this game was never going to fully win me over, as it’s quite a bit removed from the type of games I used to play, but so far, this is probably the fighting game that drew me in furthest. This is just as much thanks to the story and graphics as it’s about the gameplay, but it’s accessible enough for me to keep playing.

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