First Impressions: BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger

April 13, 2010

As readers of my over-verbose discourse on all things videogames will testify, I am rarely lost for words. BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger leaves me lost for words. A snapshot of Japanese insanity, conched in a beat ’em up whose mechanics I have barely penetrated after a few hours play, BlazBlue both baffles and intrigues. With knowledge of fighting games stretching no further than the ubiquitous Street Fighter series, BlazBlue represents a bold step into the unknown for me, and it’s very fortunate that the Limited Edition of BlazBlue comes with a DVD stuffed full of tutorials on how to master its intricate complexities.

Taokaka (pictured) is half-girl, half-cat, comes from a village that has blocked out the sun, and hides her face in her hood, except for two demon-like pinpricks of red. She constantly searches for food and calls one of the other fighters ‘Boobie Lady’. Rachel Alucard is a vampire who looks like a girl but is thousands of years old. She has two familiars, Nago and Gii, one of which she uses as a shape-shifting umbrella. She often cries out ‘Pervert!’ when attacking others. Hakumen is one of the Six Heroes, and often refers to himself as  ‘the white void… the cold steel… the just sword’ in a very serious, gravelly voice. His ‘just sword’ happens to be bigger than he is.

If fighting games were judged purely by their character rosters, BlazBlue would make a decent fist of claiming the crown. Distinctly Japanese-flavoured, the assorted collection of freaks and misfits delights with a palette of extraordinary special moves, rendered in beautiful 2D art. After only a few hours play, it’s impossible to pick a favourite, or ‘main’, without first getting to grips with the basics of the combat system, but I have had some early success with part-man, part-machine Iron Tager who sports ginormous metallic fists.

Although not as immediately accessible as perennial beat ’em up yardstick, Street Fighter IV, BlazBlue still borrows movesets from Capcom’s long-running series, with quarter-circle-forwards forming the basis of a few entry-level special moves. Movement and jumping feels sluggish in comparison, however, but any further exposition of the complexities and subtleties of BlazBlue’s battle mechanics will have to wait for the review – this is not a title that has pick-up-and-play appeal but, judging by the sheer amount of modes available from the title screen, this brawler has a lot of depth.

Bonkers, surreal and beautiful, BlazBlue looks like the kind of game in which its rewards correlate directly to the effort put in. However, I think I might need to put the tutorial DVD in before I once again return to the fray, especially if I am to brave the hostile waters of online multiplayer mode.

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