There's no denying that fighting enthusiasts have a lot of options this year. Capcom got the ball rolling with Street Fighter IV, which many of you are well aware has been my digital crack over the past few months. But the competition is about to heat up this summer as SNK, Namco and Arc System Works have imminent releases that will undoubtedly compel players to send Ryu and company on extended leave.
Ever since the success of Guilty Gear, the reputation of Arc System Works has grown by leaps and bounds. The company aspired to distinguish its games from Street Fighter II, which triggered a glut of 2D copycats over the past decade. The end result was a rich, in-depth fighter that delivered a unique cast of colorful characters, an intricate combat system, and a penchant for heavy metal chords. Over the years, the developer has ambitiously worked to refine its philosophy, introducing new modes and tweaking existing gameplay elements. Guilty Gear now stands as one of the most successful fighting franchises, regularly featured as an official tournament staple and actively supported by its ever-growing fanbase.
Rather than reinventing the wheel, BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger fully embraces that award-winning formula with open arms, albeit with a few exceptions. If this is your first introduction to the Guilty Gear-style, now would be a good time to start conducting some research via message boards or YouTube. Aksys provided me with IGN's tutorial, hosted by Jessica Chobot, which proved extremely helpful in picking up the basics. Naturally, it will take some time before I can confidently execute some of the more stylish, damaging combos that have been circulating throughout YouTube, but I can at least hold my own for the time being. I find executing links are about as equally challenging as the one-frame links featured in SF IV that I've been slowly starting to grasp with some consistency.
There was a time when I would stand and applaud a company for going to such great lengths to craft such an extensive narrative, but those days are long gone.
Although the cast of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger is a bit more condensed, many players have already called out their personal favorites including the voluptuous Litchi Faye-Ling, a doctor who regularly dwells in the lower parts of Kagutsuchi in search of the creature known as Arakune. Then there's Bang, who reminds me somewhat of Hanzo from Samurai Shodown. For the moment, I've taken a liking to Noel, a young female military solider, and Taokaka, the cat-girl warrior who often mingles with Litchi and enjoys calling her "Boobie Lady." I don't want to take anything away from the cast of SF IV, but the characters in BlazBlue are just so much more intriguing and full of personality. A lot of this is attributable to the rich, 2D hand-drawn animation and the exceptional voice work that gives each character so much life. Well, all except Arakune: his dialogue is often spoken in fragments.
You'll find the combat system has been consolidated from the standard five-button system featured in Guilty Gear to a four-button format. A, B, C and D respectively correspond to Weak, Medium, Hard, and Drive. In some fashion, it's similiar to the format that's also being utilized in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, where direction-specific inputs and an attack button will initiate unique attacks. The combo system also shares the diamondism-attack system commonly featured in Street Fighter-crossover titles as well as Guilty Gear, where most attack strings originate from Weak to Hard.
Now here's where things get a bit technical (and thus why I suggested going in search of expert documentation). Using the Drive button serves as another tool to trigger attacks. In some instances, the Drive command can aid in linking more extensive moves. You'll also need to become skilled at Rapid Cancels (BlazBlue's equivalent of the Guilty Gear Roman Cancel), executed by pressing A, B, and C simultaneously. Rapid Cancels can be your greatest asset when going on the offensive, but it's also effective for situations when you want to halt a string of attacks. When successfully executed, the animation is interrupted, thus reducing the recovery time and the possibility of your opponent gaining an opportunity to counter with a reversal.