Blazblue ReviewPatrick Honeyman
Weapon-based fighters. Although not in great numbers, the ones that exist are generally quite good and go for either the free roaming approach to fighting or classic one-on-one setup with different takes on the main game system and how the action plays out. When a game takes a new spin on weapons based combat and combines the best of the old fighting game ideas to create something truly fresh and new, thats something to be appreciated. Welcome to Blazblue portable.
Originally released in the arcades, then brought to the PS3 and Xbox 360 and now ported over to the PSP, Blazblue is the latest fighting game from developer Arc System Works that pits two fighters against each other in a fight to determine the victor. Players are given four basic attack buttons that will allow them to use punch, kick and weapon based attacks as well as a fourth button that allows players to utilise character specific moves, referred to as the drive button. Not only does this make the game unique from other fighting games but it makes the games roster feel like 12 entirely separate characters as well. You wont find Ryu, Ken and Akuma-like characters to use here. Even the two starter-friendly characters in the roster, Ragna and Jin, will take sometime for players to get used to before they can perform basic combos and show their skills in a versus match. This is great to see in a new fighting game as not since the original Street Fighter II has the feeling of having a roster of different characters where you have to learn their ins and outs to truly get the best from them felt so apparent and compliments to ASW for achieving this.
The PSP version of the game has many of the modes from its older brother such as Arcade, Story, Versus, Training, Gallery as well as a Shop that allows you to buy character art, Astral Heat moves and Unlimited versions of characters as well as a mode called Legion. This mode allows players to work through a grid, winning fights and gaining characters to join their legion so you can take different characters into battle and earn more of the in-game currency so you can buy different items from the games Shop. Although just another mode to allow you to engage in the games fights its a nice idea and you can easily earn the in-game currency via this mode so if you want to buy the items in the shop quickly playing this mode lots will be the way to do it. Players can also playing versus via Wi-Fi meaning that you can have a game with your friend either on the train or whilst sat outside at a posh coffee shop, all the while cursing into thin air as you either kick ass or get your ass kicked. Once you have started a match the Wi-Fi is fairly consistent and apart from a couple of occasions where you will experience lag it is fairly solid as far as Wi-Fi play is concerned.
Retaining the games graphics on the PSP was always going to be a challenge but ASW have done a sterling job here of scaling down the game for play on the PSP whilst at the same time retaining all of the look and charm of the arcade original. In fact, looking at the game in play it appears that all frames have been retained, characters and backgrounds look solid and the game also retains the original soundtrack intact. Not too bad for a PSP fighter after all. Control-wise inputs are fairly responsive and almost always come out on the D-pad but anyone who is a fighting fan well knows, the PSP does not have the best control method when it comes to pulling off intricate skills and manoeuvres in fighting games period. Players will find at their disposal regular street fighter-style special moves, supers as well as faultless guarding, mid-move cancels (that take 50% of the super bar) and Astral Heat moves that can be done in the last round, if you have a full super bar and if the enemy has 20% off their health left. Theyre basically a flashy way of finishing off you opponent and thankfully are a rare resort rather than commonly used which is how it should be. As previously mentioned, beginners may have a hard time with the game as this is not for entry level players but the depth the games system provides will allow fighting game fans to find some interesting combos and strategies to use when playing someone of equal level.
Despite issues with the D-pad and the lack of accessibility for new players Blazblue portable is a nice and compact fighter for the PSP. Side-by-side with Guilty Gear XX: Accent Core and Street Fighter Alpha 3 it stands proudly with the best fighters the portable has to offer and should be picked up by anyone who is remotely a fan of 2D fighting games.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.