I have always considered myself to be a slightly above average gamer when it comes to fighting games – I might never win a tournament, but against random opponents I can generally end up with more wins than losses. My game of choice has always been Mortal Kombat because it’s simple, and relatively easy to pick up and play. I dabble in Street Fighter, and really enjoy Tekken as well, but the Kombat series was my bread and butter. When I heard that a new challenger had come into the mix in 2009, I was intrigued. No matter how much I wanted to though, I was never able to find the time to actually play the first game, BlazBlue Calamity Trigger – thankfully though with the release of the PS Vita, I have the perfect opportunity to finally see what the fuss is all about.
First and foremost, I have to say that BlazBlue is frickin CRAZY. I’m used to a slower paced, more methodical fighting game, but BlazBlue is non stop action. I am so glad that there is a robust tutorial mode to basically explain things to you, because there is just so MUCH to remember. There are more systems and mechanics in play here than I think I’ve ever experienced before in a game like this – in short, the experience should have been terrifying for a newcomer. Yet I said should have been for a reason – BlazBlue is incredibly easy to follow once you get started. Yes, some of the more advanced characters (like the ones that allow you to basically control two people at once) are still above my level, but once I started learning someone I never felt overwhelmed with things to know.
I’ve heard from people that this version is much easier to get started with than the first game, so I am very happy that I chose “now” to get into the world – and what a world it is! Thankfully, the story mode of Calamity Trigger is included with this game, so you can get all of the back story before delving into the new story of the Continuum Shift. One thing about the story though, is that it is incredibly complex and deep – not bat-shit crazy like Tekken. The story branches out into numerous different ways after you complete the main story, which gives you a chance to see different endings fairly easily. The story is also presented in such a way that anime fans will feel right at home – from the slick looking animated sections, to the sometimes campy dialog (Taokaka calling Litchi “Boobie lady” for example); this whole game feels like it could be made into a full anime series with ease.
Continuum Shift Extend comes with a slew of extra features that you won’t find in the other “Continuum Shift” versions of the game. For starters, it adds a new character in Relius Clover on top of the already hefty roster that you can play. “Extend” also features four new stories for the characters of Platinum the Trinity, Makoto Nanaya, Valkenhayn R. Hellsing, and Relius Clover. If that wasn’t enough, the “Extend” version of Continuum Shift also has a new game mode called “Unlimited Mars”. Lastly this version has some extra balance tweaks, and a new opening theme song (again, just like every new season of an anime would). Truly, they have set this up as the “perfect” version of the game.
As it seems that the Vita version of Extend is just a port of the full sized console versions, there are no special Vita bells and whistles – which is fine by me. I would rather a game not have some corny rear touch screen mechanic added just to take advantage of something the hardware could do – if it doesn’t need to be there, then don’t add it basically. Playing this game on the crystal clear Vita screen though makes it look damn well perfect, and that right there is the biggest reason to get it for the Vita (besides the portability that is). The multiplayer on the Vita works pretty well too (provided you’re on Wi-Fi) – though I’m not sure if this supports cross-platform play for PS3 owners; some places say yes it does, others say yes for saves only, and still others say not at all. I don’t have anyone on my list that has a PS3 version to try and play with though, but I have asked the developers and will update this when I hear back. It would make sense for it to have it, so if it doesn’t yet I can only assume it will be patched in at some point in the future.
The biggest problem with Extend is one that most fighting games face: the single player experience. While the story is utterly fantastic, there is more difficulty and balance issues in the single player modes than you would normally want to see in a game like this. Take the new Unlimited Mars mode for example – this is supposed to be the ultimate hard mode, where a person squares off against the Unlimited (or super powered) versions of every character for a high score. With a mode like that, you would think only a seasoned expert would be able to make it through it, right? Well, all a neonate has to do is pick Tager and use his “towards + circle” attack to decimate everyone. For some reason the AI just doesn’t understand how to block him. On the same note, in the story there are some fights when you will go from a difficulty where anyone could beat the opponent to one where the AI seems to spam distortion drive attacks with no warning.
The Bottom Line: BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend is by far one of the best fighting games I’ve played, and while it might not be for everyone its positives far outweigh the negatives for the fighting game aficionado.
- One of the most complex fighting games out there
- A story that could be found in an anime series, with animated cut scenes to match
- Some of the most dynamic and interesting characters I’ve ever had the privilege to play
- The AI is inconsistent at best, laughable at worst
- The complexity will only appeal to people who love fighting games
- No Vita specific bonuses to encourage people to buy this version over the console versions
You can get a copy of BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend for the PS Vita (which was the version reviewed here) from Amazon for $39.99 – the Playstation 3 and XBOX 360 versions are also available there for $39.96