Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 9:11PM
I remember reviewing BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger last year and the game commented on how much has changed in this current fighting game generation. I also remember some of the furry undertones [overtones at this point] the game introduced in a not-so-subtle manner. The question still remains, is their room for games like a BlazBlue given the many layers of niche veneer? The fact that the game was successful enough to beget an even more polished update in Continuum Shift says a lot. Maybe fighting games in the 2D space need to be further explored? And not in the “cool dude a retro game” way.
There is this fear I have in the recent burst of fighting game interest due to the success of Street Fighter IV and its maybe too quickly released successor, Super Street Fighter IV. Though the fighting game enthusiast will have that incessant need to stay current and own both -- Super Street Fighter IV sold marginally worse at a lesser price than its predecessor. The same result occurred for BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. What does this have to do with the nature of the game itself?
Contiuum Shift is an unabashed update more than it is a sequel. Everything works better than it did in the previous iteration. Don’t believe me? Here’s a detailed list of meticulous changes brought to you by the hardcore fanatics over at Dustloop. That list will probably be a compilation of nonsense to the average person reading this, but know that changes for the better were made. Unfortunately, Continuum Shift saw lackluster sales given its predecessor’s niche market to begin with. What happens now?
This is developer Arc System Works’ forte. When it comes to 2D fighting games with hand drawn art, they currently rule the roost. But does that mean anything in an age where technology is forcing the consumer to hop around recklessly in front of their possibly 3D enabled HD screen? How do you sell a game with scantly clad women and the occasional bushy tail? I guess I just answered my own question there. I tip my hat to Atlus for publishing these odd little Japanese-centric games in the States, but I’m wondering if this is coming at a loss to their bottom dollar.
The fan in me should only be concerned with the end-product, but I can’t be a flip-flopper. If I deem games to be a medium where one [or many] can explore it as an art form, then we must look at games like Continuum Shift as art as well. If the art isn’t making enough money to justify the further art being made then why make it on so large a scale? I appreciate it, but could BlazBlue benefited from being a downloadible game? I’m thinking out loud here and I’m sure these are questions Atlus and ArcSys both have thought about fervently.
Continuum Shift may unknowingly comment on the pitfalls of the detachment fighting games have with the worldwide audience, but if you are reading this you should give this weird game a try. Continuum Shift takes a huge step in an effort to introduce a casual fighting game player to the oddities that lay in a rich fighting game such as this. Does it hit it out of the park? No, but out of the Tekken’s, Soul Calibur’s and even Street Fighter’s, this game recognizes that there is an obvious gap that needs a bridge. If the soundtrack and flashy [and at times nonsensical] move set don’t encourage you to button mash your way to victory then perhaps deciphering the elaborate rubix cube of a narrative is up your alley.
Continuum Shift touts its story where other fighters sweep it under a blood-covered rug. Considering that the story was barely comprehensible in Calamity Trigger, for what its worth, Continuum Shift dices the retro manga-style story into very digestible chunks. Barring the obvious Story mode, there is an animated short mode hand drawn specifically catering to a crowd who genuinely wants to know what the basic world of BlazBlue is made of. The fact that Arc System Works even humored this idea is kudos enough, but to do it in such a charming manner is fairly poignant.
Underneath it all, Continuum Shift knows who will buy this game day-one. The depth in balancing when to use Bursts and the 4 or 5 other gauges found in a single match is a testament that the game knows who will love it. Yet, Continuum Shift still went the extra mile of including more players if they wanted a step-by-step guide. More than fighting games could learn from this. And judging by the lackluster sales of Continuum Shift, there is still a fishy line between when to cater to fans and gouging them.
I loved Continuum Shift, really and truly, but when marketing and inexplicable reads of the general gaming audience fail to give a great game a fighting chance it almost seems fruitless to buy the game. One of the game’s major features is its sleek online play, but if you and eight others are the only playing with a decent connection, a feature-rich mode is turned into a ghost town. You only get one chance to make a first impression in most forms of media, but the games industry seems to be the only genre where the consumer bays for a clear and distinct number to follow the franchise name. Hopefully the marketing and talent will function on the same wavelength in the event that a BlazBlue 2 is released.
I give BlazBlue: Continuum Shift …
The “Otaku, I Choose You” Award