Why haven’t you played BlazBlue yet?

September 29, 2009 at 6:57 pm Leave a comment

blazblueNo, it isn’t a misspelling. Yes, it is an absurdity. But beyond the over-the-top character designs and convoluted anime-style plotline is a fantastic 2D fighting game that looks great and plays better. Taking a step back from the tangled mess of advanced techniques that their previous fighter, Guilty Gear, had become in its later iterations, Arc System Works has taken a much simpler approach to their new game. Immediately apparent is the small character roster and comparatively slow gameplay. However, these few characters are more original, and have more depth, than the rosters of most other games, and the reduced speed makes the game less about reflexes and more about out-thinking your opponent (This reduction in speed can be seen in other gaming franchises as well. The change from Super Smash Brothers Melee to Brawl comes to mind, for instance. It seems that in the GameCube/PS2 era developers were making games faster simply because they now had the processing power to do so, and now they are realizing that a slightly slower game is more accessible and appealing for the majority of gamers).

Now, this is not to say that ArcSys has abandoned their competitive community. On the contrary, the game is still quite geared toward this scene, as evidenced by how closely they have worked with both members of Dustloop (the online Guilty Gear community) and arcade-goers to help balance and introduce the game to newcomers. Furthermore, a new version of the game, Continuum Shift, has already been announced (for arcade release first, and consoles later) that bears numerous balance tweaks and two new characters. Despite its flaws, Guilty Gear stood as one of the most well-balanced fighters on the market due to this very strategy of rereleasing the game to accomodate for the evolving play of the competitive community.

Ragna

Heroism is one part courage, two parts ridiculous hair.

However, I worry that this strategy may be slowly becoming outdated, and I hope that ArcSys has the foresight to change with the increased freedoms that technology provides them. The most obvious of these changes is to release subsequent versions of the game via DLC. Beyond its convenience, it would be a financially sound decision for the company: I believe that more people would be aware of and willing to purchase an online add-on than they would an entirely new game, and the consumer would benefit from the lower price insured by DLC’s circumvention of manufacturing and shipping costs (There may actually be a fee for distributing wares online on consoles…though I’m sure disc-based production is still more costly).

Furthermore, I hope that ArcSys will not tie themselves down to the arcade standard of measuring competitive play in the future. Though I realize that the arcade scene in Japan is much more alive and robust than ours in the states, it seems that once our online capabilities have pushed input lag completely out of the picture (it’s still a problem on PSN and XBL at the moment, as even a frame or two can make a difference in this genre), the online community will become a much more competitive place, and a much larger (and international) pool from which to draw contructive feedback on the game. Eventually I like to imagine a system akin to those found in popular MMO’s: the company analyzing the current online metagame, and regularly “patching” it to ensure that characters are balanced properly. However, we are still some years away from being able to realize this goal, and at the moment, ArcSys is still leading the pack.

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Entry filed under: BlazBlue, gaming. Tags: , .

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