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Metallion avatar 8:10 AM on 02.02.2011  (server time)
Groundhog Day: BlazBlue

First of all, let me say that I am particularly happy with this month's musing topic. I'm not the kind of guy that writes blogs to bitch and moan. I write about games because I absolutely love games. In fact, taking a single game or franchise and conveying my love for them is exactly what my River City Retro series is all about. Since this is a musing and not an RCR issue though, I am going to take this opportunity to talk about a current gen game for a change. That game is BlazBlue Continuum Shift.

I'm a natural born fighting game fan. Seriously, I was a hardcore fan before I had ever even played a fighting game. As soon as I saw Street Fighter II for the first time in a magazine, I knew that this was THE game for me. I didn't have a SNES yet and my mom would never let play on arcade machines but that didn't stop me. I'd watch other people play SFII for hours and then throw makeshift hadoukens at my friends in the schoolyard.

When I finally did get my SNES, the system was already pretty old and I had enough money for seven games. Among them were Street Fighter II Turbo, Mortal Kombat II, Primal Rage and Killer Instinct. Up until the PS2 generation, it was pretty much the same story. Tekken Tag Tournament was the system seller for me and my final collection consists of 80% fighting games.

The current generation's a different story. BlazBlue is the only fighting game I own and I think it's going to be like this for a long time. Does that mean I'm unimpressed with Super Street Fighter IV and the rest of the PS3's fighting catalogue? No, absolutely not. SSFIV is a piece of art and so are several other titles. How come I'm just playing BlazBlue and nothing else then?

The answer is competition. I just don't have any friends that are as much into fighting games as I am. Sure, some people I know like to play them but I'd always beat them down with both hands behind my back. Same goes for the CPU. It's fun for a while but then you just start owning the final boss at maximum difficulty. I used to get enough of my games over time and needed new ones for an extra challenge. The difference that BlazBlue offers me is online multiplayer.

When you've got a good game on your hands, multiplayer just doesn't get old. Just look at chess for instance. That game has existed for centuries and people are still passionately playing it. Playing with other people and watching other people play just keeps a game fresh. People keep coming up with new strategies and there will always be somebody better than you. Up until now, I have only been playing one single character in BlazBlue and I still feel like that character has plenty of secrets left for me to uncover. As long as there are still people playing BlazBlue online, I will be playing BlazBlue online.

I know what you're thinking now. Plenty of current gen fighting games have online play so why BlazBlue? There are a few reasons. For starters the art style drew me to it. It just makes me smile to see those 2D sprites. You know how that moment when the camera zooms out and passes the characters before a fight starts? That's a thing of beauty! And that's not all. There's that general style too. So colourful but yet so dark and gritty at the same time.

Even the Engrish announcer kind of draws me to the game. It's an example of how little things can give quite a different feel to a game. I smile every time I hear "Rebel One" emanating from my speakers. It's like wrestling promotion TNA using a six sides ring until recently. The same wrestling is taking place inside it, but the gimmick just gives off a slightly different feeling.

My third and final point are the characters themselves. They all feel so different and unique. I can't really think of any character whose play style can immediately be applied to another. This provides for very interesting matchups and lots of stuff for me to learn. As much as I love BlazBlue though, I have to admit that it isn't perfect either. Calamity Trigger was an balance nightmare and Continuum Shift still has some way too obvious tiers. Up until now Continuum Shift II looks like it's doing better but it's still too early to judge it. I hope they will eventually get it right but even if they don't, I'm gonna be playing this game for quite some time more.

This has been Metallion and I adore BlazBlue.

Bonus: If you're interested, you can check out an interview I conducted with a pro BlazBlue player about a year ago.

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