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Taunt Button Review
A fast, accessible fighter that you can play on a standard controller.
100% Heat Review
My first fighting-game experience was getting completely destroyed by someone in Mortal Kombat because I didn’t know you could block sweeps. Why should I have? My character squatted awkwardly and held his hands up in a classic “not-the-face!” pose. Why would that stop someone kicking my ankles out from under me? The result was me standing by haplessly as my opponent spammed sweeps for two rounds.
Fortunately, Mortal Kombat was available on home consoles, and I was able to enjoy the experience of ripping out an opponent’s spine without interference from hustlers and spammers. But that security and fun comes at a cost. I was stuck trying to capture that arcade fighting experience on controllers that were never meant to hold it.
It’s not just that the D-Pad is inferior to the arcade joystick. That’s a given, but it’s not a dealbreaker. A good D-pad can be just as effective as a joystick, it’s just that nobody makes good D-pads anymore. No, the real problem is that most fighting games use five or six buttons, but standard controllers only have four face-buttons. Street Fighter games are virtually unplayable on a controller, because a third of the buttons you need for bashing out a combo are on the opposite side of the controller from everything else. It’s awkward, like sending the heavy attacks to go sit at the kid’s table on Thanksgiving.
BlazBlue: Chronophantasma Extend is a game that understands that. It’s also a game with a title so long that you can’t say anything meaningful about it on Twitter, so henceforth I’m going to refer to it as "simply BlazBlue." Simply Blazblue only has four attack buttons: light, medium, medium-heavy and heavy. There’s a fifth button for taunt, but it’s largely unnecessary and it seems to only exist to add some silly animations to training mode. On balance, it’s a fighting game that is as friendly to people without arcade fight-sticks as a fighting game can be, and that’s without factoring in the “press a button, win a combo” mode that simplifies the control scheme even further, for videogame tourists like me who just want to see the cutscenes.
And simply BlazBlue has a lot of cutscenes, because it’s not just a fighting game; it’s a fighting game crossed with a visual novel. If you jump into the story mode, you’re treated to lots of subtitled voicework by Japanese actors. I’m going to come right out and admit that I haven’t played the story mode yet, because that’s not why I play fighting games, but it’s neat that it’s there for other people.
Speaking of things that I haven’t tried yet, simply Blazblue has a staggering number of modes. There’s the standard story and arcade modes that you would expect, and there’s an online mode for people who like that sort of thing, but there are also a ton of tutorial and instruction modes, as well as score-attack, challenge and survival modes. Truly, there’s something for everyone.
One more round?
I will definitely be keeping simply Blazblue installed on my computer. While it’s not positioned to supplant Tekken 7 as my favorite four-button fighting game, it’s certainly edged out Skullgirls in terms of speed and Street Fighter 4 in terms of pure fun. It beats Marvel vs Capcom 3 in a walk, simply because the arcade mode is beatable – a condition which Marvel vs Capcom 3 fails to meet on any difficulty.
Seriously, who thought Galactus was a good idea for a fighting-game boss?
Is it the Dark Souls of fighting games
I don’t know what the Dark Souls of fighting games would look like. Maybe Bushido Blade qualifies, but I’ve never played it so I can’t posit.
Regardless, simply Blazblue wouldn’t qualify as the Dark Souls of fighting games even if I could think of one. It’s the most accessible 2D fighting game I’ve ever played. Summed up, the game offers a little something for all players, regardless of skill level or mode preference. You can kick back with a visual novel sprinkled with fighting matches, or you can hit the classic arcade mode, or you can go online and get completely destroyed by people who’ve been playing the game for two years. That doesn’t make it a Dark Souls-equivalent, but it does make it fun.