BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend Vita Review

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced with the Vita was selecting what game I should buy out of it’s impressive library. For a full release game, I chose the 2D fighter BlazBlue. BlazBlue is made by Arc System Works (Arksys), who are the creators of the prestigious Guilty Gear franchise. BlazBlue is the spiritual successor to this series. I like fighters, internet, but fighters most definitely don’t like me. The problem is that I can never focus enough on only one game long enough to master it, which is necessary for fighters, and why I hate MMOs. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t try to like the genre. The problem is that I rarely, if ever move past absolute beginner, and perpetually get destroyed by the hardcore online community. I played the original BlazBlue, and it was one of those fighters that clicked with me, causing me to platinum it, making it one of the only games with an online component that I actually collected all of the trophies for. I was enticed by its unique cast of characters, especially compared to the largely cut and paste Street Fighter, which I was far more familiar with. I missed all of the revisions to BlazBlue since the original, so I went into this game with only the original as a guide. So, enough with the background, let’s look at whether the game is good or not.

Why yes, there aren’t sixteen Ryus in this cast.
Looking first at the specific nature of the Vita port of BlazBlue, it doesn’t use any of the system’s bells and whistles such as the microphone or touchscreen, which is a blessing, as such an addition would be really tacked on in the same way as it is for several of the other Vita games. However, BlazBlue does benefit greatly from the Vita’s impressive OLED screen. All characters are made of high quality hand-drawn sprites and this comes across very well on the Vita, and it is difficult, if at all possible, to distinguish between the PS3 version and the Vita version of the game. The good online connectivity of the Vita allows for quick and largely lag-free online matches, and the loading time are kept to a minimal. All in all, BlazBlue for the Vita is a largely successful port. 

Now that the port issues are out of the way, let’s look at how the game plays, starting with the controls. The Vita’s D-pad and input buttons are responsive and effective for controlling your fighter. There are times where the size of the input buttons makes my thumb slip onto X when I don’t want to but this is a minor issue. The only real problem with the controls is that every fighting aficionado will tell you that you have to have an arcade stick deck… thing in order to properly play them. As I said, I will never be hardcore enough of a fighting fan, but the fact that the Vita is not compatible with these decks could be a major deterrence for hardcore fighting fans, but these fans will likely own the game for the PS3, or 360, so it is generally a non-issue.

I am so not interested in paying for something like this. I’ll stick to mediocrity thank you (I’m sorry).
Looking at the gameplay, this is where Blazblue leaves all other fighters far behind it. It is an extremely well balanced game with a major emphasis on combos and speed. While there are tiers, the difference in relative quality of characters is such that really every character is usable, and every character is completely unique. Aside from unique attacks and move lists, each character has a unique Drive attack assigned to the X button. This attack can vary between making a health stealing heavy attack, freezing the opponent, rushing at them, or setting up floating turrets. This makes each character play completely different than all of the others, which can be intimidating for new players, but ultimately makes BlazBlue a superior game. The gameplay is extremely deep. Non-fighting fans may have a hard time getting into the game, but singleplayer modes (Discussed below) help this problem. 
Gaze into its cold, dead eyes!
Every fighting fan will tell you that the most important aspect of a fighting game is its online play. I disagree. I, like many others, will never be good enough to successfully compete online, and, therefore, singleplayer modes are extremely important to me. In this regard, BlazBlue does not come up short. The basic arcade mode makes an appearance as well as a harder version of it called Score Attack Mode. This caps off with a mode called Unlimited Mars, which you can get a trophy for just trying to beat it several times, as it is so hard, the developers didn’t anticipate anyone actually conquering the thing. Outside of this there is a robust story mode, which brings in every character, has branching paths and has a couple of fun “what if” segments. I’m a sucker for overly convoluted crazy anime-inspired stories, so, in my opinion, the story is top notch. If you are looking for something more dour and down to earth, than the story isn’t for you. Additionally, the story from the first game is included so new players really have no reason to buy an earlier version to find out what has been going on. Finally, there is the Abyss mode, which challenges you against a huge variety of fights allowing you to power up your character in a quasi-RPG manner as you proceed through the depths. All in all, unlike the severely lacking Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, BlazBlue is flooded with singleplayer modes, so the weak and squishy, such as myself, can justify a purchase.
Lolita vampires. Yep, it’s from Japan.
 Finally let’s look a the music, sound effects and voice acting. I once heard the music in BlazBlue described as a modern rock opera, and I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. The character themes are high octane rock ballads, which are surprisingly catchy. The sound effects on the other hand suffer a little bit. Possibly because of the Vita, the sound effects come across as muffled and are generally not particularly well done (Maybe should have gone in the second paragraph, but to hell with you and your precious logic). The voice acting suffers for this effect too, but it doesn’t affect the quality of the voice acting, which is top notch. Quite a huge part of the story is fully voice acted and the talent behind the many characters clearly knows what they are doing. There may be one or two performances which have been phoned in, but altogether, the voice acting is definitely above average.
The voice actors for these characters are married, which is either creepy or cute depending on how much you dwell on the characters they play.
BlazBlue is a blast to play and a definite joy to own for a gamer of any skill level. It may be a little more complicated than a casual might prefer, and it may not have access to an arcade stick, which the hardcore audience may prefer, but altogether, both parties should be able to enjoy this latest entry into the series. It looks great. It plays great, and it is definitely a game where any player can spend dozens if not hundreds of hours of their life in. Now, Arksys, make Persona 4: Arena just as good, and I’ll be happy.
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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