Sometimes you get an eccentric bit of character design that makes you do a double-take. Take, for instance, the first time you saw Dhalsim's strange stretchy dash or Tekken's obese Bob carving somersaults through the air.
These are both examples of fighting games that make you rub your eyes in disbelief before trying the move again to make sure you weren't imagining it the first time around.
BlazBlue looks like the strangest, weirdest, craziest fighting game ever but underneath its eccentric ways beats the heart of a relatively simple fighter. Four buttons correspond to different strengths, which can be chained together and finished off with special moves or the fancy-looking Drive attacks.
As with Guilty Gear, the previous series by Arc System Works, long combos are the name of the game here. You'll start off with five-hit combos, then break double digits, and before long you'll be pushing yourself to reach ever more ludicrous hit counts.
Yet long combos are nothing new in fighting games. What makes BlazBlue so special is the ease with which you are able to pull them off. It's a game that revels in draping itself with fancy names for mundane mechanics when really, everything is incredibly simple to achieve. That leaves the game's characters - from the Gothic Lolita Rachel to the imposing figure of Tager and the ghostly weirdness of Arakune, the cast is so varied and diverse, it's impossible not to find someone you'll warm to.
Not to mention it looks glorious. By resisting the trend for 3D, BlazBlue has silky smooth 2D animation that drips with every extra drop of blood, sweat and tears that has gone into crafting it. It looks stunning.
With extra modes stuffed in alongside the obligatory online options, BlazBlue is a brilliant package for anyone who has seen long, elaborate combos in fighting games but feared they'd never have the skill level for them. The only crosses against its name are how long the game's been available overseas (almost nine months) and the balance of the roster, exposed by its time in the heat of competition. But that shouldn't stop you from giving this quirky fighting game a try.
For those who fancy something different
- Incredibly easy to get into
- Lots of character variety
- Looks stunning
- Plenty of game modes
- Not well balanced