BlazBlue Continuum Shift II Review


Title: BlazBlue Continuum Shift II
Genre: 2d Fighting Game
System: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: ARC System Works
Publisher: ARC System Works

The BlazBlue franchise originally arrived on console with BlazBlue Calamity Trigger in Japan in 2009.  It was followed up with BlazBlue Continuum Shift and later its update Continuum Shift II.  But this is the first time that a BlazBlue title has been seen on a Nintendo system.

The 3DS version features all of the modes and characters (including all DLC characters) from the console versions, as well as a new mode and new chapters in the story mode.  But let’s start from the top.

The gameplay modes available in BlazBlue CSII 3DS are as follow:

  • Training – Which begins at a very basic level and builds up
  • Arcade – Standard arcade mode in which you battle through ten opponents
  • Versus – Offline battle against a single chosen opponent
  • Score Attack – Fight rounds against tough opponents and build your score based on style, time and life remaining
  • Training – Practice using characters before taking on opponents in other game modes
  • Challenge – Each character has a set of ten challenges to complete, which guide you through the character’s special moves and combinations. Think of this mode as filling the gap between the Tutorial and Training modes
  • Legion 1.5 – Combines a strategy element to your standard gameplay.  Battle opponents to complete a map, gathering defeated enemies to fight on your side as you go
  • Abyss – Combines a roleplaying element to your standard gameplay.  Fight waves of opponents as you descend the abyss, levelling up your character with increased stats as you go
  • Story – Allows you to explore the background and characters of BlazBlue in anime cut scenes
  • Gallery – As you play, images, videos, additional character colours and other character options are unlocked and also become available to buy with points you build up by playing

For those new to the BlazBlue franchise, BlazBlue CS2 on the 3DS brings you in slowly.  If you start with the training, you begin at a very basic level and build up to a point where you can move on to the challenges, which allow you to learn the more detailed ins and outs of the characters.  And for those familiar to BlazBlue, there’s plenty of new and exclusive content to keep you busy.

BlazBlue has two control types, Technical and Stylish.  Technical allows players to use the standard BlazBlue set up of Light, Medium, Heavy and Drive attacks using the A, B, X and Y buttons.  Stylish allows players easy access to combos and special moves through a combination of direction and A, B, X and Y buttons.  In both modes the moves list for your selected character is displayed on the bottom touch screen.  It is however just simply a list of moves, easy access to the combo’s is not available simply by touching the screen.

While Stylish mode allows easy access to those new to BlazBlue, the attacks mapped to each button change depending on what move you’ve previously preformed and what direction you have the D-pad pushed in.  This means that when you do come to upgrade to the Technical control system, you will effectively be starting from scratch when learning the moves.  Stylish mode has a place at the start, for quickly going through all of BlazBlue’s available characters and finding the one you want to start with, but then I’d recommend moving on to the Technical control system straight away.

At this point I will mention that the circle pad isn’t available for character movement, which takes a little while to get used to.  I still find myself going for the circle pad for movement as it is the natural position for your hand when holding the 3DS, but the D-pad does allow you to feel the slight click when performing combos and special moves.

Across the available eighteen characters, there’s a huge range of playing styles.  Each character is effectively unique in their use and play style and even without the different game modes, BlazBlue CS2 would offer a huge amount of re-playability trying to master even just a couple of characters.  But coupled with the ten single player modes, players will be immersing themselves in the handheld world of BlazBlue for a long long time.

Which is where we come to BlazBlue’s only real major failing, the lack of online network play.  Local Versus play is available with up to two spectators, but in this era of gaming, players seek the challenge of other gamers, especially in fighting games where online play is almost a requirement out of the tournament scene.  I’m not sure of the reasons for its omission from the 3DS version of BlazBlue CS2, but it is a real shame.

Another unfortunate missed opportunity for greatness is with the visuals.  While BlazBlue CS2 3DS captures all the fantastic visuals from the console versions, the 3D features are lacking.  The cut sequences and other animation are sadly without 3D and we’ve seen what awesome visuals look like in those sequences in games like Super Street Fighter IV and Samurai Warriors.  In game, with the 3D slider up the foreground is drawn away from the background, giving an element of 3D, which does add to the visuals, but not to the extent seen in other titles and you’ll quickly find yourself playing without it.  True, the visuals without 3D are fantastic, in-game and in all animations, but it just a shame that it wasn’t developed further.

There is also no Streetpass or Spotpass functionality to speak of, making it look like a fighter that has almost been shoehorned on to the Nintendo 3DS, rather than been built for it, whereas the developers of Super Street Fighter IV and Dead or Alive Dimensions seem to have gone out of their way to make use of the 3DS’ features.

These last few points make it seem like BlazBlue CS2 2DS has errors, it doesn’t, just missed opportunities.  It could have made the difference in what is a great fighter on the 3DS, to holding the crown of fighting games on the system.

Conclusion

In summary, new BlazBlue players will find lots to entertain them here.  BlazBlue CS2 3DS is a deep fighter that rewards those that put the time in to learn.  It’s stylish and slick in its visuals and history.  Players who’ve played BlazBlue on other systems might notice the 3DS version is slightly slower and less graphically rich, but not to the detriment of the game and will find plenty of new content here in the additional game modes and story chapters to make it worth the purchase for them.  No online play and any lack of real 3D features hurt the score, but the sheer scope of content across the ten game modes ensures that it is still a contender amongst the handheld fighters.

StealthBuda’s Score – 7/10

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