Arc System Works' BlazBlue fighting games, with their unique anime-style visuals and enjoyable fighting engines, have become quite popular among fans of the genre. Of course, this makes it all the more confusing to see them take such a high-quality series and dumb it down for their DSiWare spinoff release BlayzBloo: Super Melee Action Battle Royale. Now instead of one-on-one fighting action, you get a 4 player beat 'em up that feels like a far less playable version of Super Smash Bros.
The basic gameplay premise of BlayzBloo is quite simple. Using a basic set of attack and jump moves, you must battle it out against the three other players on the field. While the simple attack will prove to be your most frequently used offensive weapon, you'll also have a special Drive Move for times when you need to lay a little extra beat down. You'll even find treasure chests popping up around the stage that contain specialty items to be picked up and used against your opponents. Of course, the lack of any type of block move means that you'll also have to spend some of your time moving away from attacks in order to survive as well.
When you take on the game as a solo experience, you can do so in one of several ways. The matches can be played by three different rule sets: a Life Match pits you in an all-out duel to be the last character standing whereas a Points Match can be won by the character with the most earned points at the end of the round. The game even offers up a Flag Match that allows all players to fight over a cute little Panda Flag, with the character left holding it at the end of the round being the winner. In the single player mode, you'll take on the game's five basic stages in order, each with their own unique set of rules. And if you'd like to customise things a bit more, you can choose to play in Free Battle Mode where you can choose the sets of rules and the stage.
If you're feeling a bit competitive, the game also offers up a multiplayer Free Battle Mode, which basically plays exactly as it does in the Single Player – only this time, you can bring in other players who have DSi systems and a copy of the game. While this doesn't add much in the way of playability, it's still a nice feature for those who like to play with friends, although a download play function might have made it a bit more enticing.
The controls themselves function fairly well, but it's the serious lack of depth that ultimately hurts the playability the most. The simple attack system never feels like it offers up enough variety, and once you've exhausted the minimal set of variations, there's not much left to enjoy. Couple this together with a sometimes cheap AI system and you've got a gameplay experience that's not only overly rudimentary, but also somewhat frustrating to boot.
The cel-shaded visuals are certainly easy on the eyes, but much like the control system, the visuals are fairly basic in design. You won't see a lot of flashy detail throughout the various stages, and even the silky smooth animation of the characters isn't enough to improve the overall experience too much. The same goes for the musical performance – there are a few interesting tracks to enjoy, but that's if you can somehow ignore the rather annoying voice announcer and character sound effects that muddy up the audio.
As a general rule, when you start messing with a winning formula, bad things tend to follow. BlayzBloo isn't a terrible game, it's just terribly mediocre. When you factor in the extremely limited content with the very bland and shallow gameplay system, you get a fighting experience that you'll likely be tired of within the first 15 minutes of playing it. Even diehard fans of the series might want to pass on this rather lacklustre spinoff and instead stick to the far more creative standard releases.