Game Review

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift 2 Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Christopher Ingram

Keeping the 2D brawlers alive and well

The catalogue of 3DS launch games has, arguably, been a mixed bag. Unlike the DS before it, however, the 3DS is quickly building a fantastic stable of fighting games with Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition and Dead or Alive: Dimensions; BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II is no exception. Until now, this stylish 2D brawler has been missing from Nintendo consoles, but the time for rejoicing begins now.

In 2009 the strangely named BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger landed on the HD systems, and unexpectedly stood face-to-face as a contender with the freshly released Street Fighter 4. Developed by Arc Systems, the cast of characters offered wildly eccentric personalities and fighting styles, while also featuring an in-depth Story Mode that dramatically brought these characters to life. Superb graphics, a deep fighting engine that was easy to pick up and play but hard to master, a rockin’ soundtrack and great online multiplayer were but a few reasons explaining how this new entry to the genre became a podium contender. Sadly, Nintendo’s hardware restraints left wannabe BlazBlue fans out in the cold, until now.

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II is the first entry to the series on a Nintendo platform, but there is no reason for worry, as newcomers are just as welcome here as the series veterans. The Story Mode returns and each of the lengthy character specific storylines play out in anime styled cut scenes, featuring near full voice-over dialogue in both English and Japanese, impressive for a cart based game. This eccentric cast of characters are heavily influenced by Japanese culture, and each one stands out in their own unique way; there’s the robot ninja Hakumen, ghostly Arakune, or the giant Iron Tager to name a few. Not to mention the fact that they all have their own unique fighting styles to boot, unlike some Street Fighter characters with similar fighting styles, such as Ryu and Ken.

With the roster line-up being 18 characters deep, mastering the vast array of fighting styles may seem like a daunting task. Fear not though, as a deep Tutorial Mode gives step-by-step instructions for everything from the basics of a 2D fighting game to character specific strategies, and does a great job of easing newcomers and advanced players into the game. Also, the bottom screen displays the character’s moves list during combat for quick reference, though unlike other 3DS brawlers this doesn’t allow for quick combos via touchscreen buttons. The Training and Challenge Modes further help you to learn advanced character specific combos and techniques.

The basics in BlazBlue are quite simple, using the four face buttons for different attacks: Light, Medium, Strong and Drive. The L and R shoulder buttons, as well as the Circle Pad - Up, Down, Left and Right directions only - can all be remapped into alternate attacks that require multiple button presses for moves such as grabs and blocks, while the D-Pad does the dirty work of moving the character around the screen. The ‘click’ of the D-pad helps when performing combos, as it makes you aware of your button presses. The Drive button triggers character specific special attacks, the attack varying depending on the direction button pressed. Basic attacks and ranged attacks do little damage to an opponent’s health, and are mainly used to initiate a combo into Drive attacks and advanced combos. Basic combos are relatively easy to pull off – especially when using the beginner friendly ‘Stylish’ controls – but truly mastering any character will take hours of exploring move sets.

There is more depth to the battle system, starting with the Heat Gauge, which fills during battle and can be used to pull off powerful Distortion Drive combos, or instant-kill finishing Astral Heat moves. Cancels allow you to cancel the cool down on some attacks, which can then be strategically transformed into massive combos. Aerial attacks are taken to the next level, with the ability to juggle opponents from the ground to the air in continuous combo strings, and some characters even specialize in aerial projectiles and Drive attacks to blast across the screen towards opponents at will. Further advanced strategies are available as well for those who truly want to become the ultimate fighter, though this depth shouldn't scare you away, as only the basics are necessary to stand as a competent fighter.

Many other modes round out the package: Arcade (character’s story infused into standard Arcade mode gameplay), Versus (offline fight against computer AI), Score Attack (compete for the highest score), Legion 1.5 (map-based strategy mode, where fallen opponents become allies to help conquer the entire map), Abyss (defeat waves of enemies to strengthen your character’s stats, and try to reach the bottom), and Network (local multiplayer). But, where is the Online Mode? Well, it isn’t here, and it’s one of the title’s few drawbacks. The Versus Mode does a good job of mimicking an online mode, and even without a true online mode there is still plenty of content to keep the replay value high. The Gallery features massive amounts of unlockable content to acquire though the use of P$. Fulfilling specific requirements during battle and gaining levels (gained simply by extended gameplay) will earn P$, which can then be spent to acquire a multitude of content such as concept art, soundtracks and alternate costumes. Anyone out to earn everything the Gallery has to offer could easily put in over 100 hours of gameplay.

The series has always featured outstanding visuals, and while the transition to the 3DS has expectedly seen a significant drop in detail from the HD systems, the game still looks great on the small screen. With the 3D fully enabled the characters stand out in front of vivid multi-layered backgrounds, and it is absolutely beautiful to behold. There is a noticeable frame rate drop when 3D is utilized, but the effect makes the small sacrifice worth it. The soundtrack has made a near perfect transition to the portable system too, and in tandem with the 3D, brings the world of BlazBlue to life with superb results.

Conclusion

It’s one thing to treasure a character in a fighting game for their move set, but it’s another to treasure the character for their unique personality as well. BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II successfully brings this player/fighter relationship to reality on the 3DS, and sets it on top of an outstanding battle engine with a multitude of gameplay modes. Even with the lack of online multiplayer, the enormous amount of unlockable content will keep the brawls going long after the first punch is thrown. BlazBlue has finally landed on a Nintendo console, and there’s truly no better time to find out what all the fuss is about.

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User Comments (47)

J-Forest-Esq

#1

J-Forest-Esq said:

Ah, it's not announced in the UK. That's why I hadn't heard about it. Any chance it will be?

GameLord08

#4

GameLord08 said:

Great thing I held out on Street Fighter; I particularly want to give this a try. I believed it would appeal to me a bit more. I'm glad to see they have the same ratings; I'm going to be getting this instead when I get a 3DS.

Didn't expect it to be out this soon when it was announced though. :O

EDIT: Wait wait wait, no online? No online? Flip, I'm off to buy SSFIV3D. Sorry, changed my mind; no online = no deal.

Knux

#5

Knux said:

Despite the fact I already own Super Street Fighter IV 3D and Dead or Alive: Dimensions, I really would have consider buying this if this had online multiplayer. But as it is, I will pass on this game. Great review though!

VincentX

#6

VincentX said:

I've played this version and I gotta say it feels like a really lazy port.
The sound quality is absolutely terrible as any time the characters talk during a fight or louder sound effects go off the speakers crackle.
There's a weird blur for the menus and the text re-size is pretty bad as well.
Also there are plenty of framerate drops during fights when they start getting intense. Noel's Chain Revolver attacks really show this as her Down-D attack makes it stutter.
It's certainly playable and there's a lot more content than in the console versions; but it's far from great. If you can get past the multiple issues it is fun, but it is certainly not worth the full $40 price tag. I say go with Street Fighter and DOA as both are much better choices.

Knux

#10

Knux said:

@Mickeymac-Yeah, I read that the Vita version will have online multiplayer. So I will either go with that version or one of the console versions.

6ch6ris6

#11

6ch6ris6 said:

wow 3ds has such a lame launch time but we already have 3 awesome fighting games^^

too bad i hate fighting games xD

LEGEND_MARIOID

#12

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Sounds good and another good addition to the 3DS library increasing its % of quality games. However, I won't be getting it because of the devs exclusional comments criticising SFIV 3DS.Also its a heavily hardcore leaning game wrt combos and if you want to be a good player at this game you will have a lot to learn. That wouldn't bother me a few years ago, but can't be bothered with that now. Getting Bleach Dark Souls DS and One Piece Gigant Battle DS instead. Bleach DS I already have actually, and its superb :-)

Hope whoever gets it enjoys it. I wouldn't get it on the Vita though, I'd go for the 3DS version all the way

RadioShadow

#14

RadioShadow said:

So you can't use the Circle Pad to move the character? You have to use the D-Pad?

I think I'll pass on this one. I will be getting the Xbox 360 version some when this year.

Plus these comments about "no on-line" are really lame. It's like you guys enjoy playing against random strangers you will never ever see in your life! :P

SigourneyBeaver

#16

SigourneyBeaver said:

@14 I agree. So the game offers nothing else without online multiplayer. The work the devs did in creating the single player was a waste of time, was it?

The only way anyone making these comments can be excused is for them to be a maximum of 20 years old. LOL!

Back in my day when this was all fields...

thanos316

#17

thanos316 said:

After this review you got me wanting to pick up a 3ds. Gonna give the purchase a lil more time though cause i have this feeling that ninty will redesign it some way or the other.. well good review of the game and it has my money as soon as i pick up a 3ds..

CanisWolfred

#18

CanisWolfred said:

I've never played a fighter online in my life and I'm not about to start anytime soon. I'm waiting for Plus Revitalized just because it'll be a different game than the console version, which I already have.

revoc

#19

revoc said:

I've been semi-following this game since it came out. Some things to watch out for:

1) No online play
2) No circle pad. D-pad only
3) Sleep mode doesn't work. If you close the lid, the game keeps on going.
4) 3-d seems tacked on.

Noire

#20

Noire said:

If I hadn't already bought this on the PS3 (and all the downloadable characters and Unlimited unlocks) I might give this a shot. Also if I had money. Oh well, it's cool for people who haven't given the series a shot.

FonistofCruxis

#21

FonistofCruxis said:

Having to use the D-pad instead of the circle pad and sleep mode not working is annoying but I don't own any other consoles that this game is on so I'll still get it.

Slapshot

#22

Slapshot said:

@VincentX The sound issue your having is likely an issue with your system. My first system had the same issue, but I had no problems with the sound in all my playtime.

@revoc The D-pad works wonderful here, as the 'clicky' feel makes using the pad not an issue.

I didn't catch the sleep mode not activating, as I just pause the game and shut the lid usually. I didn't catch this, but it still doesn't change my final opinion on the game.

I'm amazed that Arc Systems crammed so much into such a small cart. I'll be playing this game for a longtime to come! :)

shonenjump86

#23

shonenjump86 said:

The GameStop that I go to only had 1 copy of this game. Not anymore since I picked it up. This game is also somewhat hard to find on the consoles as well. I would try Amazon.com for those who want to get this game.

VincentX

#24

VincentX said:

@Slapshot
None of my other games do it though so I assumed it was Blazblue doing it. Oh well, the sound compression is still pretty poor though.
What games did you hear the crackling sound on?

VincentX

#25

VincentX said:

@Slapshot
None of my other games do it though so I assumed it was Blazblue doing it. Oh well, the sound compression is still pretty poor though.
What games did you hear the crackling sound on?

belmont

#26

belmont said:

I like the PS3 version of this game very much. Since I don't hane a 3ds I 'll get the PSP version.

daznsaz

#27

daznsaz said:

i had sf and traded it got doa not a big fan of fighters but ill keep doa good for popping online dont like 2d fighters with over complicated controls so wont bother with this

Slapshot

#28

Slapshot said:

@VincentX Rayman 3D was by far the worst issue I had. Even with the sound turned nearly off, my first 3DS consoles sound cracked every few seconds. I didn't realize that I also had a few issues with the 3D as well, until I swapped out my console and it alleviated all the issues.

I found the sound to be quite impressive on the handheld for Blazblue. Of course it's not what your going to find out of the HD audio on the other systems when traveling through an amplifier and powered speakers, but it great for the handheld. Remember that Blazblue pushes the HD consoles to the limits, and even has slowdown at times on those systems, and to see the game come to the portable with only few minor issues, and 3D support is very impressive. For those that don't own an HD system, this is a great way to jump into the world of Blazblue and see what it is all about, and that is the mindset that I reviewed the game. I do own Blazblue on PS3 and I'm playing this version more because I can take it with me on-the-go and the incredible 3D effects. :)

VincentX

#29

VincentX said:

@Slapshot
Weird... Oh well, I haven't had any other issues and I'm gonna be checking out the PSP version to see how I like that one.
Oh and I definitely agree on the coolness of the 3D effect, how it shows the multi-layered backgrounds off. Still, the framerate issues kick it for me.

Omarzuqo

#30

Omarzuqo said:

Damn! When I saw the thumbnail I thought it was a castlevania game for the 3DS. Man, the 3DS really needs some castlevania.

BulbasaurusRex

#31

BulbasaurusRex said:

@5 Same here. I'll consider it later after a price drop.

@14 I'm never going to have many chances to play local multiplayer with my handheld fighters, so online multiplayer is a big deal to me. I've already got SSF4 and DOA:D, so I'm not going to spend $40 on another fighter with much less replay value.

@29 Unless it's worse than normal, which the review doesn't seem to imply, every 3DS game has that "framerate issue" when 3D is on. I don't see what the big deal is about "only" playing with 30 FPS, anyway. Movies are shot with fewer FPS than that.

gojiguy

#33

gojiguy said:

no online was a huge oversight for this game. also the fact that its a PSP port that doesnt use the real arcade sprites... Just sayin' anyone considering this should probably skip... BBCSII:PLUS is coming out for PSVita if u really need a portable BB fix... If not, DOA:D, SFIV, soon Tekken 3D and lets hope for TvC3D and KoF3D!

CaPPa

#36

CaPPa said:

I already own SSFIV and the excellent DOA; so I don't really need another portable fighter right now. Maybe I'll pick it up later if it's on sale.

@gojiguy
If they released a TvsC3D then I'd instantly change my mind about not needing another fighting game for my 3DS...

R-L-A-George

#37

R-L-A-George said:

@GojiGuy Seriously, most of us own it and enjoy it on 3DS. I doubt it would be out for Vita. I'd love TvsC on 3DS along with MvsC and SC. _

Vinsanity

#40

Vinsanity said:

IGN's review, which was done pretty much back-to-back with the PSP release of the title, pointed out that there's some nasty framerate/slowdown going on here. Particularly during multiplayer matches. Which is unfortunate. I mean, there's no way I'll play it - or anything else - on the PSP anymore. But it's just a shame that, apparently, this thing just ain't quite gellin' with contemporary handhelds. I'll have to try to check it out for 3DS before purchasing — good thing I have a Gamefly account ;)

@MickeyMac: Here's hoping the Vita version can nail it.

BulbasaurusRex

#41

BulbasaurusRex said:

IGN's review is the only one of the four reviews so far on GameRankings that compains about slowdown. I don't know what happened there, but I doubt the final product actually has the slowdown about which IGN complained.

Azikira

#42

Azikira said:

@BulbasaurusRex: The game DOES slow down occassionally, but only when a lot of particle effects are happening at once (Like Taokaka's "I'mma beat the crap out of you" move) But its so miniscule you it barely detracts from the game. Its like dropping from 60 Frames per second to like 40. XD

GARF13LD

#43

GARF13LD said:

For anyone who lives in the UK gamestation have the release date down as September 1st, so I pre-ordered it along with 8 other games.

motang

#44

motang said:

Just placed an order for this from Amazon, I wanted to buy it once my friend did and I played it. It feels very much like Guilty Gear in the palm of your hands.

misswliu81

#46

misswliu81 said:

i played continuum shift on the X box 360 in HMV a few times with the arcade stick and i really enjoyed it. it is, as @motang put it, very much like guilty gear, but that's because both that game and blazblue are developed by the same company.

so if you're looking for a streetfighter, tekken type of fighting game, you may want to stay put and wait for tekken 3D prime edition instead.

but for me personally, blazblue is very cool and fun to play.

RinCartwright

#47

RinCartwright said:

Platinum the Trinity FTW!
The only thing bad about this game is that (on the 3ds version only) you can't delete the save file. This doesn't matter for me, though. I bought it new!

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