BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Review

I have played a lot of fighters in my day. Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken… you name ’em, I’ve most likely played ’em. However, there was one franchise that slipped my grasp — only one that I had never played: Guilty Gear.

I don’t know how or why, but Guilty Gear and I never crossed paths. I somehow missed every fighter Aksys had to offer. It never stood out to me as a series that, as a fighting game fan, I had to play no matter what.

If Guilty Gear is anywhere near as good as Aksys’ latest fighter, BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, then I’ll have to rethink my stance. BlazBlue took me by surprise, to say the least. I had a lot of friends who told me that I should play BlazBlue, that I would absolutely love it, and so I agreed to pick it up. Boy, were they right.

BlazBlue pretty much does everything right. Controls, music, voiceovers, graphics, story, everything is wonderfully done. I could play BlazBlue for hours on end without wanting to stop, which is something modern games have not been able to do lately. Not since Street Fighter II have I played a fighter with the complete package, but BlazBlue is it.

The controls take me back to the NeoGeo days: a four-button system, labeled A, B, C, and D, varying in power from A to D. Special moves are performed mostly in the standard “Hadouken” and “Shoryuken” motions, though some characters seem more like SNK characters with “down, down, down and attack” methods. Super move commands should be familiar to most fighting game aficionados as well. When I first picked up the controller, I felt as if I had been playing this game for years, it was so familiar. The only thing I needed to do was check each fighter’s command list and see how he or she specifically controlled. That familiarity right at the beginning is quite a feat in the gaming world, especially for those who had never experienced the past works before.

BlazBlue character select screen

Graphically, the game is stunning. I could say that it’s beautiful, but that wouldn’t be doing the game justice. The 2D animations in this game give some 3D games a run for their money. Each character has sharp animations for every action, be it standing, attacking, walking, etc. The special and super attack animations, like the Marvel vs Capcom and King of Fighters games before it, are flashy, eye-catching, and downright awe-inspiring. There were a couple of times my jaw dropped after performing a super move, just because it looked fantastic. If you like your games to play great and look great, BlazBlue will not disappoint.

If you’re into heavy metal, then BlazBlue‘s soundtrack is made just for you. Heavy guitar, pipe organ, some vocals, and heavy drum beats all roll into one rockin’ experience. It certainly helps the environment in a fighting game when the soundtrack makes you want to smash heads. The voice over is masterfully done as well, though I think Aksys may have gone a bit overboard as far as speech during a match is concerned. As much as I loved using Ragna, I had to stop and pick someone else after hearing “Outta my way!” over and over and over again. Of course, the new character I picked soon perturbed me, and the cycle repeated itself again. Despite that, the voices are perfect in the Story Mode, where every line (dialog or description) is voiced by the characater whose story you chose. I’m a huge fan of putting subtitles in games anyhow (yes, I subtitled Mass Effect and MGS4, and I plan to subtitle Arkham Asylum, so sue me!), so adding a narration to the story mode was a huge plus for me. Just like your eyes, your ears will have plenty of goodness to feed on while playing BlazBlue, which only adds to the awesomeness.

The thing I love most about BlazBlue is the balance between characters. Every character has definitive advantages and weaknesses over every other character. There’s no elite character. Of course, some fans will argue that their guy is elite, but my time online proved that I could win with anyone on the roster just as much as I’d lose with everyone. The character stereotypes are there: main character (and great for beginners) Ragna the BloodEdge, big bruiser Iron Tager, speedster Taokaka, etc. Balance is a huge thing in fighting games, and if it works, the game’s longevity increases dramatically. Knowing this, I expect BlazBlue to be around for quite a while.

BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger is a spectacular 2D fighter that takes me back to my SFII-playing youth. If you’re into fighters, or if you’re into games that do what they do well, then make sure you play BlazBlue. You will not be disappointed.


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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