BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Review

In the world of fighting games, BlazBlue sits firmly between the insanity of the Versus series and the strict strategy of Street Fighter, just like its spiritual predecessor, Guilty Gear. It allows for crazy, multi-hit combos, but still allows a deeper level of strategy where spacing, player position, and setups can be used. It’s a series that is still young, but has already carved its place in the genre.

That said, BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger was unbalanced with its characters and didn’t communicate its core mechanics well to the player. A lot of gamers felt left out in the cold when it came to the first game, with only the hardcore braving the world of BlazBlue. Arc System Works have heard these complaints and have responded with a vastly cleaned up sequel, Continuum Shift.

To say BlazBlue: Continuum Shift is BlazBlue 1.5 is a disservice to what Arc System Works has done. The game is a full-fledged sequel, offering a vastly improved fighting system, new modes, and new additions to the roster. Three new fighters have joined the ranks: the chain-slinging Hazama, the angelic Tsubaki, and MU-12, another robot/deity akin to Lambda. Each new character is well crafted for both seasoned veterans and beginners. A fourth character is to be added via DLC: the perky Makoto.


Among the changes, the most drastic have been to the fighting system. Barrier Bursts, moves that break opponents’ combos, now use icons instead of your Barrier Gauge. Using a Burst consumes an icon, of which you have two per match. Your Barrier Gauge is still present, but is used during Barrier Guards, a special guard that pushes your opponent back while you guard. Blocking uses Block Counters now, so you can no longer stay on the defense and constant back-dashing and fleeing from your opponent will inflict a Negative Effect where you take increased damage. The fighting itself has also been tightened up and slowed down. In Calamity Trigger, you could constantly air recover and dash around the arena. Characters were rarely on the ground, making a lot of ground attacks such as Ragna’s "Not Over Yet" and Tager’s "Gadget Finger" null. Now, recovering has been scaled back and being hit by a combo means you have to skillfully escape or Barrier Burst, instead of just hitting two attack buttons and back dashing out to escape. It all culminates in a system that feels much more controlled and easier to manage. Characters are not constantly bursting or recovering, so you can build combos and actually think during a match.

If all of that sounds too complicated or makes you feel that BlazBlue is out of your league, the game’s new Beginner’s Mode and tutorials are made for you. Beginner’s Mode simplifies the controls to normal attacks, heavy attacks, and Drive attacks. Button inputs are also simplified so the true beginner can button mash or learn the mechanics without being beaten down. Furthering the low entry bar, the tutorials are an excellently crafted series of lessons that introduce the mechanics of both BlazBlue and 2D fighting games in general. If you are new to fighting games, this is for you. It even features a full strategy section for every character, so learning your favorite is easier than ever.


The feature set doesn’t stop there. Your standard Arcade, Score Attack, and Versus Modes are all here. Joining them are Legion Mode, a map-based strategy mode where you are tasked with conquering nodes and building your mini army, Challenge Mode, where you can practice and learn special attacks and combos for the characters, and a brand new Story Mode, which continues the story from Calamity Trigger. Story Mode is most notable as it has been cleaned up considerably, no longer requiring you to lose to certain matches or finish them with Distortion Drive attacks to open different paths. It’s based more on the choices you make during the story now, making it easier to complete an arc.

Calamity Trigger‘s near-flawless net code makes a return in Continuum Shift, and is better than ever. I never experience any lag in any of my online matches and the matchmaking is smooth and quick. The game even allows you to play through the Arcade Mode or Training Mode while you wait for a match, so no waiting around staring at a "Now Searching" screen if you don’t want to.

Continuum Shift also spruces up the already beautiful 2D sprites and backgrounds, along with the entire game’s production values. New orchestral scores join J-pop synth tunes and the animations have been improved greatly. It’s much more than a new coat of paint.

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift is an excellent fighter for both fighting amateurs and steeled veterans. The numerous tutorials, challenges, and inclusion of the Beginner’s Mode will help newcomers, while the deep fighting system will keep fighting fans busy.

5 out of 5


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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