With its familiar characters and Capcom magic, Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 has been getting most of the attention for the must have day one purchase to compliment your new Vita; sadly many will overlook ARC System Works recent update of BlazBlue, which will be a massive shame as this is near the most technical and rewarding beat-em-up I have ever played.
There are a few new additions to the Extend version, though I am not sure they will satisfy even the most hardcore of fans who may of picked up DLC from the home console versions. With only a couple of extra characters and their stories added, the largest addition is a system link between the PS3 version and Vita version which allows to quick swap your progression, allowing you to take then fight on the road. However, sadly there is no console cross play.
Where a lot of fighters seem to be scaling down on the amount of bars and gauges and simplifying things, BlazBlue throws all sorts at you, making newcomers feel lost with all of the different gauges to keep track of. Anyone new to the BlazBlue series would be well off to go through the training and tutorials, not only are they in depth but also really well made, it also comes in handy showing you the type of humour to expect through the rest of the game. To keep the game balanced and appeal to a wider range of gamers there are a couple of control options to choose from, for hardcore fighting fans you have the technical method, granting full access to all of the moves and counters. Newcomers can try out the Stylish mode, which simplifies specials and moves to one button pushes, plus utilizing the back touch pad for the more intricate button combos. Basic movement of you character can be done via either the d-pad or left stick and both are pretty responsive, however there were times when I struggled to get a decent double tap run when using the d-pad; neither will ever replace the multi-button joystick set-up but they do a decent enough job.
The characters on offer reflect the slightly strange humour of the game, but each one is a deadly fighter with an immense wealth of moves available to use and master, with the likes of main protagonist Ragna the Bloodedge; the AI Noel Vermillion and her double pistols; the very snobby upperclass Rachel Alucard and the strange fighters, such as squirrel girl Makoto Nanaya and the cat in a coat, Taokaka. Each character has been superbly animated and each with their own personalities that you come across during the many modes, there is a character here for everyone.
Just like previous versions, BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend has a serious amount of modes on offer, each offering a variety of challenges and interesting ways of making the humble 2D fighter a little more fresh and relevant. The single player modes are a mix of the usual Arcade and Versus modes plus some more in depth modes like Story mode that allows you to experience the full BlazBlue story with plenty of videos and cutscenes. The Abyss mode returns with your selected character tasked with fighting their way to the very bottom, earning points along the way to purchase skill boosters to increase your chances of winning the deeper fights. New to the series is the Unlimited Mars mode, a score attack that pits you against some seriously hardcore fighters, let’s just say it was brutal and to never play that mode again.
A pleasant surprise are the online functions, with ADHOC being supported, as well as full online battles via WiFi or 3G! Sadly, there is no decent Vodafone signal in my area but trying a game outside with a couple of signal bars managed to offer a decent experience, but for proper games, unless you have a full signal, stick to WiFi.
To top off this mode heavy game you also have a Replay Gallery Mode where you can watch and upload your favourite fights and a pretty in depth Gallery mode, allowing you to listen to all of the music and voice acting, view many images and also rewatch the great looking anime videos that are on the game.
Graphically the game is superb, hosting plenty of great looking animated characters, perfectly filling in the Vita’s widescreen with each backdrop offering an amazing level of detail, that at times can distract as they look so good, adding an interesting contrast of depth against the 2D anime characters.
If you skipped out on any of the previous games this is a great time to grab this often forgotten title, with solid controls, a varied roster and more modes than any other fighter I can think of, BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend is a worthy addition to your Vita’s collection.
Rating: ExcellentReview Policy(version tested: PS Vita)
You can order your copy of BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend for PS Vita here.