BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Portable Review
Developer: Arc System Works / Publisher: Aksys Games / ESRB: Teen (Animated Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Violence) / Played on: PSP / Price: $19.99
Flashy combos, rocking music, and beautiful visuals are what you’ll find in BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Portable, the latest fighting game to get ported to Sony’s PSP. Bringing all of the characters and game modes from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions to the handheld, as well as a heaping helping of replay value makes BlazBlue Portable a fantastic port of a one-of-a-kind fighting game, only hindered by some shoddy control and interminable load times.
The original game is known by its niche crowd of fans for its terrific 2D visuals, and this PSP port ably recreates that same style on the handheld system. While there are inevitably some points that are lacking in terms of graphical comparison like the fighters looking more pixelated than on the consoles, the game still looks wonderful, with fast and hectic fights, and animated backgrounds. Character portraits are used during longer talking sections look just as good as their in-game renditions. All of the characters are highly detailed and vibrantly colored, from Ragna’s spiky silver hair and red jacket to Jin’s chilly ice-based moves. Unlockable concept art and character pictures show off this detail in fine fashion. A particularly humorous help section features a distinctly different art style that is still at the same standard as the core game. Overall BlazBlue Portable looks and feels like its big-brother console and arcade version.
BlazBlue Portable is a 2D fighting game from the same people that brought us the Guilty Gear fighting series and you’ll feel right at home with BlazBlue Portable. While the game may seem limited at first with its small selection of characters (only twelve), it quickly becomes apparent that each character has a lot of depth. For example, Carl uses a life-size doll to help him out in fights, wielding this avatar to facilitate attacks, while the character Litchi uses a huge staff to perform moves, oftentimes leaving the staff in the ground and swinging and jumping on it in order to pummel enemies. This complexity between characters, however, also creates a steep learning curve for anyone not familiar with this style of combat game, and may turn off newcomers altogether.
Each character, from the main protagonist Ragna all the way down to the lovable cat-human hybrid Tao, has some link with each other character, and these relationships are fleshed out across the game’s many play modes. The standard arcade mode has you squaring off against opponents one at a time and a score attack mode is also available to test out your longevity in the ring. Legion mode plays like a survival mode where defeated characters join your ranks to take on the rest of the opponents in a battle for treasure and glory. The game’s story mode is where much of the plot for the game is driven as you take each character down a branching storyline to the end. A wireless ad-hoc multiplayer mode rounds out the multitude of game types available in BlazBlue Portable. On top of all of this, each fight in each mode earns you pd, a form of currency used to purchase new character colors, extra art, move sets, expanded story modes, and helpful training videos. Commit the time and effort and you’ll be rewarded for everything you do, which adds a significant amount of replay value to the package.
The voice acting in BlazBlue Portable is simply some of the best I’ve heard in any game on the PSP. Characters deliver their lines with genuine emotion The sound of battle is up to par with bone-crunching throws and sword slashes heard throughout any given fight. Taking a sound cue from the Guilty Gear series is the hard rock battle music that accompanies each melee. The pieces fit each fight well and the blazing tunes accent the neo-punk art style beautifully. Some points are mysteriously missing sound altogether, specifically during the narration of plot in story mode; aside from this BlazBlue Portable sounds great.
Controls are a little loose and sometimes don’t perform the way you want. It is difficult to jump forward during fights, which can lead to frustrating moments in the heat of battle. Some of the moves and combos, especially, are too difficult to execute, even with an in-game input command list. You can, however, assign special moves and even super moves to the control stick and this helps to alleviate some of the tension in the more difficult combinations. Whether the control issues are inherent due to the small size of the D-pad, or a result of limp implementation from the developers, the overall game experience is significantly undermined when you can’t get the combatants to perform exactly how you want, when you need.
BlazBlue Portable for the PSP is great port of a relatively new fighting game. Keeping the original game’s art style, characters, and gameplay modes intact is quite a feat and makes this a fine example of how an Xbox 360/PS3-to-PSP translation should be done. Aside from some sketchy controls and god-awful load times, BlazBlue Portable is a solid game. Anyone looking for a 2D fighter to take with them on the go should look no further than BlazBlue Portable, and with its hours of replay value you’re sure to be entertained for weeks to come.