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BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II (Nintendo 3DS) Review

Review for BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

There are so many different versions of BlazBlue these days that it’s getting a little difficult to keep track of each one. BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II for 3DS is a port of the arcade and HD console version of the 2D anime fighter. With another revision having recently come out for consoles and PS Vita, does the 3DS version offer enough to warrant purchasing it?

Arc System Works’ BlazBlue fighting series has been a huge success ever since releasing in arcades in 2008, and rightly so. This is a franchise that takes traditional 2D fighters to a whole new level with its deep combat system, wealth of game modes and array of incredibly unique characters. In an attempt to further expand the user base of the series, Arc System Works decided to port over what was, at the time, the most up-to-date version of the second BlazBlue game. BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II contains all of the DLC characters and their stories released to the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, as well as balance tweaks and the brand new Abyss mode.

One of the most appealing aspects of the BlazBlue series has been its complex plotlines. For those unfamiliar with the series, forget what you know about the so-called stories in other fighters; this is no Street Fighter with simple opening and ending pictures and bits of text at the end. BlazBlue has a very in-depth and deep Story mode, and this game carries on only a few days where the original left off. A recap of Calamity Trigger’s events brings players up to speed, letting them dive right on in. Every single character has an individual story arc, complete with impressive full English and, should you so wish to use it, Japanese voice acting, with 2D character portraits and a range of animations portraying events in-between battles, in what are actually pretty lengthy episodes. Characters speak different lines mid-battle depending on who they are fighting, and anime action-packed cut-scenes play out at certain pivotal moments in each chapter, drawing players in, and further pointing to the creative and visual effort that has gone into the game’s tale. As each character’s storylines are completed, the vast plot comes together and extra chapters can be unlocked, in a chronicle that quite literally does have everything and will last a good chunk of time.

Screenshot for BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Speaking of having everything, whilst not the biggest selection of combatants ever seen, the 18 that are there for picking quite literally come from every corner of the imagination. A badass with spiky hair and huge blade, a sexy large-bosomed woman, a cyborg samurai, a blob-like creature with a mask, a young upper-class tea-sipping vampire, a hyperactive squirrel girl...This diverse cast of personalities each has a distinctive move set that ensures every single one plays differently from another -- something that is much more appreciated than the clones seen in other games of this ilk. Due to the range on offer, players will quickly find their favourites.

Whilst there are six difficulty options ranging from ‘Beginner’ to ‘Hell’ to appease all levels of players, the most satisfaction comes in mastering the battle system and annihilating opponents on tougher difficulties. Continuum Shift II has an incredible amount of depth to its combat, and it is by no means easy to conquer. Thankfully, a terrific Tutorial mode not only details the basics in how to play, but also offers in-depth strategies on dealing with opposing attacks, as well as teaching advanced techniques and how best to utilise each character if you wish to master them. Each lesson is spoken in full English by Rachel the Vampire, who often throws in her own humour to save things from getting too boring.

Screenshot for BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Rather than simple punch and kicks, the four face buttons by default produce various individual moves unique to each character, with directional input and simultaneous presses delivering further advanced techniques. Fighters can unleash insane special attacks once their ‘Heat Gauge’ has filled up, and let loose incredible match-winning moves in ‘Astral Heats.’ Once certain conditions are met in-game, an Astral Heat can be activated, and a short cut-scene, some with brief animated images, will play out as the character discharges a devastating finisher to secure victory. They are flashy, over-the-top, visually impressive, and oh-so-satisfying!

Unfortunately, what lets the game down is that movement can only be done with the tiny and uncomfortable D-pad. Whilst some will manage with it, and there is an option in the settings to help diagonal commands register, due to the nature of the game there is a lot of movement on the D-pad to pull off the huge range of attacks available, and this can be extremely taxing on thumbs and hands. More time with the game means players will learn to adapt and deal with it, but it almost feels like a crime that the option to use the Circle Pad is non-existent. This is especially more confusing given that all the other buttons are freely customisable, with the up and down inputs of the Circle Pad even available for commands. It would have made sense to have the ability to switch control between the D-pad and Circle Pad, especially as other fighters on 3DS, like Dead or Alive Dimensions, have proven that Circle Pad control can be incredibly smooth and comfortable for this genre.

Screenshot for BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Continuum Shift II is by no means short of content. Apart from the brilliant Story mode that players will spend a lot of time in, there is the standard Arcade and Score Attack, as well as some more unique options. These include Challenge, where the player is tasked with performing specific moves and combos; Legion 1.5, which places players on a map, building a party of fighters and raising their statistics as they conquer each grid; and Abyss, which was, at the time, a mode exclusive to the portable versions of Continuum Shift II, tasking players to battle through an endless stream of fighters and bosses as they work their way to the depths of the chasm, levelling up their character as they go. Unfortunately, there is no way to save and resume from the depth level you are at in Abyss mode, so it will take many tries to complete. Tons of unlockable content ranges from artwork and movies to costume colour alterations and powerful ‘Unlimited’ versions of fighters.

A core part of BlazBlue is its intense online multiplayer. In an almost shocking move, though, there is no online play of any sort in the 3DS’ Continuum Shift II. Whilst there is local multiplayer, the chances of finding someone else with the game are slim, so it comes as a great disappointment that players cannot engage in frantic fights with others over an online network, or even receive extras through SpotPass. Anyone after some online fighting action with their mates on 3DS would have to look at Dead or Alive Dimensions or Super Street Fighter IV. Owners of any of the console BlazBlue games looking for a faithful portable rendition may want to think about purchasing the PS Vita’s BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend instead, since there hasn’t been any indication the 3DS will be receiving this enhanced edition. If online isn’t a priority, though, and a quality 2D fighter with an engaging combat system that is packed to the brim with content is exactly what you are after for 3DS right now, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II is highly recommended.

Screenshot for BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II on Nintendo 3DS- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

So much depth in the combat system provides a rewarding fighting experience for those that take the time to master it, and the styles of each character means no one person is the same. The poor D-pad and lack of Circle Pad control lets it down, unfortunately.

Graphics

Whilst obviously downgraded from its HD brothers, what’s on display is some very sharp and vibrant 2D graphics. Not the most amazing use of stereoscopic 3D, but background layers stand out with it turned on, and incredible animated character sprites bring out their personalities.

Sound

A terrific soundtrack and very good full voiceovers make for some amusing dialogue. Again, though, the conversion to 3DS means the quality doesn’t come out quite as good, and some fiddling in the game’s volume settings is needed to hear character speech in story segments.

Value

A wealth of modes, lengthy in-depth stories and lots to unlock mean this can last potentially as long as you want it to. No online mode is a tragedy, however.

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Good - Bronze Award

About this score
Rated 7 out of 10

For those looking for the ultimate BlazBlue experience, it would be wise to turn towards the latest HD edition available for PS3, Xbox 360 and PS Vita, which features the best audio and visuals, full online multiplayer, more comfortable controls and extra content. That said, if you want what is probably the best 2D fighting experience available on 3DS and don’t mind the lack of online play, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II is the perfect choice.

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11.04.2012

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Developer

Arc System Works

Publisher

Arc System

Genre

Fighting

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (2 Votes)

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Staff Member

Great review, Az! The game certainly does sound appealing with its extremely varied character movesets, over-the-top style and the story mode. Obviously Japanese voice acting is always a plus too. Smilie Lots of unlockables and modes other than the generic Arcade/Survival stuff would also help a lot in keeping me motivated to play the game, as I usually lose interest in single-player in fighting games after a while. That's also why Soul Calibur II kept me motivated with its Weapon Master mode.

The latest HD edition sounds like it's the perfect game to try the series, so I'm going to go for that one on the PS3. Smilie

( Edited 14.06.2013 11:02 by Guest )

 
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

This is definitely right up your alley, SirLink. Glad reviewing this one helped you to buy the superior Extend version. I'd been after the BlazBlue series for a long time now, and reviewing this made me realise what a quality title it is. Once I see it for a more appealing price, I'll grab it.

I believe Legion mode was sort of merged into Abyss mode in Extend, from what I've gathered, anyway. Not sure how much it changes, but would be interesting to see.

I thought it would be worth mentioning there is JP VA, but personally, I'd recommend people to try English as well because the dialogue is actually of a very good standard, and you'd be missing out on some good/funny conversations and the mid-battle lines when fighting specific opponents. Well worth trying out both, anyway.

This 3DS version could easily have scored an 8 or even 9 had it had online, Circle Pad support and perhaps the ability for DLC for additions added to Extend. The D-pad isn't the game's fault, though - if Nintendo had simply put a SNES/Wii Classic Controller D-pad on the system, it wouldn't have been an issue. As it is, it's too small to function well enough for this type of game. This one is also always going to be looked down upon because of the superior versions available elsewhere, too. For fans of original 2D fighters and anime characters, though, I'd say it's the best fighter on 3DS. Just be careful if you plan to pick this up pre-owned, as you cannot erase game data, just like in RE Mercenaries 3D (a bad call).

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
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Staff Member

Heh, alright, I'll give the English VA a shot as well. Smilie

What would an appealing price be for you? I got my copy for 15 pounds (+3.50 shipping) on ebay.uk, which is pretty good for a game that's only 2 months old. Shortly after I bought it, the seller changed the cover to the Limited Edition, added those words to the description and raised the price by 3 pounds. He likely realized that his copies were LEs while dispatching my copy, so apparently I got lucky again and unknowingly bought the Limited Edition at a good price.

Just saying, because some online matches against you would be pretty awesome. Smilie

 
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Well I had a look the other day and remember a price of £15, so I may have been looking at the same one (edit: it might have been an offer on Zavvi or something, come to think of it). I don't think I bothered with it at that moment because of all the other games I've got going on, but like you say, I can't see it at that price now, which is a shame. If I could get the LE for £15 that would be brilliant. I'll keep checking on it, anyway. Online would definitely be cool, even though I think I'd suck. I love fighting games, but I can never truly master them.

( Edited 12.04.2012 18:32 by Azuardo )

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
Follow me on: Twitter | YouTube | Backloggery
Staff Member

Well, just so you know, this was the one I bought. Would be about 21 pounds with shipping now, which is still pretty good for the LE. Your call, anyway.

I'm not as good at fighting games as I'd like to be either. It seems I have a particular weakness in each fighting game, like in SCII I was never good at blocking/countering attacks and in SSFIV3D I had a ton of trouble performing decent combos. Wonder what it'll be in BlazBlue...Smilie

 
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

There's some slightly cheaper ones for the LE at around £18-£19, but I may see if I can get it a bit cheaper in the end. Not sure how much time I'd have atm to play it anyway, since I think a busy next couple of months are in store. But I'm sure I'll bag it eventually.

Speaking of that, though, are there any others on C3 who have BlazBlue on PS3? I know SuperLink does, actually, so I'm thinking if we could get a group of us together for an event, that would definitely be good and might entice me to pick it up sooner.

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
Follow me on: Twitter | YouTube | Backloggery

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