Tag Archives: blazblue

FGC #567 BlazBlue: Centralfiction

This post originally appeared about two years ago on a forum post that… apparently no longer exists. Whoops! In the interest of my beloved words reaching as many people as possible, please enjoy this nonsense with the excuse that I am now playing the Switch version of BlazBlue: Centralfiction. Oh, and be aware there are spoilers for the entire franchise here, and it is super GIF heavy. I probably should have led with that…

Time to Blaze itWhat you have to understand is that BlazBlue could be so, so simple. At first glance, it’s a pretty straightforward story: 100 years in “our” future, but 100 years before the events of the game, mankind goes too far, and accidentally releases magic (good), and the Black Beast (bad) on the universe. The Black Beast nearly destroys the world, but six brave heroes rise up and seal away the ancient evil. Now, in the present (of the game), a terrorist in a red coat is running around wrecking stuff, and it is assumed he is trying to revive the ancient evil. Naturally, he’s misunderstood, and the real bad guy is hiding in plain sight within the current ruling government, so the wheel of fate is turning, action!

And were this a simple, traditional fighting game universe, that would be it. There would be a “new” gang of heroes, a few would have obvious or subtle ties to the previous legends, throw in a wannabe ninja or two, and you’d have a pretty straightforward fighting game universe. Everybody battles at first, they eventually join up, and the inevitable “return of the Black Beast” is defeated by friendship and mashing the jab button. It could work! It could work well! Perhaps in that universe, all would be joyful, and I wouldn’t be getting ready to explain how the pretty sorcerer lady had sex with a goddamn cat. Maybe that universe would be better for all of us…

This isn't realActually, speaking of universes, BlazBlue does something interesting with its overall plot. Were you around for the Mortal Kombat debates of the 90’s? I’m not talking about the silly disputes over whether Mortal Kombat was too violent for young eyeballs; no, I’m talking about the important arguments about things that mattered. I’m talking about the debates over which Mortal Kombat endings were canon. Did Scorpion really kill Sub-Zero? Did Kano really kill Sheeva, or did she kill him (and did Sonya watch)? Yes, we know Liu Kang won a tournament or two from that opening roll, but we want to know some details! Johnny Cage: Goro-slayer or conceited movie star? This is important to my fanfic, dammit!

BlazBlue does its best to sidestep all of that, and introduces some canon multiversal theory to the fighting game genre. All endings are valid. Yes, Ragna saved one world, and Arakune devoured everyone and everything in another world. Every single BlazBlue game has multiple endings for each of its characters, and every ending is equally canon, because the forces of good and evil at the highest levels are distinctly watching every universe to see the potential best outcome. And it’s a very distinct plot point in practically all of the games! All endings are canon, so, yes, that goofy finale where Dan wins the tournament and Zangief becomes a robot totally happened.

Unfortunately, it seems like the writers wanted to justify this conceit, and… things got complicated.

This story has no beginning and no end. It is a tale of souls and swords that, unfortunately, gets a little confused along the way. I guess we’ll start with the kids…

WW #12 Panty Party

Due to the subject matter of our posts this Monday & Friday, some items may be NSFW. Barring some terrible graphics, we’re sorta aiming for PG-13 screenshots here, but, given everyone has a different threshold, anything potentially offensive will be behind the “Read More” links du jour. And this time, we’re hitting the ground running, so just a warning that we’re “too hot for Smash” already…

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Mai Shiranui

FGC #213 BlazBlue: Central Fiction

OuchI’ve spoken before about how I believe that videogames are art, and, in many cases, what’s important about a game is how it makes the player feel. Whether a game makes you happy, sad, or annoyed, we are primal creatures at heart, and will always remember our feelings on a particular game long after we’ve forgotten exactly what Sephiroth was actually trying to do. We are human, and we remember our feelings about anyone and anything long after we’ve forgotten the finer details of the matter that brought us to those feelings. How a videogame makes you feel is important.

That said, BlazBlue: Central Fiction makes me feel… impotent.

BB:CF is the latest, and theoretically final, chapter in the BlazBlue saga that started with BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. If those words make no sense, just be aware that BlazBlue is a fighting game series with a deathly melodramatic storyline that almost puts Kingdom Hearts to shame. Seriously, here’s a portion of the cast of BlazBlue: Central Fiction:

  • Ragna the Bloodedge
  • Ragna, but as a King of Fighters character
  • Ragna’s brother
  • Ragna’s brother, but in armor
  • Ragna’s sister
  • Ragna’s sister, but as a robot
  • Ragna’s sister, but as an obsessive robot
  • Ragna’s sister, but as a stoic robot
  • Ragna’s sister, but as a bad guy
  • Michael Jackson
  • Michael Jackson, but in a rain slicker

UNBEATABLEThrow in Squirrel Girl, a generic gothic lolita vampire, and No-Face, and we’ve got a complete cast of 35 playable characters. And each one of those jerks has a comprehensive backstory, ridiculous powers, and enough dreams to put Kirby to shame. This is clearly the final chapter because the roster has become unwieldy, and it could collapse at any moment if the catgirl accidently beats the muscled arena monster (which one? Who cares). The adage has always been that paying attention to the story in a fighting game is akin to reading erotic friend-fiction for the plot, but there are some people that slurp this nonsense up like delicious udon.

And I, as you likely know, am one of these people.

The BlazBlue plot is complete nonsense tied to a decent fighting game, and that’s all it takes for me. BlazBlue is fun to play! I like the characters, how the controls feel, and the bevy of interesting special moves and “systems” that apply to each character. On a whole, the franchise has always felt like “Street Fighter 2, but a little more complicated”, and, since that “complicated” seems to push the game into a more offensive (as in the opposite of defensive, and not as in “our president elect”) direction, I’ve always been a fan. The fact that my imagination gets to run wild every time I learn a new character and clear arcade mode is just a nice bonus between bouts. Oh, this well-endowed brunette is trying to save a bookworm that turned into a bag of bugs? Well, that’s neat, back to the fight.

And then there’s the actual Story Mode.

SHUTUP!BlazBlue Story Mode… let’s not mince words here, it has always wanted to be a damn visual novel. And that’s terrible. There are a lot of videogame genres that mix well with the visual novel format (JRPGs, TRPGs… uh… instruction manuals?), but the basic essence of a fighting game is adrenaline, and “get ready to sit around and read” does not have anything to do with fighting. I can think of a worse fit for the visual novel format, but BlazBlue, game after game, seems to send more and more words at a pretty basic plot (bad guy wants to resurrect great evil and destroy the world, good guy dislikes this). Yes, there are magical weapons and six legendary heroes and betrayal and sex and sister clones and some manner of ninja running around, but it all adds up to a story that should be 90% show and 10% tell. I know more about puppet master Relius Clover from his super move that traps an opponent in a medieval torture device than from eighteen characters in story mode claiming “Oh, that guy is evil”.

But, despite my protests, I’ve played through almost all of the BlazBlue story modes. Why? Because I’m an idiot Because it’s presented well. BlazBlue might throw a novel’s worth of text at me, but it’s all voice-acted, and I can “enjoy” the story less like reading a book and more like watching a movie. It’s not a very animated movie, but it’s passable, and it’s enough that I’ll at least give it a go some lazy Saturday afternoon. I am kind of curious why Michael Jackson picked up a raincoat, after all.

But Central Fiction makes that experience a lot more difficult to swallow for one simple reason: BlazBlue: Central Fiction does not have an English dub.

OwieIn the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal, and I understand the thinking. There are 35 characters in this game (and that’s not including incidental characters like the two tailed cat or that one nurse character that keeps hanging around), so that requires, give or take, 35 voice actors (or at least a healthy number of voice actors with excellent range). And voice actors gots to get paid, son. And this isn’t just a Zelda situation with dialogue like “running grunts” and “rolling grunts”; no, this franchise always has that damn Story Mode, so some lucky voice actor has to record a movie’s worth of dialogue for the “star” character. So, before we even get going, we’ve got a pile of time and money pumped into a “feature” that, let’s be honest, is nowhere near the main draw of the franchise. I played Street Fighter 2 until my thumbs were raw back in the SNES days, and a lot of the time that was with the game on mute, because damned if I want to hear “sonic boom” over and over again (and for the record, I wasn’t just sitting in silence, I probably had Xena Warrior Princess on in the background). Point is that voice acting for a cast this ungainly is a tremendous expense for the tiniest of payoffs. Oh boy, I can finally know what the red guy is saying to the magical girl… Who cares?

Well, I guess I realized how much I do.

BlazBlue might have a stupidly large cast, but it’s a stupidly large cast I seem to care about. Yeah, I know, no one is more surprised than me. I’ve been enjoying games featuring these characters for eight years (technically, there’s only been four “games”, but each one seems to get an update… so I’ve probably played a BlazBlue game a year for nearly a decade), and, honestly, a big factor in that is probably the voice acting. Since I can understand these characters and their in-battle dialogue, I have a much better grip on how PainfulTaokaka is a bit nuts, or how Hazama is collected in nearly everything he does. In earlier games, I can literally hear how the anti-hero of the piece is conflicted about the damage he’s doing (for a good cause), and how his brother’s vengeance drives the dude… a little batty. Yes, the voice acting is only one piece of these characters, but losing that feature would be like if the next Street Fighter game didn’t include some standard part of its franchise. Imagine a Street Fighter where all the fighters wore burlap sacks instead of signature outfits. Imagine a Street Fighter without special moves, where Ryu could only throw mundane punches. Imagine a Street Fighter without an Arcade Mode (*cough*). It would still be the same game, but it would be undeniable that something was missing, and it would be a lesser experience for it.

And would you sit through a fighting game’s Story Mode where you have to actually read a novel’s length of words? Screw that jazz. I barely have time to proofreed this article.

So, as ridiculous as it sounds, BlazBlue: Central Fiction makes me feel impotent. I know voice acting is expensive. I know it takes time to record that much dialogue, and it would probably delay the game into next year. I know it’s not an essential piece of the BlazBlue experience. I know all of that, but its absence is still felt. And I know there’s nothing I can do to “get it back”, because what am I going to do? Look away!Boycott the series until the English Dub returns? Bah! I still want to play the game, I just want it to be… better? Complete? In the end, I can’t do a thing, and what I desire is likely gone forever to placate a better bottom line.

I’m playing a macho, testosterone fueled fighting game, and I feel powerless.

And that’s what I’m going to remember.

FGC #213 BlazBlue: Central Fiction

  • System: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, and arcade. Yes, arcade. There’s only one left, so we’re not using the plural anymore.
  • Number of players: Two players just whaling on each other until language means nothing.
  • Favorite Character: Kokonoe Mercury is a pink, half-catgirl (however that works) science nerd that builds giant robots and is one of the few (only?) “smart” good guys that is capable of working effectively Good kittybehind the scenes and on the battlefield. She was practically made with BlazBlue’s giant nerd audience in mind, and, yes, I’m a sucker for that kind of thing. Also, we share a birthday, so again, total sucker.
  • Progress? Mai Natsume, the paid-DLC character of BlazBlue: Central Fiction, is actually trans, and that seems to be treated with as much respect as anything else in this series. That’s good! There’s also Amane Nishiki, an effeminately dressed dancing man who is obsessed with cute, young boys, and has a finishing move that transforms his opponent into a child form before a curtain literally (and ominously) closes. That seems… wrong.
  • Did you know? Jubei, the legendary cat swordsman, is still not a playable character after having been involved in the plot from the absolute beginning. If you need any confirmation that there’s another version on the way, well, there you go.
  • Would I play again: Probably! Unless an upgraded revision is released, then I’ll ignore this one forever, just like every other previous BlazBlue. Sorry, old fighting games!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Death Smiles! Wow, it’s Aksys Anime Week all of a sudden. I’m not okay with that! But whatever! Please look forward to lolis!

AHHHH

You Can (Not) Watch Anime

See, there's this crab... oh nevermindTo be frank, this site started as a depository for my Kingdom Hearts FAQ posts, and the Fustian Game Challenge was merely an excuse to generate new content. Now, fifty FGC posts later, I’ve found I really enjoy the parameters of the FGC, as it encourages me to replay any number of games I could have likely ignored for the rest of my life. Super Mario Land is up next, and, spoilers, I really enjoyed replaying this game that I likely would not have touched otherwise. Super Mario Land is fun, but there are literally ten other Mario games I can name that I’d be more likely to play before it, never mind the glut of excellent NES platformers that at least have color, and then never mind the last thirty years of video games that have been released in the median. But, hey, the robot said to play the game, so I did, and I enjoyed it, and that’s about how this whole project has been going. From the beginning, I always knew there would be a point where I’d stall out and give up… like most every “hobby” project I’ve ever started… but the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were another fifty posts. Maybe even a whole 52.

But, as I was saying, the FGC was just one of many ideas I had for what to write about for this site, and second runner up was basically the same concept, except with anime. Same basic rules: with streaming and other such services nowadays, it’s easier than ever to cue up a random show and view a random episode. So, watch an episode of any given series (whether I’d seen the series before or not was irrelevant), digest what I’d seen, and then write about it. Pretty straightforward.

Now I realize that, had I gone with that concept, I would currently be insane.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I like anime. If I think about it, I’ve always like anime, starting back before I even knew my own last name but knew the name of the defender of the universe, a mighty robot, loved by good, and feared by evil. Anime, though, is like any other entertainment medium: there’s about one good show every couple years, and the rest is a pile of nonsense either pandering to the lowest common denominator or mindlessly imitating whatever was popular last year. Sometimes both! So, as a result of there being a lot of trashy anime, I watch a lot of trashy anime. It’s not a matter of “wanting” to watch any anime that is 90% fan-service, it’s just a matter of the television is right there, it’s easy to try out any given weird show, and then watch five hours of it while grinding out EXP on the 3DS. I can do two things at once!

So, in memory of the fact that this blog could have been dedicated entirely to anime, I’m going to write a skosh about a few random animes I’ve watched over the last few… years? Seems like it’s been a while.

Infinite Stratos

This is the most recent thing I’ve watched, so it’s getting covered first. Also, it might be the most anime-anime I’ve ever seen. Boy is the chosen one, and he’s the only XY on Earth that can pilot (kinda) giant robots. So he’s sent to an all-girls school where he’s relentlessly pursued by the entire student body, particularly six main girls that cover the standard range of harem archetypes.
It’s pretty terrible.

Bunny ears, maid costume, yep.My main takeaway from the show is that, while I’m not usually one to think “oh man, I could do this so much better” about professionals who have likely been in their industry for years, I could probably write an entire season of harem anime in about a week. Episode one: introduce boy and main girl and general conflict. Following ten episodes: introduce a new girl and her new quirks once per episode, and have it continue into the next episode as their issues are resolved by Boy just in time for the next girl to arrive. Obviously, have each new girl bounce her “quirky” personality off of Boy and each of the established girls. As of episode eleven (well, the finale episode ten), introduce a major threat that you can claim was foreshadowed the whole time, threaten Boy or Main Girl, and then the whole gang pulls together to eliminate Threat. Episode Thirteen: Everyone goes to the beach!

Oh, and when I said each of the girls would have different quirky personalities? If rushed for time, just replace that with different bra sizes. No one will notice.

Good Luck Girl

I always find it hard to say this, but I don’t understand humor. I realize this is like trying to dissect a beloved pet to understand why “petting” is so soothing, but any time I try to analyze why I find X funnier than Y (or, more likely, I try to figure out why the likes of Everybody Loves Raymond or Monkey like bananaThe Big Bang Theory are apparently the most beloved comedies of the century while, say, early Community was treated like a dissected beloved pet), I come up empty. I find some things funny, I find other “funny” things atrocious, and I think I’ll live longer if I just don’t think about it too hard. This is likely why I’ve taken to writing about video games, because there have been six deliberately funny video games in the last three decades.

Good Luck Girl is funny. It makes me laugh. I have no idea why this anime, over the many others I’ve watched, is that much better at being a comedy, but there it is. I do have to admit, the central concept of the show, that one girl has nothing but good luck, while her rival has nothing but bad luck, is pretty much the same concept as, say, every Roadrunner short ever, but modern Looney Tunes can’t seem to make me crack a smile, why does Good Luck Girl succeed?

From an objective standpoint, it’s even basically boilerplate anime, complete with the two female leads constantly squabbling over breast size (and every random guest star commenting on their physical differences). There’s a “bath episode” to take the place of the traditional “beach episode”, and there’s even a “serious” subplot about finding romance that does absolutely nothing new, original, or even interesting.
But I think I laughed out loud at least once during every episode so… good job?

Maken-Ki: Battling Venus

See Infinite Stratos.

RAWRLove Bullet Yurikuma Arashi

And this is maybe my favorite thing I’ve seen all year in any medium.

By all accounts, this should be terrible, as it’s an examination of society’s treatment of / individual’s own acceptance and reactions to homosexuality… coming from a culture that is still very much in the Dharma & Greg stage of homosexual acceptance. But Love Bullet actually comes through and tells not only an amazing story (and given the strong ties to Revolutionary Girl Utena, I shouldn’t be surprised), but one that makes it abundantly clear to even the more ardent homophobe that “othering” people and attempting to “build a wall” to keep out undesirables hurts not only the “others”, but the “ruling majority” as well. And it’s subtle enough that… wait… is that official art of two teenage girls licking honey off of the third? Okay, maybe the lesbian overtones are a little… superliminal. But I stand by my assessment that even people that would normally be frightened away by the gay can enjoy this series and maybe even learn something. It’s got bears, after all. Bears are macho, right? Or am I thinking of something else?

Absolute Duo

See Infinite Stratos.

Persona 4 The Animation &
Blazblue: Alter Memory

Ever play these video games? Good, then there is absolutely no reason to watch these shows. Next time you complain about a movie not being faithful enough to its source material, remember that there’s a terrible universe where that “movie” is five hours long, and offers absolutely no additional insight or ideas.

Steins;Gate

And speaking of adaptions, here’s an odd one. Steins;Gate is another damn harem anime, but the reason I paid it any real attention is that it contains a season-long time travel plot, and, seriously, you could shoehorn time travel into a porno, and I’d watch it attentively with notebook in hand (“Hm… so he’s traveling through time to make sure she’s not a virgin in the future when… wait… How does the pizza delivery fit in to all of this?”). The boy of this show is Okabe, a fairly detestable creature that, forgoing the “purity” of his harem star He ate her yogurt or somethingfraternity, is easily the least likeable member of the cast. This isn’t a matter of the main character being a boring protagonist, no, this is a matter of it being established early on that this is a “hero” who has essentially kidnapped two friends from the start, and has a third victim by the end of the first episode. He’s narcissistic, transphobic, misogynistic, and women seem to fall for him when he shows the tiniest glimmer of humanity.

But, seriously? I don’t give a damn, because I can deal with an unlikeable protagonist if the story is interesting. This is no Breaking Bad, but the science of the show coupled with its pacing and the fact that we’re basically dealing with a “time travel whodunit” is enough to hold my interest. It’s okay that Okabe is a jerk, because he’s supposed to be an eccentric genius, not Sir Galahad. He’s one unpleasant character in a cast of, what, eight or so? Doc Brown, godfather of time travel, was neat to watch, but I wouldn’t exactly trust him with my car keys. No big deal.

And then I discovered that Steins;Gate was all based on a video game. And that game is of the “visual novel” variety. And Okabe? That’s you. You are Okabe.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the scariest hell imaginable.

Watch. Do not play.

Upotte!!

I have no idea what this is, or who it was intended for, but if you ever find someone raving about this being their favorite show, please, please tell an adult.

Monogatari
Or whatever they’re calling it this week

There are some significant reasons to never watch this show. Among them:

  1. The fanservice is constant and unflinching. This is a series that opens with a thirty second panty shot. I know this because they literally put a clock on the screen as it happens.
  2. Two of the characters are Starfire-level exhibitionists, so, no need for a beach episode, you’ll see them near-naked before their introductions are over. A third character is prim and proper and reserved… but has a split personality that causes her to strip to her unmentionables. The most reserved character winds up with a malady that just happens to cover her body, so she’s gotta get naked for the investigation. This is not very subtle.
  3. There’s a thousand year old vampire… who is “influenced” by the (male, duh) main character into appearing like a preteen child. See any of my posts on Kingdom Heart’s Xion for details on how much I love the trope of “woman whose appearance is exactly what her man desires”. See also Meggan of the X-Men, assuming you believe this to be an exclusively Japanese thing.
  4. Perhaps worst of all, the protagonist has a pair of younger sisters that are confirmed to be sub-high school age and… you can guess where this is going, right? Yeah, they’re sexualized like hell, rapidly graduating from unfortunate camera angles to full-on partial nudity, with a particular emphasis on the youngest of the two. Unless you’ve got a… sister lolita complex? Is that a thing? Unless that’s your specific kink, there’s pretty much no way you’re making it through these scenes without being grossed out. Hell, I’m nauseas just typing it.

All that said? I’ll watch every episode of this show.

A long time ago, like, back in the age of Shakespeare, directors realized that watching two people converse was about as interesting as watching a puppy nap (“Aww, that’s cute… Okay, let’s go do something else now.”), so various tricks and techniques were developed to create the illusion of forward momentum even when nothing is technically happening. Fastforward to the age of television, and you’ll see even more refined methods for masking boring conversations. Consider that any one of the thousand procedural shows now on the boob tube are just a series of experts talking to each other about an event that already happened before the opening credits, but that illusion of momentum is maintained through camera angles and actors unnecessarily walking down hallways and through labs. I’m certain that every single episode of Law & Order could actually be produced using two sets and four actors.

Also note that the majority of video games ever produced do not understand this simple fact. Please enjoy these two static characters standing parallel while text scrolls along.

90% of Monogatari is just two characters having a conversation that is at least tangentially related to the central problem, but, rather than employ Smexyany of the old standbys of traditional drama, Monogatari seems to have opted for allowing the animators to go wild. The first I ever saw of this series was two characters sitting on a bed discussing the concept of love for fifteen minutes, which, by all accounts, should be the most boring thing ever produced; but, no, it was an interesting mix of styles and text and all sorts of crazy things. It really shouldn’t work, it shouldn’t be fun to watch, but it is, and it occasionally strikes an excellent emotional chord by flashing images of what the speaking character is clearly thinking, but doesn’t have the guts to say. It’s a neat trick, and does an excellent job of making each episode distinct and remarkable.

And the other chief reason I keep watching Monogatari? I haven’t seen a show that made me feel for teenagers this much since FLCL. Look, I’m not one to romanticize my own teenage years. When I was living it, I could nary believe some people refer to that age as “the best years of your life”. If anything, I consider high school to be the absolute worst time of my life. Not that it was that bad, mind you, simply that it was the first time in my life that I really felt like I deserved to be steering my own ship, but had absolutely no freedom to do so. When I really think on it, high school is likely the time period in my life I’d like to relive the absolute least. Do-over, yes, but not reexperience on its own terms.

But in some strange, honest way, Monogatari makes me actually feel nostalgic for being a teenager, and particularly the concept of teen romance. Maybe it’s a side effect of the animators so frequently, almost subliminally dropping into the protagonist’s head, but there’s a sincerity to relationship interactions in this series that is completely absent from the likes of shows like Infinite Stratos. So many harem animes claim their heroes are pure and good and the center of so much female attention because of their nobility, but all they ever do is save people when they’re in danger, which, congratulations, dude, you didn’t watch another human being die, here’s your damn medal (and six girlfriends). Mix that faux-nobility with a character that seems to be either wildly sexually repressed or downright asexual (despite being a straight teenage boy), and you’ve got the recipe for a boy that seems more mythical than giant robots and magic powers. Monogatari is wall-to-wall male gaze, but that’s exactly what that male is gazing at, and he makes no excuses for his own behavior, simply a, “I’m a teenage boy, what did you expect?” And, if I’m being honest, I envy that. I covet the time when relationships were new, when you didn’t fly into every new relationship with more baggage than could ever be stowed overhead, when it was just, “hehe, I like your boobs.” Yes, it’s wildly immature and problematic, but that’s exactly why I miss it. I will literally never feel that pure, animalistic lust about a woman ever again, and that’s a good thing for everyone involved, but that doesn’t mean I can’t miss those simpler, hormonal times. I wouldn’t want to go back, but I can feel for that lost feeling.

Monogatari makes me feel, and I feel like that’s important.

Highschool DxD

See Infinite Stratos.