Back in 2009 BlazBlue was released to the masses on both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 to critical success. Gamers everywhere wanted more of the spiritual successor to Arc System Work’s previous fighter, Guilty Gear. Fans got their wish, sort of. Later on this year BlazBlue Continuum Shift will be coming to arcades and the consoles late summer. Until then, fans can quench their thirst of BlazBlue on the go with BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Portable for the PSP.
As everyone knows, most fighting games either have no story line whatsoever or it doesn't make much sense trying to inter connect the main story line with each individual fighter. So here's the main story line to BlazBlue in a nutshell. Humanity was on the verge of extinction from a creature of Darkness called the "Black Beast". The world was saved by six heroes who wielded "Armagus", a fusion of magic and technology, to defeat the Beast. After the war, an organization called the Novus Orbis Librarium Armagus (the Library or NOL) was created to govern the world with the use of Armagus. A great deal of dissent was caused by the Library, partly due to Armagus' use in nearly every facet of society, and the widening socioeconomic gap between those who could and couldn't use Armagus.
This segregation of society eventually caused The Ikaruga Civil War, when people of the Ikaruga Union rebelled against the NOL. After the war, the Library imposed a harsher rule on the world, punishing any rebellion against the Library with the death penalty. In 2199, several years after the Ikaruga Civil War, a branch of the Library was utterly destroyed by an SS-class traitor named "Ragna the Bloodedge" in an attempt to destroy the entire Library. The NOL, hoping to stop him, immediately put the largest bounty ever for anyone who could capture him. Interestingly, Ragna possessed a powerful form of Armagus known as the "Azure Grimoire" also known as the BlazBlue. This led to the Librarium, as well as the Ikaruga Union and other fighters, to be after not just his bounty, but also his grimoire. That’s the main story line and the one that interconnects each fighter. As you play as different characters, the story line will play through their eyes, which makes each character’s experience different from each other and often interconnecting with each other. What makes BlazBlue different from the other fighting games is how they integrate the story line with the game play.
Calamity Trigger Portable plays almost exactly like its console cousins, but with a few tweaks due to the missing second analog stick and a pair of shoulder buttons. All the modes that were on the consoles also make an appearance here with two new modes exclusive to the game: Legion and Shop. For the most part, the control scheme is just like the consoles, with the analog stick used for pulling off specials moves the easy way. Like with all fighting games, BlazBlue’s fighters have some of the most unique super moves called Distortions. Each Distortion is different from fighter to fighter, ranging from status boots to over the top combos.
Another aspect of the game play that I had mentioned earlier was how the story integrates into the game play. This take the form along the lines of a pick your adventure styled books. With some characters, choices appear on the screen, letting you decide how the character reacts to the situation. Picking one may lead to a fight, or may lead to the end of a story branch. I haven’t seen this done before in a fighter, so it feels really good to see some innovation to push the genre forward. One thing that does bother me is the lack of mapping the movement to the analog stick on the PSP. With most fighters on the PSP, I personally like using the analog as an arcade stick and easier movement.
Like its console cousins BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Portable is a 2D fighter. Now since this is a port to the PSP, the graphics have been scaled down to perform well on the PSP’s engine. Though it may not have the flashy 2D HD animation and art work, Calamity Trigger Portable is still a good looking game. Some of the Distortion specials have been toned down to be able to play on the PSP, as well as some of the various flashier moves. Other than those few minor cuts and an instrumental version of the theme song, all of the games sounds, music and cuts scenes are still intact and appear as they did in the console versions.
The replay value of Calamity Trigger Portable is about the same length as the console versions, having all the same modes and including two new modes called Legion and Shop. Legion is almost a type of a board/strategy game. The player chooses their starting character and moves long the board fighting enemies in different regions. Once the enemy of that region has been defeated the player can take that fighter and add him or her to their army. As they progress the enemies grow in numbers and harder. When the player’s army beats each area, they will have the chance to pick an enemy to join their army. This actually was a refreshing mode that was added in, combing the skill of fighting with the strategy of who to use to fight the enemies and how to pick after victory. While Shop mode is self explanatory, being that it's a shop. In some of the modes, fighters are rewarded points, and these points are used to unlock extra items that are not found in the gallery. As for online play, they decided to go with an Ad-Hoc network, which is disappointing since the online in the consoles was well executed.
For being a ported down version of the console game, BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Portable holds its own in the handheld world of gaming. Although not quite as good looking as the consoles Blazblue: Calamity Trigger Portable does bring some new modes to the game that may be possibly adapted to the console version when the new BlazBlue game comes out. If you need a quick fighting fix, BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Portable should take care of that itch.
- Mike V.