Tomo Ohno, Development Director at Arc System Works Europe talks to CVG about the Japanese smash hit beat 'em up BlazBlue.
He tells us how the 2D cult beat 'em up will stand out in Europe, why it can't be compared to Street Fighter IV and why he's proud to be a one trick pony.
What makes BlazBlue stand out in the UK and European market?
BlazBlue is the first fighter truly designed for the next gen consoles. Arc System designed the world of BlazBlue first then developed fighting game in this world. The characters were created over a period of 18 months, starting with brainstorming personalities for all twelve characters, each has their own nationality, birthday, likes/dislikes; all are used as the basis for fighting styles and story design, The next stage was hand sketches, only then moving on to full 3D modelling and finally bringing these back, through tracing their outlines to 2D to enable exaggerated Manga style expressions. As a result, they come alive, obtain warmth and have a real character.
The game has been conceived, designed and developed with the wide fighting game audiences in mind including, importantly, non fighting fans. Making it easy to pick up and play competitively for maximum enjoyment, but the depth of combinations and moves will tax even the most experienced players. While the RPG adventure story mode has been designed and developed to have 'life' as each of the 12 characters has their own story to tell with multiple endings.
Do unusual game titles mean anything? Sometime yes! And here it forms the backbone of the critically acclaimed PRG adventure story mode. In the year 2199 a betrayed soldier, Ragna the Bloodedge, is bent on revenge and has mastered an unstoppable fusion of magic and technology, Azure Grimoire, also known as the BlazBlue. Combatants gather in the 13th Hierarchical City of Kagutsuchi to stop him or claim the BlazBlue for themselves.
What does the game do that we've never seen before?
There are many features and expressions we tried to bring into BlazBlue which have not been included before such as high attention to detail which makes you will feel like you are fighting in the Anime world. But, BlazBlue is not something entirely "new"; we reviewed, analysed, and improved various aspects of fighting games, fully utilizing our experiences on Guilty Gear. It is not difficult to develop a fighting game but it is very difficult to do it right. It's like a like burger from road side van Vs a burger carefully cooked by Heston. Or Sushi on plastic tray in super market Vs Sushi delicately prepared by veteran chef in Tokyo. They use the same ingredients but by paying attention, passion, and affection, you get totally different results.
Does the success of Street Fighter IV bode well for the game's release?
You should not compare apples and pears! SF4 is a great game. SF is about axis, BlazBlue is about combos. Also, BlazBlue has a strong focus on the detailed RPG adventure story behind the characters that will run and develop through the series. We are hoping fans of F enjoy BlazBlue as much. The Online mode, we believe, is one of our strongest suits, if we compare function to function between these titles.
Can BlazBlue stand toe to toe with SF4 and SSF4 gameplay-wise?
That's always up the gaming audience to decide. Obviously we would say "yes"! Seriously, the review scores from a broad section of pure gaming and mainstream gaming sources very much suggests it does with an average UK score of 87%. And in many areas we believe we have brought fresh ideas to the genre, utilising the single button system and the aerial attack or defence options. Ghostly Arakune swallows opponents and spits them out, Sexy Litchi uses pole dancing attack skills. Catlike Taokaka meows and purrs. Cute Noel comes with two guns, big ones. The full beauty of playing BlazBlue is seen once you're on the giving end of a perfectly executed 40 move chaining combo.