Getting into a long-standing fighting game series is always a challenge for new players. There are so many characters and different versions to go over for many of them and going up against seasoned players who’ve been with the series for years is one of the biggest barriers. BlazBlue, however, has something a lot of other games don’t have; a ton of story. The series is known for having a lot of story content, which can make that initial barrier even harder for new players because if they jump into a new game and play the story mode, they aren’t going to be able to follow it.
I had gotten a copy of the first game in the series, BlazBlue Calamity Trigger when it was the only entry. I started playing it but got sidetracked. Before I could get back to it, Continuum Shift came out, followed by Continuum Shift II and then Continuum Shift Extend. I had really wanted to go through the story mode but was left unsure of if I should continue where I left off or get one of the other games. Each game adds additional scenarios and it isn’t always immediately clear what’s a sequel and what isn’t. I wasn’t sure at that point if Continuum Shift was a sequel or an update.
It turns it that it’s kind of both, since Continuum Shift Extend has its own version of Calamity Trigger‘s story mode, but that story mode is different than the original and doesn’t have quite as much detail, so then I wasn’t sure if I’d be missing a whole lot by just playing BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend. That indecisiveness basically led to me not playing either game to completion as the game’s two additional sequels piled up. One of those sequels has its own extended version but I don’t know much about any of that, as I’m unsure as to what I’d need to play or whether the latest sequel will get its own updated version that’ll include the story from an earlier version.
Now, before I’m misunderstood, I want to say that I’m not talking from a gameplay perspective here. I’m sure anyone who just wants a great fighting game can jump into the newest entry, learn the systems and gain the skills necessary to be competent. I’m talking solely from the perspective of someone who likes the story and wants to get the whole package, so-to-speak. Kingdom Hearts has a similar issue. And if this was all it was, I wouldn’t feel so hopelessly behind. But BlazBlue isn’t just a game series. It’s a media franchise.
The series has 8 novels that aren’t retellings of the games. On top of that, there are seven volumes of manga with an additional story. And then there are two visual novels to read on top of that. Not only is this a massive amount of information to dive into, but most fans won’t even be able to read the novels unless they can read Japanese. Fan translators have put out a couple of them, but to me, this means that I simply can’t fully immerse myself in the series.
That’s all fine and isn’t an issue to most, but I just feel like I’m missing out on the big picture. If I just try to play it like a fighting game, I know that I’m going to end up trying the story, getting lost and then bumming myself out with all the other things I’ll have to buy and work through. This, in turn, would lead to me wanting to focus on playing the most recent game in the series in order to improve my skills. At the same time, I’d also be playing through the older ones for story and trying to withstand the unavoidable disconnect that’ll come with trying to reconcile from differences in gameplay.
To be clear, I’m not trying to complain. This is the way it has to be when the developers put out a narrative-focused fighting game, but I just feel like, despite that philosophy being one of the most intriguing and unique things the series has to offer, that it also puts up hurdles some people won’t be able to get past. Perhaps one day I’ll try to sort it out in a way that works for me or even just watch YouTube videos, but for now, I just don’t think I can fully dive in.