By William Haderlie / April 23rd, 2016
|Title||Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code|
|Publisher||Arc System Works|
|Release Date||April 19, 2016|
|Genre||2D Air-dash (anime) Fighting Game|
|Age Rating||All Ages|
Two of the most common questions asked in any fighting game stream are the following; “Where is Melty?” Followed quickly by, “What the hell is Melty?” Melty is here, so I will answer the second question. Melty Blood is the doujin fighting game based on a Type-Moon adult visual novel (and then manga and anime adaptations after) called Tsukihime. Its first version was released in December 2002. Which may beg the question, why would anyone still care? There are many doujin fighting games out there (most of them frankly never see the light of day in the West), so why does this one mean so much to the fighting game community? Well, certainly some of that comes from its presence in fighting game tournaments being somewhat of a meme, but mostly it’s due to sheer quality. I still love the character designs and this also has one of my favorite fighting game soundtracks of all time, but nothing trumps gameplay. The Current Code edition does give those sprites a bit of new life with some optional graphics filters and 1080p support. And the music is also mostly gothic but there are a lot of pretty funny tunes in there as well, it’s hard to describe without hearing it yourself. But regarding the gameplay, this is a major entry in the question of what fighting game is the most complex of all time, so I’ll do my best at describing some of the mechanics for newcomers.
The roster has grown over the years, but in its current iteration there are 31 characters to choose from at the select screen. Several of them are different versions of the same character and there are a couple options to choose two characters at once. Those two character options have one character that can be damaged and typically does normals (regular punches and kicks) while the other character cannot be hit and does many of the specials. It’s a little difficult to describe in writing, but there is no major advantage or handicap to choosing the two characters at once, it’s more a question of playing style. Once you choose your character you also have to choose a Moon Phase, or Style. And that’s where this game starts to really live up to its complexity.
Changing Moon Styles can affect many characters in very significant ways. Not only does it change mechanics involving blocking and meter management, but it can drastically affect special move properties and even some movement options. Meter management is the most consistent change between all the characters when choosing a Style. If you have ever played Capcom vs SNK 2 (CvS2) and chosen the different Grooves, this is somewhat similar. A good rule of thumb is that Half Moon Style is a bit more basic, having a little bit of both worlds with defensive options but not packing much power. In Crescent Moon you have some good defense options, such as dodge and Circuit Spark and also in HEAT (when you reach 300% Meter), characters have a 1.07 additional damage modifier and a 0.9 additional defense modifier. In BLOOD HEAT (requires activation while in HEAT), characters have a 1.13 additional damage modifier and an additional 0.85 defense modifier. For Full Moon Style you lose a lot of your defense options, like the ability to dodge or EX Shield, but you are a glass cannon, you have more chain attacks and you can manually charge meter without the normal need to hit the other character or get hit or use specials. There is a lot more to it than this, but for the scope of this review I’ll leave it there. If you want more information to learn this game even more, be sure to check out the wiki on Mizuumi.
The above match video is from CEOtaku of last year. It is a bit of a blow up, but to be fair GO1-3151 (Goichi) is one of the top Melty players in the world. But nothing beats seeing a fighting game in action to know how it plays. You will notice how vertical the game is, and that’s strategically important for any air dash 2D fighter. You definitely have to keep that in mind for blocking cross ups and not getting into unblockable situations if you can avoid it. While there are fewer buttons than many other fighters (typically only A,B,C, and D) the number of things that you can do in combination is quite vast. Add to that its cool aesthetic and it is easy to see why this is such a popular game in fighting game tournaments. Even when this game doesn’t make a main stage tournament, it’s almost always being played in some hotel room (or in the parking lot, as the meme would go).
All the options and content from the previous releases of this game, and that you would expect in almost any other fighting game, are present here. You have the Arcade Mode that also functions as a story mode with small snippets of story and a short ending. You also have access to different routes and different boss fights depending on your performance within that mode. It’s a classic formula but it still works. There are a few spelling and grammar errors that I found in the translation, but it beats having to learn to read Japanese in order to understand any of the story. The story is fun, and at times ridiculous, so it can be a fun diversion for the more casual audience. Training Mode has a lot of good options and that is a necessity for a title like this. You will be spending hours upon hours upon days in training mode if you want to play this in a tournament setting. But really this release is mostly for the hardcore, and that’s where local and online versus comes into play the most.
The online mode includes regular matches and also ranked matches. You can create a room for unranked matches that you can set a room size and various options such as number of rounds and connectivity strength to enter. The netcode could use some work, but I generally did not have too many problems. Waiting for ranked matches was a bit of a pain because you can’t be in Training Mode or Arcade Mode while you wait. But I just played a game on my PS Vita or read a book while I waited for the matchmaking. They have already patched in some of the online matchmaking issues that people were having (although I didn’t experience any of them myself) as of April 21st, so Arc System Works is keeping an eye on this. But I have few complaints regardless because the original game’s servers were shut down a couple years ago.
But clearly the best reason to own this game is for local co-op. If you want to own a legit (non-pirated) version of this game, this is definitely the way to go. I can bring a laptop or small computer with me to tournaments and have KoF XIII, Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, Arcana Heart 3, Street Fighter V, and now even Melty Blood on it. No juggling systems or worrying about whether your stick will work across all the games you are playing. That is such a huge boon for us old tournament players. So anything that Arc System Works has done with the net code and re-invigorating the online play for this classic is just a bonus for me. Yes, I did knock down the score a little bit because there aren’t really any additional features and there were some difficulties with translation and net-code. But overall I am extremely happy with having much better access to this game, and an English translation of it. $24.99 (on sale currently though for $19.99) is quite a reasonable price for the number of hours that I’m going to sink into one of my favorite fighting games of all time. Bring on the maids!
Review Copy Provided By Publisher
2D Fighting GameCEOtakudoujinfrench breadMelty BloodMelty Blood Actress Again Current CodeTYPE-MOON