Continuum Shift Extend is Arc System Works' latest effort in their hit 2D franchise. Seemingly using a similar release strategy to their previous Guilty
Gear series and Capcom's SF2 series in the 90's, Arc System Works has
already come out with 3 sequels to the original BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger...
all of which receiving
(some would say) "minor" updates along the way. As you might've
expected, Extend is the
compilation of everything the series has offered thus far.
The good part about that is, none of the "good stuff" has been compromised
since the original release. Extend offers the ultimate and most
experience to date, featuring a main menu filled to the brim with 16 different modes,
including: Story Mode (featuring 4 new paths for the previously DLC characters),
Abyss Mode (an RPG-like mode where you can power-up your fighter), Challenge
Mode (featuring new combo challenges for every fighter), and
Unlimited Mars Mode (where you'll face off against insanely difficult
opponents). In addition to the 18 returning characters from Continuum Shift 2,
Extend introduces one new character, Relius Clover. Finally, balance tweaks have also been made to
the 18 returning fighters, all of which receive some new techniques as well.
My review of Extend is exclusively for the PS Vita version. I took a pretty
long break from BlazBlue... for starters, I didn't download/buy all of the
characters to update my "vanilla" Continuum Shift to Continuum Shift
Since I'm not a serious BlazBlue player, I figured I'd save some money
and just wait for the next "full" sequel... and what better way
to get back into the series than with a shiny new, next-gen portable console?
tried the 3DS port of Continuum Shift 2 out of curiosity, but as I
expected, the graphics are terribly downgraded. However, the PS Vita stepped up to the
plate with Extend as a launch
title, and simply knocked it out of the park.
BlazBlue gained its reputation by being one of the most gorgeous 2D
fighters of all time. The game's translation to the PS Vita's amazingly sharp
OLED screen is nothing short of magic. The depth & vibrancy of the colors and the
crispness of the character sprites displayed on the Vita's small (but
screen is a delicious treat for your eyes. In fact, it's easily one of the most
beautiful visual experiences you can get on the Vita out of all the
This portable version of BlazBlue is indeed on par with the PS3/360 versions,
with hardly any visual compromises. Extend on the PlayStation Vita proves that
the system can do high-res 2D graphics without
even the slightest hiccup, and that's a very good sign for the future of the
Extend is among the best visual
experiences you can get on the PS Vita!
presentation begins with a brand new anime opening produced by Production I.G. and
showcases a new theme song called "Sokyu no Hikari" by Faylan. Other
than that, most of Extend's presentation is borrowed from the prequels;
however, it is still very much visually (and audibly) beautiful. The versus screen, character
selection, and main menu detail/animations never looked more impressive, actually. There's no drop
in frame rate, no missing animations (that I could notice), and hardly any
downsizing to those crispy, high-end character sprites. Amazing!!!
Ports on handheld systems are commonly expected to be missing a few of the console
features as well,
but once again, the PS Vita version of Extend doesn't skimp on any details
whatsoever. This is quite a feat for this game especially, since the
console versions are packed with modes, hours upon hours of
voiceovers (both in English and Japanese), feature an insanely long story mode, and plenty of bonus
The Tutorial from Continuum Shift is intact, and is still fully voiced by
Rachel Alucard. Rachel even goes on to explain the newest gameplay nuances of Extend,
and there's even a tutorial for each and every character in the game. Needless
to say, if you want to become a high level BlazBlue player, the Vita
version has you covered.
Like I've said before in my previous
reviews, BlazBlue isn't really "my kind of fighting game" at
the end of the day. I'll save you a few minutes and not list the reasons why,
but to my surprise, Aksys actually included a sort of "easy mode" in the game called
Stylish Mode. This intuitively designed play setting abbreviates the complexity
of BlazBlue's mechanics, and allows anyone to perform badass air combos
moves with the ease of single button presses.
It's true that I detest fighting game "button mashers," so I guess
I'm being a bit of a hypocrite when I say that I really enjoy Stylish Mode.
casual BlazBlue player like me (whom also doesn't want to wear out the D-pad on his shiny
new PS Vita), the Stylish setting really comes in handy and allows me to effectively
use characters that I wouldn't normally take the time to learn.
You can even use Stylish Mode online if you like, but it would seem a "high
level" player using Normal Mode will be able to take out a Stylish Mode
user with relative ease. On that note, playing online against other players
worldwide is a breeze, and believe it or not,
runs nearly as smoothly as it does on PS3 & 360! While not perfect, the
online mode of Extend is very much adequate and is packed with all of
the staple features of the console version! In addition, online "team
battles" are now featured for the first time ever. At the very least, this is a great
showcase of what the PS Vita will be able to do with fighting games in the
One more bizarre character
joins the fray... Carl Clover's father.
Story Mode borrows most of its contents from earlier
installments, but presents new story paths for Makoto, Valkenhayn, Platinum and
Relius. I only played
through the main BlazBlue storyline once (a few years back), so a lot of it actually seems
new to me. In its entirety, BlazBlue's story is literally the length of a novel,
with pages upon pages of text to click through. Thankfully, beautifully drawn 2D
artworks of settings and characters allow you to forget you're reading
text. The length of the story is only overshadowed by the
amount of actual spoken dialogue it contains, which is done by some impressive voice talent.
The enthusiastic and highly entertaining voiceovers encourage you to slow
down and enjoy Story Mode, rather than just skim through it.
While the storytelling is well-written and has its intriguing moments, it can
(and will) become monotonous. Each individual scene
with two (or more) characters interacting can range anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes (if you
don't skip anything). Characters tend to go off on wild tangents,
drifting far, far away from the main storyline.
Their shameless "small talk"
usually takes prominence over the actual plotline, and while it can be
hilarious at times... it does get excessive.
While I condone the absence of a "fighting game
tournament" plot, I tend to wonder why characters are talking about each other's eating habits,
endlessly reminiscing on past events, or repeating
what they just said in a different way.... all which finally
ends up culminating to "Ohh, and by the way, I
have these documents I meant to give you to get us back to the main
storyline" (14 minutes later).
It's pretty awesome that they flesh out the characters in such a way, but many interactions
really should be streamlined a bit. In any case, I'm not about to "complain"
about the length of a fighting game storyline.... Fabulous stuff Arc System
I'm enjoying it. I even got my girlfriend halfway interested in this game's story mode!
Arc System Works, Aksys Games
(), Zen United
Daisuke Ishiwatari (composer)
If for some reason you haven't tried out BlazBlue,
or you're looking to get back into the series, Extend is the way to
go. Much of the content, music, and gameplay is the same song and dance, but
that doesn't make this version any less impressive. Extend is packed with modes
galore and boasts the most spoken dialogue of any fighting game to date, by
far. Not even considering the vast Story Mode, the unique character-to-character interactions before, during, and after
battles is a trademark quality to BlazBlue that other fighting games need
to take notes on.
Worth mentioning, the PS Vita's "standby" feature actually suits some of the modes
better than the console version. I personally found it a bit tedious to sit in front of my TV and scroll
through pages of text in story mode, or take enough time to play through some of
the other time-consuming modes. The fact that
PS Vita enables you to pause your game, browse some other features on the system
if you like, and then quickly resume where you left off later on really comes in
Even though it's a bit short on actual "new" content, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend is a
solid package, and easily one of the
best launch titles for Vita. I wish there were a few more touch screen
features implemented, but otherwise, this feature-rich portable fighter is a
solid representation of what the Vita is capable of. It's also hard to believe they managed to fit so much content
onto that tiny game card.
If you own a Vita and you're a 2D fighting game enthusiast, you'd be smart to pick this
Just in case you're wondering, if I was reviewing the console version of Extend, the
game would've received a slightly lower final score. When it comes down to it,
$39 is a still bit pricey for a sequel offering minimal new content.