Fighting games are probably my favourite genre in videogames. Outside of stimulating gameplay, I love the characters, music, artwork and even the stories (yes, really). I enjoy the pick-up-and-play gameplay which can last thirty minutes or even several hours if I want to get good at what I’m playing or simply because the game is that good. Unfortunately, the current generation of consoles has served up a few nasty disappointments such as Street Fighter V (unfinished on release, cynical F2P/DLC feel) and Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite (unimpressive visuals and – again – more fucking pre-determined DLC!!). The good, fair stuff is still out there (The King of Fighters XIV for example) but it seems that so much about modern fighting games is about cash-grabbing or telling us what add-ons we will be buying post-release before a game even hits the shelves.
If you want to try and fight “progress” then the best bet is usually obscure imports from Japan but this is a road that can lead to incomprehensible menus, purple hair and obscenely enormous breasts. Not that these things offend me but I just wish that I didn’t feel so apathetic towards the mainstream fighting game series’ and what they have become.
A game like Blade Strangers then is the kind of thing that I can get on board with. It’s going to get a fairly mainstream release in the West for several platforms (PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC) and is beautiful 2D-styled fighting game that looks very retro and features a mash-up of characters from smaller games such as Code of Princess, Umihara Kawase and Cave Story.
So far the gameplay looks like it could be quite intuitive and easy to get started with but with layers of complexity below the surface for old-school competitive players to get excited about. This gets a big thumbs-up from me because I want some depth and the scope for technical combos but I’d also like to be able to get into the game fairly easily and learn as I go along. For all the talk of being accessible for newbies, I found Street Fighter V (I know I keep bashing on it…) to be quite difficult to get into initially with the new combos/moves for existing characters and new V-Trigger system so anything which doesn’t make feel like I need to use the tutorials after years upon years of playing fighting games is welcomed by me.
Above all however, Blade Strangers simply looks like fun (remember that?) and I love a good crossover, especially when lesser-known characters/series’ are involved as they are here. Code of Princess was a big disappointment for me on the 3DS but I loved Kinu Nishimura’s artwork for the game and respected the stubbornly old-school gameplay so I’m really pleased to see these things being allowed to continue breathing in a sometimes stifling industry. It’s also nice to see Princess Solange continuing to strut her stuff in spite of all the criticism of Ms Nishimura’s scantily-clad design for the character, especially (surprisingly enough) in Japan. Nipple armour, a wispy skirt and a building-sized sword are all a King’s daughter needs to go into battle after all.
Blade Strangers is slated for a 2017/2018 release but I would be surprised if we see it this side of Christmas. Something to look forward to in the often dry post-holiday season at the least.
[Disclaimer – I do actually enjoy Street Fighter V…it’s just too easy to pick apart!]