My Opinion About Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code

I remember it like it was yesterday. My buddy and I were playing hours of Street Fighter 3: Third Strike when he suddenly turned to me and asked me if I wanted to try something new. I was struck with confusion, Third Strike was OUR thing, it’s what our friendship was built on and here he is wanting to try something new? Reluctantly I agreed and then asked what was it, he then replied, “Melty Blood”. I was stunned, but who wouldn’t be stunned with an awesome name like that? We then spent hours with this newly discovered anime fighter and branded ourselves rebels because we were playing this hot new Japanese exclusive outside of the country. However, the allure began to fade, my friend lost interest, and I didn’t have a powerful enough computer at the time to run it. I honestly thought that day would be the last time that I would ever talk about Melty Blood — that is until right now.

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You probably don’t know this, but this game took ages to make it to the states. So buckle up, because here comes a quick history lesson. Melty Blood started its days as an indie fighting game jointly developed by Type-Moon and French Bread back in 2002. The PC version continued to receive some updates along the way, then around 2005, Ecole Software steps forward and develops Melty Blood ports for the arcade and PlayStation 2 and the series began to slowly stray away from its PC roots. It wouldn’t be until 2011 when Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code would finally make its way back to the PC. Five years later, thanks to Arc System Works, we finally have an official release here in the States.

The game encompasses an impressive soundtrack, plenty of stages to choose from, 31 characters, and several playable game modes that you’d expect to see in your everyday fighter. First, there’s an arcade mode where the player fights CPU opponents across nine stages. The story takes place after the events of the original Melty Blood and each character plays a role in the new chapter entitled Hologram Summer Again. Fair warning, you’ll be completely lost if you’ve never played Tsukihime, the visual novel which Melty Blood is based from. So a mode that recounts the events up until Actress Again would have been a nice addition. Then, there’s the versus and training mode, which both are pretty standard by conventional fighting game standards. And finally, there is the network mode and to be honest, during my research I found it a bit difficult to find matches in my region. In the end, I had to expand my search range, which helped me find matches, but the increased latency totally kills the swift back and forth action.

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This game uses rapid decisions through a four button system. The A, B, and C buttons correspond to weak, medium, and heavy respectively. While the D button functions as a shield or parry of sorts. Each character utilizes a near identical move-set with similar motions that increase the ease of learning a new character. So if you know how to do a quarter circle forward or back motion, then you can probably operate the majority of the characters in the cast. Along with the special moves, the cast has access to various types of advanced states and super moves that are totally dependent on the status of their magic circuit or in simplified terms — the super meter. When the player has at least 100% magic circuit, they can press the A, B, and C buttons simultaneously to activate Heat Mode. In this state the player can regenerate life and can also use an advanced super move known as Arc-Drives. But in Melty Blood, you can’t just sit on the meter and wait too long for the right opportunity to use it. When it comes to meter usage, Melty Blood does something unique that I haven’t experienced in other fighters — once the meter reaches its maximum point, it automatically enters into Max Mode and the meter starts depleting rapidly. This forces the player to go on an all-out offensive and utilize the meter that they’ve built up before it’s gone. During Max Mode the player can still use Arc-Drives, enter an advanced Heat Mode called Blood Heat Mode for access to the flashy Last-Arc countering move and use the Circuit Spark mechanic — which is just a type of defensive burst maneuver. But Circuit Spark can only be used with the crescent and half-moon styles.

These moon styles I speak of were introduced in Actress Again and, in my opinion, they add a layer of complexity to the game. If you’ve played Street Fighter Alpha 3 or Capcom vs. SNK 2, then moon styles could be best compared to -ISMs or the Groove system. Each moon style alters the game’s mechanics to better suit the player’s style. However, not only do they change the mechanics, they also alter a character’s attacks, specials, and at times, their movement. The Crescent Moon style caters towards players that desire to strike a balance between speed, power, and combos. While the Half Moon style focuses on combos in place of power, but the power still exists through advanced combos. Then there is the Full Moon style which limits combos in exchange for sheer power. As I mentioned earlier, these styles can alter the mechanics quite a bit. For instance, the crescent and half-moon styles have the ability to use reverse beat — a mechanic that allows the player to go back in a string of normal moves. Which just means that you can press the weak, medium, and heavy buttons in succession, then revert back to the weak button for added combo possibilities or return to a normal with fast recovery. While the full moon style does not have this mechanic, its play style will feel familiar to players accustomed to the chaining mechanics of fighters like Skullgirls, Darkstalkers, or Guilty Gear.

These moon styles I speak of were introduced in Actress Again and, in my opinion, they add a layer of complexity to the game. If you’ve played Street Fighter Alpha 3 or Capcom vs. SNK 2, then moon styles could be best compared to -ISMs or the Groove system. Each moon style alters the game’s mechanics to better suit the player’s style. However, not only do they change the mechanics, they also alter a character’s attacks, specials, and at times, their movement. The Crescent Moon style caters towards players that desire to strike a balance between speed, power, and combos. While the Half Moon style focuses on combos in place of power, but the power still exists through advanced combos. Then there is the Full Moon style which limits combos in exchange for sheer power. As I mentioned earlier, these styles can alter the mechanics quite a bit. For instance, the crescent and half-moon styles have the ability to use reverse beat — a mechanic that allows the player to go back in a string of normal moves. Which just means that you can press the weak, medium, and heavy buttons in succession, then revert back to the weak button for added combo possibilities or return to a normal with fast recovery. While the full moon style does not have this mechanic, its play style will feel familiar to players accustomed to the chaining mechanics of fighters like Skullgirls, Darkstalkers, or Guilty Gear.

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With that being said, Melty Blood really began to grow on me while I was writing the column. It’s a good anime fighter that is easy to learn with cool mechanics, but it definitely has flaws that plague recent fighting game re-releases. The number of modes is lacking, network mode definitely needs work, and at least half of the playable characters are clone or joke characters. This game has a lot of mechanics with different features and details, so I found it to be sad that they only get minimal descriptions on the character select screen. Sure, there are plenty of resources online, but a tutorial mode or at least a digital manual would have been a nice addition to help new players. I’m happy that we finally have an official release of Melty Blood, but I can only recommend this game those players who enjoy experiencing different fighting games, who’re familiar with the game’s story — or in the case of network mode — have other friends who’re interested in the game, because the online community is small. In all honesty, I think Melty Blood’s arrival to the states might have been a little too late.
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