|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: ARC System Works||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Aksys Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 10, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger was the only new fighting IP last year to make a splash in a sea of high-profile sequels like Street Fighter IV and Tekken 6. Although this title had no history behind it, a killer pixel-based art style and extremely challenging battle system made BlazBlue a standout fighter. Although BlazBlue 2 is still a while off, BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger Portable has been released to satiate fans in the interim. Much of the content in BlazBlue Portable is the same as the console version, but there are some new features that super-fans will definitely appreciate.
If you have never played BlazBlue before, one thing you don't have to worry about is feeling slighted by the portable version's Story Mode. The story in the original was multi-faceted and was different for each character. Though connections between the characters seem slim at first, by going through the different character backgrounds, an epic story will be revealed that involves a magical world on the brink of social destruction. The only hope is a mysterious man known only as "Mr. Grim Reaper". However, this mystery man has some personal demons that threaten to prevent him from becoming the hero the world needs. Add a secret militaristic group, an over-enthusiastic hero wannabe, and a race of underground cat people (seriously) and you have a widely varied story that spans 20-30 hours (each character's story mode is about 3-5 hours in length). Adding to this epic feel is the ability for each character to follow different paths and experience multiple endings. Fighting games have, unfortunately, earned a reputation for being rather lightweight in terms of story, but BlazBlue definitely bucks this trend and creates a story that will make you want to keep playing.
However, in order to fully appreciate the story in BlazBlue Portable, you'll have to master the battle system, and that is easier said than done. The original BlazBlue shipped with a tutorial DVD filled with strategies and tips for success. There is a reason for that. Although the words "impossible" and "ridiculous" may come to mind when you first pick this title up, stick with it! The battle system includes endless combos that you can chain many times over to create new attacks. BlazBlue uses a very specific combo track (known as a Distortion Drive) to create powerful top-tier moves that, if performed successfully, will culminate in an Astral Heat attack, which is BlazBlue's version of fatalities.
Once you master the battle system and play each character's story to 100%, there is still much more to explore in BlazBlue Portable. Like the console version, there are versus and network modes that allow you to play against human and computer opponents. The only major change in the portable version is that the network mode does not have an online feature and only allows you to play locally using the PSP's ad-hoc feature. The loss of the online mode is regrettable, especially since the online functionality on the console version was quite robust.
The lack of an online mode is very disappointing, but don't feel too bad. To make up for it, BlazBlue Portable has two new modes: Shop and Legion. The Shop Mode is of particular value for those who have played the first game, as it allows you to purchase "ultimate" versions of the characters in the game, which were not available in the original. In addition to the ultimate characters, you can also purchase concept art and illustrations.