Saturday, December 26, 2009

Melty Blood: Actress Again

Engrish title aside, the latest (and from what I've heard, it could be the last) installment in the Melty Blood series is pretty cool. It has several new characters and a couple new gameplay twists to add to its depth and variety.

Aside from balance changes and new moves, there's one important new thing that you'll notice right away: styles. When you choose your character, you now get a choice between three different styles. These change various aspects of gameplay for your character.

Crescent-Moon Style: Balanced. If you don't know what to choose, choose this style. It's the most similar to Act Cadenza/Re-Act Final Tuned. If you've played either of those, you'll be right at home here.

Full-Moon Style: Offense. You can charge your gauge by holding A+B+C (the same combination you press to enter Heat and Blood Heat), but you're vulnerable while doing so. Charging begins slowly but if you keep the buttons held it speeds up. Regular Heat is not available. Move lists are adjusted slightly.

Half-Moon Style: Defense. When you shield against an attack (D button), you automatically counterattack. Your gauge only goes up to 200% instead of the usual 300%, and when it maxes you enter Heat. Max Heat and Blood Heat are not available. This means no Last Arcs and no high power version of your character's Arc-Drive, since you have to be in Blood Heat to do either of those. Move lists are adjusted slightly, but in a different way from Full-Moon Style.

The style someone is using is denoted by the moon icon next to their character portrait. The icons are fairly obvious, so you can easily tell at a glance what to expect during the fight.

Going through arcade mode, as is necessary to unlock the hidden characters, I discovered some of them have Dust of Osiris as their end boss. Since that means nothing if you haven't already fought against her, she stands on the hand of a large monster that takes up the entire screen. She deals tremendous damage and you're always within melee range of her. When her Magic Circuit is charged all the way she almost always immediately uses her Arc-Drive, which can't be blocked (it can be shielded if you time it right). This Arc-Drive deals massive damage and is usually enough to finish you off, though on a few occasions I've survived it.

Thankfully there's a fairly cheap strategy that makes beating her easier. Jump in the air and spam B and C. Occasionally she'll knock you back, push towards her and hit a button to recover and launch yourself back at her. Keep spamming B and C and you should win. Luckily, you only have to beat her once, whereas she still has to beat you twice.

There are also several new characters, some of whom need to be unlocked. Here's a combination list of both new and unlockable characters. In no particular order... (usually when someone says "in no particular order" there is in fact an order, but here I just listed them randomly)

Riesbyfe Stridberg is kind of slow, but powerful. She has a cello shield thing that's also her weapon. She's the only new character I've gone through Arcade mode with so far.

Tohno Akiha isn't new, but there's an unlockable school uniform version of her. This version plays somewhat differently from her regular version. To unlock this version, complete Arcade Mode with Tohno Akiha and Akiha Vermillion. Order doesn't matter. Sounds easy, but involves beating Dust of Osiris twice.

Kohaku & Mecha-Hisui, despite being named like Hisui & Kohaku, aren't a tag team character. Instead, half of the move list (and the d-pad and attack buttons) controls the primary character, and the other half tells the other what to do. To unlock them, complete Arcade Mode with Neko-Arc (who is unlocked by default this time around).

Neko-Arc and Mecha-Hisui also aren't a tag team character. They work in the same manner that Kohaku & Mecha-Hisui do. To unlock them, complete Arcade Mode with Miyako.

White Len is playable on some of the PC versions, but to my knowledge this is the first console version she's playable on.

Michael-Roa Valdamjong uses lightning and is quite annoying to play against in Arcade Mode. I haven't yet played as him.

Ryougi Shiki I would imagine playing fairly similarly to Tohno Shiki and Nanaya Shiki. She's holding a knife in her character portrait, so... yeah.

Archetype Earth Arcueid I haven't actually unlocked yet, so I can't really comment except to say that she's the only playable character that uses the Eclipse style. This style, among other things, automatically charges your Magic Circuit over the course of the battle. According to GameFAQs, complete Arcade Mode with all characters to unlock her. Some people on the message board for the game also report unlocking her when completing Boss Rush mode without continues.

Neko-Arc Chaos is unlockable and plays like a weird combination of Neko-Arc and Nrvnqsr Chaos. How the hell are you supposed to pronounce Nrvnqsr anyway? I just say "nerv-en-q-sir". To unlock Neko-Arc Chaos, complete Arcade Mode with Hisui and White Len. Order doesn't matter.

I briefly mentioned Boss Rush mode when talking about Archetype Earth Arcueid. I'm not entirely sure what the condition for unlocking it is. I got it after unlocking all unlockable characters other than Archetype Earth Arcueid. In Boss Rush mode, you'll have to fight against a series of characters that all use Eclipse style.

The character select screen has the costume selection mechanism from the PC version of Act Cadenza ver.B, where you can freely move about the 36 available colors for each character. This is way better than the PS2 version of Act Cadenza where you just had to hit Triangle to cycle through them, and if you went past the one you wanted you had to continue hitting Triangle until it came back around.

I'm not sure if this is a new mechanic or not, but you seem to be able to dodge attacks if you push down+A+B while on the ground.

Now don't mind me, I'll go back to whacking explosive balls around the screen with Half-Moon Style Kohaku...

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