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Melty Blood: Act Cadenza
  opened by paleface at 06:31:13 12/21/06  
  last modified by paleface at 06:51:20 12/23/06  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Fighting; loc=JPN]
Well I'll be damned; "cadenza" is actually a word. I dunno about "melty," though.
Melty Blood started life as a PC "doujin" game, or something, I think. "Cadenza" broke through to the arcade, and then earned itself a PS2 port, and so here we are.
What we've ended up with is a fighting game sporting polished anime-style graphics, a large, bouncy cast, and a hyper-active, chain-combo-heavy fighting system. That sounds like three good things, but actually it's just one, if that.
While at first glance the graphics seem very well drawn, well, I guess they are, but they're also singularly uninspired. Most of the characters look like typical anime kids, wearing jeans and t-shirts, blouses, or sweaters of the simplest possible design. I guess they're supposed to look like typical high school students or something, but what they really look like are clones with no real personality. How many girls in schoolgirl maid (?!?) outfits can we have in one fighting game? (Answer: four.) Each character has a ridiculous 24 or so palette options, some of which go so far as to change their skin and hair colors, but these can't change the fact that the character designs themselves are really boring. Take a clue from King of Fighters (see entry 765) on how to come up with creative high school fighting game character designs, please! Oh, and the (low res) sprites are surprisingly small, too.
The stage backgrounds have a similar problem. They look nice at first, but then you realize that they pretty much all have the same pretty dark blue coloration, with very little in the way of detail, particularly animated detail, and some of them are actually lifted straight from other fighting games (I saw at least one that was a nearly exact copy of a Guilty Gear (see entry 108) background), only completely genericized and stripped of individuality. They are really tragically boring.
But at least the fighting system is zippy, right? Well, sort of. Most characters seem capable of stringing together long chain combos with ease, as well as double-jumping, whipping off a large number of special and super attacks, and generally spazzing out all over the screen, accompanied by flashy special effects.
This is nice and all, except that too many of the characters feel like they fight pretty much the same (ie, spaz similar chain combos until super meter is built up, then fire off one of your umpteen flashy supers that act pretty much the same as everyone else's). I noticed a few minor exceptions to this, such as the guy whose coat is kind of a devil thing that attacks and blocks for him, and the twin maid girls who can swap out for each other or execute special moves for each other, but despite these surface variations, for the most part the characters seem to behave too similarly to each other.
Oh, and don't look for some creative boss character (or two?) at the end of the game: there doesn't seem to be one. The very first time I played, at default difficulty, I beat the game in under fifteen minutes, simply chain-combo-mashing my way through opponent after opponent. They all pretty much fought the same (ie, stupid), and after a while I just got a short ending sequence, and the credits rolled. Wow.
So yeah, single-player is pretty much a loss. I haven't bothered checking the Survival mode, but I don't really see how it could be much better.
I can see multiplayer being a little more interesting. There does seem to be an interesting back-and-forth possible in matches, as the combatants trade off chain combos and counters. The fourth button (the others are punch, kick, strong attack, basically) is a charged block; holding it eats power meter, but it gives you an automatic counter if you're hit while it's active. Also, as you're being juggled, you can pound buttons to recover/escape, although I think this might eat a certain amount of power meter as well. The meter builds up on its own as you attack (at least I think it's attacking that does it). So while the chains/juggles can be fierce and frequent, if you're on your toes you should usually have a way out, and then you can come back with a chain of your own.
Soo I think some somewhat spazzy/mashy fun could be had against a human opponent here. It would be better if the characters didn't almost all feel like clones of each other (but hot super-deformed anime high-school clones! woohoo! right! woo?); as it is, I have a feeling that all but the most obsessed of fans will weary fairly quickly even of vs play.

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