BlazBlue: Continuum Shift is the update and continuation of last years masterpiece, BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, this little gem was crafted by the brilliant minds at Arc System Works. Fans of the original or fans of the Guilty Gear series will no doubt want to purchase this, if for nothing else at least for the story mode, you have never experienced a deeper or more complex story in a fighting game
You will get a lot for your $40, newly added Tutorial Mode, Challenge Mode and Legion Mode from the portable version are present. The tutorial is a great place to learn the basics if you are new to BlazBlue and it is the best way to learn the advanced techniques as well. The new challenge mode is pretty much like challenge mode in SFIV and SSFIV. There are 10 challenges per character, each challenge is comprised of several different tasks though, once you get to the advanced combos for a character of your liking it could take you a very long time to clear the challenges. These games are easy enough to play at a casual level but it will take a lot of patience and skill to hang with some of the people you will meet online.
There are 3 new characters right off the bat, Tsubaki is a Valkyrie of sorts, fights with sword and shield and has a drive attack that charges her moves for added strength, she is a very simple character to use and I would recommend her to newcomers. Hazama, better known to veterans as Terumi, is another story. Hazama is tricky but unbelievably good, his drive attack sends chains out at his opponent both for attacks and to rapidly close the distance between players. He is fast, dangerous and unpredictable...and also serves as the final boss of arcade and Story mode for most characters. Lambda replaces Nu as the Murakumo unit in this game, hardly any difference. The true form of Noel Vermillion is also a playable character but I have yet to unlock her. As of now there are at least 3 more characters planned as DLC. Makoto, a...foxie lady (excuse the pun if you get it) that uses tonfa, I have only seen clips of her and have no idea how she plays. Valkenhayn, Rachel's butler and one of the Six Heroes, will join and I can almost guarantee that he will play like Slayer from Guilty Gear. Platina (Sena and Luna) is another future character, due to her split personality I expect her to be like A.B.A. from Guilty Gear.
All characters have a robust, branching Story Mode that will take you many hours to complete. The story picks up right after Calamity Trigger's True End, there is a brief summary for those that didn't play the original. Japanese and English audio are present and accounted for, thank goodness. Online returns of course, you can once again save and upload replays of your best matches if you so choose. There are a few new stages, a few new songs and sadly, a new announcer...not nearly as funny when she says Rebel 1, Action! The character portraits have all been redrawn and they look AWESOME, more like Guilty Gear art and less like anime. The sprites seem improved too, at least Ragna and Hakumen seem to have a few more frames of animation and slight color differences, all welcome changes. The gameplay is top notch, if you like high flying, air dashing combo-laden madness then BlazBlue is 100% for you.