“Arc System Works is a powerhouse, a hotbed for frantic, action packed, highly stylized and over the top excited gameplay!”
How did a game developer whom I hardly knew ended up among my top three companies in the business? Sitting right next to gaming giant Nintendo and Ubisoft, Arc System Works (ASW) has become a dominant force in the video gaming landscape, and one that holds the candle, being the very best at what they do. Starting way back in the dark ages of 1988, ASW, or Arc Co. Ltd. as it was registered at the time, consisted of a hand full of developers hailing from the stables of SEGA. But it wouldn’t be until 7 years later that they managed to publish their first title, Exector, for the Sony Playstation. The following years would see several games being brought to market, including the first Guilty Gear in 1998. Slowly but surely Arc System Works managed to build an ever expanding library of games whilst acquiring publishing rights for renowned series, but it wouldn’t be until a decade later, 2018, that they managed to appear on my radar as a game developer I would have any interest in. And that too, in the form of a demo, for a game called BlazBlue CrossTag Battle. Having no prior experience or knowledge about the BlazBlue franchise, I was interested in what was presented on screen, yet not at all convinced by the characters or any potential back story to their ends. Working as a video game reviewer quickly changed this as within mere months ASW opened the floodgates to the public with an extensive list of original games, each a masterstroke on an ever increasing canvas.
Episode I – BlazBlue CentralFiction Special Edition
“A true masterpiece in every single way！”
I delved right into the rich history of the BlazBlue universe for the first game I managed to review coming from ASW and emerged as a genuine fan of not only the series as a whole, but simply of the developers. Technically I did run through the Dragonball Fighter Z demo for as much as I could, running off Chinese web servers, but since I regarded that game a Bandai production it didn’t push over Arc System Works anywhere as close to the way BlazBlue CentralFiction Special Edition managed to do. As it turned out, I regard my review for the same to be among the best video reviews I have made thus far, in large part due to the sheer enthusiasm I was – and still am – filled with by this title. Obligations, personal and professional aside, I managed to put in 40 hours of in-game time for the purpose of review alone! The artwork, deep story line, graphics, music, character design, voice-overs, 2D fighting mechanics, RPG elements, local and online dueling, and unlockables, put to display the creative powerhouse that is named Arc System Works. As a gamer, manga reader, anime lover, it doesn’t really matter from which background you look at it, it is a true masterpiece in every single way – and yet, this was just the starting.
Episode II – WorldEnd Syndrome
“Dozens of hours in this magical world at Mihate Town.”
I am a positive bookophile, I simple am! From the day I started earning on the side whilst going through my studies, I have spent more than I dare count on books, ranging from Architecture to Art, from History to Poetry, Novels, Linguistics, Philosophy, Design, Biographies, Travelogues, an occasional comic, a well curated manga series, but never did I buy into graphic novels. For some reason they just fell off the map. The idea of reading a novel, yet making it graphical, felt a little like a compromise, somewhere midway between an manga and a novel, I mean, why bother really? And then ASW dropped their latest title, WorldEnd Syndrome, a graphic novel indeed. Admittedly I am still going through the intricate web of story elements, enriched by the colorful cast with exciting and excited voice-overs, crisp graphics and a plot and gameplay setup which makes it hard to put down even after an extended period of play. So while I haven’t quite reached the bottom of the pit, it is a title that has exposed me to a world I had hitherto dismissed to the realm of ‘not interesting to me’. In all fairness it could be the fact that it is poured into a video game setting rather than a straight up read, it might very well be the case, but for what it is worth, the game in and of itself is brilliant. Moving away from the fast-paced 2D fighting mechanics of BlazBlue and instead slowing things down to an almost standstill felt like the perfect way to move forward and I have spent dozens of hours in this magical world at Mihate Town. Yet, with an announced so called Spring update in the works, the gears slowly started to rotate once more.
Episode III – BlazBlue CrossTag Battle
“Tag-teaming (…) a genius move on the part of ASW and a jewel in their crown! ”
The demo was good, but really only the very tip of the ice berg. An ice berg which – especially after all released DLC and Spring update – is massive! Where the game originally started out with four franchises, BlazBlue, Persona, Under Night In-Birth, and RWBY series, this latest release expanded the roster to include a fifth branch, Arcana Heart! Being a big Super Smash Bros fan for as long as the series has been running, CrossTag Battle feels like a perfect addition to the line-up of favorite fighting games executed to perfection. Really, in games such as these what it all comes down to is balance. Balance, balance, balance. The characters, the stages, the music, the gameplay, model scaling, but most importantly, the move sets and compatibility, something Masahiro Sakurai has devoted most of his adult life to, pushing himself and his team to the edge and over in an effort of perfecting the balance in Super Smash Bros throughout the years, culminating in SSB Ultimate exclusive to Nintendo Switch. BB CT Battle stands its own and managed to impress me wildly, which is a big deal, as most of the fun of playing these multi-layered crossover games comes from the popularity of and love for the characters, which, as a Nintendo born and bred through and through, puts a game such as SSB to the very top of the list, yet having only gone through BlazBlue CF prior to playing through CrossTag, I was only familiar with that franchise alone.
Searching the web, pulling up fan pages, official websites, anime clips, video footage of previously released games, quickly put me up to speed as to the backgrounds of the other series involved and I did in fact fall in love with the game. Sure enough, the gameplay mechanics are rather simple, from a mere technical perspective, coming off the mainstay BB CF experience, which without a shadow of a doubt, is one of the most technically extensive and difficult fighting games I have played in my life, having played through the likes of Street Fighter, Soul Calibur, Dragonball Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Pokken Tournament, Guilty Gear, and King of Fighters. But it is the mechanic of tag-teaming which brings this game to the fore and makes me coming back for more every so many days. It is a genius move on the part of ASW and a jewel in their crown! And yet, there was more in store, as a mere four days after receiving the BlazBlue CrossTag Battle review code, another one showed up in the mailbox, Alternate Jake Hunter: DAEDALUS The Awakening of Golden Jazz.
Episode IV – Alternate Jake Hunter: DEADALUS
“Enter DEADALUS! What more needs to be said?”
I like jazz, I like jazz a lot in fact. There’s nothing better really than to ease down, take a breather with a little bit of those magical melodies, as trumpets, pianos, trombones, basses, drums and guitars break it down and enter your subconsciousness. As a book lover, one of my all-time greats, is and forever will be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His persona in the form of Sherlock Holmes, deducing and rationalizing each and every case, brought, much to my delight, through the eyes of respected Dr. Watson, countless hours of exciting puzzle solving and detective efforts. Enter DEADALUS! What more needs to be said? I mean, we have all the ingredients right here, ASW, which has proven themselves to be a competent developer and publisher, both in the fighting genre and graphic novels, being masters in terms of musical composition, and a love of jazz and detective works.
That is a recipe for success, and Alternate Jake Hunter does not disappoint! Once more a title has been published that manages to intrigue and keep you going back for more. Sure enough the game comes of a popular series, but being new to the same, I enjoy each and every minute spending problem solving, cultivating trees in my mind orchard and interacting as I run through the various locations the game has to offer. And with the sweet tunes of jazz, every now and then uplifted by a sudden urge as the music spikes following suspense in the plot, the next game in line from the stables of ASW was sent to me a mere week later, going back to where it all started, Guilty Gear!
Episode V – Guilty Gear & Guilty Gear Accent Core Plus R
“ That one-hit K.O. (…) that’s just brutal!”
How did I never hear of this game until only recently? Being nursed with the NES and jumping over to the N64, we did in fact own the very first Playstation, and among the list of games we poured countless hours in was Tekken 3. The latter being released in the same year as the first Guilty Gear game, I am still scratching my head as to how I missed out on that one. But due to the success of Nintendo’s latest console, the Nintendo Switch, and having established a fan base on the platform with the previously released games, ASW felt confident re-releasing some of their most popular fighting games in Guilty Gear and Guilty Gear Accent Core Plus R, two juggernauts in the 2D fighting genre. If you have never picked up either of these two games and think that Street Fighter is the way to go, I dare you to try any of them. In fact, being familiar with such titles almost ensures you’ll be able to pull of just about any combo or move in a Guilty Gear game, something that really works in their favor, but the GG series has so much to offer! As a precursor to the BlazBlue universe, one can expect similar levels of character design, story line development and overall look and feel of the games. There’s just that thing about that one-hit K.O. though… I mean, that’s just brutal. The wondrous thing really is, that both games remain relevant to this very day! And just when you think ASW is getting ready to roll out some more of their backlog, KillLaKill appeared!
Episode VI – Kill La Kill IF – The Game
“Kill La Kill manages to offer something new!”
What is better than watching a high profile anime series? You guessed it, playing a high profile anime series! Forget your Dragonball Z, Naruto, Bleach, Yu-Gi-Oh, One Piece, or Jump Force, the next item on your list should be Kill La Kill! From the first notes blasting through the Switch’ speakers upon entering the main menu, till your first landed hit, and from the action packed scenes to the point of stripping down your opponent, this game is fantastic! Following the fully versed anime you fight your way through the story, switching between various opponents, tying together magnificent combos, all with an edge as sharp as a blade – or scissor! One thing you can count on in any fighting game developed or published by ASW is artwork, and loads of it! Typically put behind in-game currency it’s worthwhile unlocking these beauties and drooling away whilst flipping through them, and Kill La Kill manages to offer something new in that regard, giving you the option of creating scenes, or dioramas of your favorite characters, full-fledged three dimensional, unlockable expressions and poses, bringing the heroes of your newly acquired favorite anime to life! I guess the only thing missing here is a toys-to-life tie in. How awesome it would be to have some of these figurines on my desk as an Amiibo, or otherwise usable action figure! I guess at this stage it would probably be best to get back into my Starlink ship and blast off.
Arc System Works, the Backbone of the Fighting Genre
At this stage it is but obvious that ASW is here to stay. They have the experience, they own the franchises, they are hot at stages like EVO, and they have plenty in store for all of us, ranging from 2D fighters to Graphic Novels like you have never seen before. Out of my almost 100 Nintendo Switch games, each one of their recent releases, all seven as discussed here today, rank among my top 20 most played games, and hold a special place in my heart, on my YouTube channel, Twitter page, and video gaming blog. Arc System Works is a powerhouse, a hotbed for frantic, action packed, highly stylized and over the top excited gameplay, who know how to create a ‘complete package’. If you, just like I was but some months ago, are new to this video gaming Mogul, I implore you to reach out and pick up any of their titles for you will not regret it.
#ArcSystemWorks #SwitchGameReview #NintendoSwitch #Nintendo
Kindly note that for all Arc System Works games review codes were provided by Arc System Works, developer and/or publisher of Guilty Gear, Guilty Gear Accent Core Plus R, BlazBlue CentralFiction Special Edition, BlazBlue CrossTag Battle, WorldEnd Syndrome, Alternate Jake Hunter: DEADALUS The Awakening of Golden Jazz, and KillLaKill IF The Game for the Nintendo Switch.
More Nintendo Switch game reviews coming soon, stay tuned!
Check out the developer’s website here: https://arcsystemworks.com/
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