Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code | Review
Initial NA Release Date: April 19, 2016
Review Date: June 26, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Platforms: PC, Arcade
Visual novels in the world of fighting games are not uncommon as they are often a means to end with regards to telling a story, however, to have a fighting game spin-off an already beloved visual novel is something more so rare.
Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code (MBAACC) defies expectations, as it not only maintains proper portrayal of the beloved figures from the Tsukihime visual novel series, but showcases unique fighting game mechanics, and character versatility.
Presentation – Classical, yet dated. That is the dichotomy perhaps best suited to describe the game’s presentation. Considering, the property has undergone multiple updates with newly expanded iterations, its latest one in Actress Again Current Code, reaps both the benefits of a nostalgic look, but also lacks some more modern features.
Although not as sharp in comparison to its peers, the pixelated art style of the characters is by no means dull looking. However, where they are displayed in the most positive light is with their animations, as the smoothness of motion shows no loss in quality be it in combat situations, neutral situations, or even in an idle position.
Other animations such as blocking sparks, shield clashing, special attacks, and super attacks follow the same fitting smoothness of the characters, and do an excellent job of complimenting the overall art style.
The user interface is traditional in its approach, however, effective in translating real time information on screen. Aside from the timer and round counter, the top portion of the screen occupies two different color coded bars representing both the health and guard gauges, as well as an icon below the respective character portraits specifying their chosen Moon Types.
The bottom portion of the screen occupies the Magic Circuit, representing the amount of meter available to each character, as well as the unique Reduce signal which is displayed while taking damage from an opponent.
Battle cues on screen are also well executed, as they clarify specific actions be it defensively with EX-Shield, and EX-Guard, or offensively with showing critical and counter hit properties on certain attacks.
Rounding up the U.I. portion of the battle screen are the combination hit counter and damage value indicators which pop in and out respective of the situation at hand, and lastly the light aura which surrounds the characters during Max or Heat mode.
Akin to the overall nature of the game’s presentation, the main menu, and character select screen are quite simplistic, but efficient in their overall functionality.
The only real visual shortcoming of the game has to do with its stages, both in variety, and appeal, as many stages favor a blueish background, with no real movement or contrast, which is somewhat underwhelming considering the other lively features on screen.
Audibly the game is mostly a hit with its original soundtrack as it features a variety of orchestra scores, jazzy beats, rock n’ roll, and even some softer piano and keyboard numbers.
The few misses have to do with some odd tracks such as a constant car alarm in the background, or some that feature non-rhythmic and chaotic sounds. Though, unlike the original soundtrack, voice acting in the game does not miss much, as the cast is all equipped with fitting vocal performances successfully showcasing the characters’ singular personalities.
Additionally, the sound effects which occur during hit impact, a successful shield attempt, or even the activation of Blood Heat are also quite well executed in what is overall an audibly pleasing fighting game.
Although it whiffs on a few elements such as simplistic stages, and odd soundtrack choices, the game’s presentation is ultimately carried by its execution of excellent real-time battle cues, graceful character design and animation, along with befitting vocal performances.
Gameplay – If certain aspects of the game’s presentation can be categorized as old-fashioned, then Melty Blood‘s gameplay can also be categorized as ahead of its time.
Mechanically speaking, the game is not only deep within its array of options, but it is brilliant in the means which it applies them as well. The exploration of depth is nearly applicable to every facet of its gameplay, however, perhaps no more so true than with its character archetypes.
Each character in the game is able to pick one of three different unique playstyles in the form of Moon Styles. The contrasting Moon Styles allow each character to play distinctively different from one another, both opening the doors for one set of options, yet closing it on another.
The three Moon Styles are—Crescent Moon, Half Moon, and Full Moon. While there are many differences between the three, the simple explanation for the unique properties each Moon Style holds would have to do with its priority of a single trait or tactic.
Crescent Moon characters prioritize speed and offense exemplified with the ability to air dash cancel universal normals, having access to more meter, and the option to activate Heat manually.
They are also able to reverse beat, meaning they are able to link moves backwards, e.g., heavy punch into light punch, and maintain the combination chain without breaking, leading to longer combos and continued offensive pressure.
Half Moon characters prioritize defensive options, with less emphasis on speed and offense. While they are also able to reverse beat, they have access to less meter, but do possess an automatic Shield Counter which deflects any successful shielded attack, and allows for a follow up.
They are also equipped with the most amount of Guard Meter out of the three moons, and have the ability to halt the opponents offense with a defensive burst-like mechanic—Circuit Spark, being able to do so either manually in exchange for meter, or as an automatic activation during Heat.
Full Moon characters prioritize offense and meter, with less emphasis on defensive options or speed. They are unable to reverse beat, however, they are equipped with powerful single-shot moves for high damage.
They are also the only moon that is able to manually charge its Magic Circuit, and have access to a unique mechanic called Initiative Heat, giving them the ability to cancel nearly any move during MAX mode.
With as many differences in their options, the three Moon Styles are not only subjected to having different normal, special, and super attacks, but they are resigned to completely different paces of play, some which emphasize speed, some which target power, and some which rely on defense.
The individual mechanics in Melty Blood are quite robust, however, the universal options include three normal attacks, ranging in speed and strength which come in the form of light, medium, and heavy attacks.
The shield mechanic, which is akin to a parry, used for either stuffing opposing offense, or gaining more meter while defending. And lastly, the ability to activate a specific Magic Circuit utility depending on the Moon Type.
Offensively, the game features a wide array of options, however, some of the ones which are important to take note of include Heat—a timed meter expansion option which allows for red life recovery, the ability to use supers at a reduced cost, and opens up a powerful super move called Arc Drive.
Each Moon Type treats Heat differently, with Crescent Moon having the option to manually activate it in exchange for meter, Half Moon activating it automatically when reaching its meter limit, and Full Moon only able to activate Initiative Heat when reaching its meter limit.
Blood Heat is yet another expansion of the Heat mechanic, made available only to Crescent and Full Moon Type characters, which maintains all of the regular Heat properties, but also opens up access to a super called Another Arc Drive, which is an enhanced version of the character’s regular Arc Drive.
MAX mode is the unique meter property which affects all three Moon Type’s Magic Circuit, as it trades off slowly depleting meter, in exchange for the option to use Blood or Initiative Heat Activation, the ability to use the Arc Drive, and Circuit Spark. MAX mode is only triggered after reaching the meter limit, be it at 300% for Crescent and Full Moon Type characters, or 200% for Half Moon Type characters.
Defensively, while options are similar, the difference in Moon Type dictates their utility. Shielding is perhaps where this is exemplified best, as only Crescent Moon has access to EX Shield by inputting the shield command as an attack connects, which comes with the ability to gain more meter, whereas Half Moon can only use regular Shield with no option to hold it, and Full Moon is able to hold its shield, but cannot EX shield.
Shield Bunker is also made available to all Moon Types, however, it costs a different amount of meter, and has various reflect damage properties. EX Guarding, is the only defensive option which remains the same for all Moon Types, and benefits from more meter gain, in exchange for holding back as attacks are incoming.
Guard Break is also standard across the board, however, Half Moon characters do possess more Guard Meter. The Dodge mechanic, which allows a character to evade certain attacks is only available to both the Crescent and Half Moon Types.
The reduce function is available to any Moon Type, and gives the player the option to possibly reduce damage received during hit absorption, by imputing any normal command within a short frame window.
However, the game’s most powerful defensive option comes in the form of a counter super attack called Last Arc. It is only available to Crescent and Full Moon Types, and is triggered by either EX Shield for Crescent Moon, and instant regular shield for Full Moon during Blood Heat.
The game also implements mechanics such as various status ailments which affect the characters differently depending on application, and a unique trait tethered to certain super attacks which cause a Circuit Break, a state in which the opponent and seldom the user, is unable to build any meter for a short period of time.
Though, as mechanically deep the game is, both with the plethora of different defensive and offensive options, as well as with its unique character design established with the three distinct Moon Types, the information for learning these intricacies is not made readily available in-game.
Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code only features three offline modes, those being the standard versus mode, a relatively helpful training mode with some replay functionality, and meter adjustments, and lastly the game’s arcade mode.
While the game’s arcade mode is executed well with its ladder playthrough, the narrative is quite confusing, and not easily digestible for players who have either not played the previous iterations of the game, or that have no prior knowledge of the Tsukihime series.
Final Impression – When it comes to deep and intricate fighting game mechanics, Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code checks every box. The game not only features 31 different characters, but it arguably triples that number when considering the uniqueness of its three contrasting Moon Types.
Be it Crescent, Half, or Full, the exploration of the different Moon Types defensive and offensive options is not something that can be done in one sitting, which only further speaks to its amazing depth.
Aesthetically, while a bit outdated with menu layout, and stage variety, the character design and animation steals the show, and its overall presentation does not disappoint, both with its soundtrack, and vocal performances.
Although the arcade mode is not well designed for telling the overall story, it does give the player a slightly better understanding of who the characters are, and a closer look into their motives.
However, the game’s largest fault is its lack of a proper tutorial, or mechanical breakdown available in-game. Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code is extremely deep, and while that is attractive for fighting game veterans, it can be overwhelming for newcomers looking to learn the basics.
In closing, while it does whiff on a few minor presentation aspects, and one major gameplay aspect, the game is undoubtedly carried by unprecedented mechanical depth, which ultimately is king in the world of fighting games, and as a result, yields Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code a well deserved crown.
+ Superb mechanical depth
+ Smooth animations
+ Moon Types
– No tutorial
– Confusing story
Final Score – 9.4/10 Excellent