Melty Blood: Act Cadenza (Japan)

Year: 2006
Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer: Type-Moon/Ecole
Web Site:
Genre: Fighting
Review Date: 9/3/06
Rating: **

Another Japanese fighting game with a delightfully nonsensical title. Similar to the "Queen Of Heart" games, "Melty Blood" started as a doujinshi fan-made game. However, it became so popular that it was converted to a Naomi-based arcade game, and then ported to PlayStation 2. As a 2D animated fighting game, it's solidly mediocre. The character animation is smooth, the controls are quick and responsive, and the visual effects look very nice. The music is generic and instantly forgettable, and while the stages look attractive, they're overly static. The game features the standard arcade, versus, survival, and training modes, and the overall package is nicely presented. Almost all of the menus and options are in English, which makes the game extremely easy to pick up and play (as long as you remember the standard Japanese button configurations for "accept" and "cancel").

What makes or breaks a good fighting game are the characters, and "Melty Blood" takes a few tips from the "Guilty Gear" series in terms of outlandishness. The game features nineteen playable characters made up of thirteen young girls, five males, and one female looking android. Being a huge fan of female fighting games, it's always nice to see the girls outnumber the boys. This is particularly common and popular in Japan, but most female dominated games never seem to make it to the ultra-conservative and politically correct shores of America, which continues to baffle and sadden me. And with "Melty Blood" I question why there are male characters at all since they're so out of place with the rest of the game. There's a considerable amount of back story and character development in the game which is presented in Japanese and is totally cryptic. There appears to be some references to "Through The Looking Glass", and several of the characters have both "good" and "evil" versions. I haven't figured out the relationships, but it's an intriguing approach. Another unique mechanic in the game is that one of the characters you can select is actually a tag-team of two of the other characters, which mixes up the gameplay in an amusing way.

Overall, as a casual gamer I found "Melty Blood" to be just as enjoyable as similar games like "Guilty Gear," "Queen Of Heart," and "Asuka 120% Burning Fest." The colors are bright, the gameplay is fast, the characters are cute and engaging, and the presentation is slick and serviceable. I also have to give kudos to the fact that the "easy" setting is actually easy. It seems that the prevalent attitude in the video game industry is to keep making games harder to play, to the point where some games aren't even playable on the lowest difficulty setting. This does nothing but frustrate and alienate potential customers. Afterall, games are supposed to be fun, right?