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Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . While fans of the visual novel may get a kick out of seeing their favorite characters go head-to-head in a fast-paced fighting game, everybody else will be left scratching their heads. A port of a 2008 arcade game, Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code feels like a relic from the past. The graphics are bland, the backgrounds are dull and the fighting is basic. Worst of all, the story is impenetrable. Rating: 40%
Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code
Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code
  • Review Score:

  • C-
So there's this plane crash on a tropical island that can seemingly jump through time and space. There's an attractive ex-con who is caught in a love triangle between a nice guy doctor and a douchey bad boy, the fat guy thinks he's cursed, the dude with eyeliner hasn't aged in hundreds of years, there's a smoke monster and half the crash survivors are now inexplicably stuck in 1974.

If all this sounds confusing, then it's probably because you haven't watched LOST. Without knowing the story and characters, it was nearly impossible to jump on board several seasons in. You would be left wondering how Desmond gets unstuck from the timeline, who the Dharma Initiative is and why there's a polar bear on a tropical island. This complete sense of confusion is how I felt every second of my time playing Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code, a baffling new Steam release from Ark System Works.

Based on a series of visual novels from Type-Moon, Melty Blood is a thoroughly impenetrable one-on-one fighting game featuring a convoluted story and a bunch of characters with unpronounceable names. It seems the combatants from the first game have returned to Misaki Town to reenact their roles in the "Hologram Summer" event. They quickly discover that they are part of an evil plan to eliminating all life on planet Earth. At least, I think that's what is going on.

The truth is, every time I tried wrapping my mind around the world of Melty Blood, I ended up getting pushed further away with even more unanswered questions. This game doesn't come with an informative introduction or helpful guide to the backstory, it just expects you to know who these characters are and why they're fighting. But I don't. And I found myself utterly baffled by each and every story beat.

At first glance, I was impressed with the large roster of characters. With more than 30 fighters to choose from, I was ready to forgive the inaccessible story and get down to beating people up. But what I discovered was a boring selection of lookalike characters and two-person tag-teams. The selection includes a lot of school girls, vampires, creepy men and pugilists with supernatural powers. I have no idea how all this ties together, but I'm sure it makes sense in the visual novel.

Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

For as interesting as some of the characters look, I was disappointed by how pedestrian the fighting is. Melty Blood is the typical Street Fighter clone, where most moves are pulled off using a quarter-circle motion. You'll also find the typical half-circle rotation is common, as well as a Z-motion. With few exceptions, these are the moves you'll find across all characters, no matter the fighting style.

While much of the roster is underwhelming, I did like how many used military-grade weapons to fight innocent-looking schoolgirls. You'll see the characters whip out an assault rifle or rocket launcher, while others prefer blades. And it's not just guns and knives, one character carries around a heavy cello to get the job done. It would have been nice if everybody had a unique weapon to play around with, but the occasional gun does make the action more exciting.

With only three attack buttons, the gameplay feels basic when compared to other 2D fighting games. The good news is that each character has three different fighting styles, which will change the way you approach each match. The Crescent Moon style, for example, leans on speedy attacks, while the Full Moon style opted for power. There's also the Half Moon style, a simplified mode for new players.

Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Even at its best, Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code feels like a relic of the past. The one-on-one fighting is fine, but is boring when compared to other Ark System Works releases. The characters are small and stuck in a claustrophobic 4x3 window, giving it a dated look. I was shocked to discover this game originally hit Japanese arcades in 2008 and not 1998. To put it in perspective, this simple sprite-based fighter came out the same year as Street Fighter IV and BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger.

It doesn't help that the backgrounds are little more than still images of bland locations. With nearly 40 stages to choose from, this game opts for quantity over quality. You'll often fight in boring arenas staged in front of lifeless buildings. There are no people rooting you on or detailed animations to catch your eye, you might as well be fighting in front of a mat painting. I'm sure each of these locations has special importance in the visual novel, but they meant nothing to me in the context of this game.

That seems to be the theme of Melty Blood. If you like these characters and know their history, then you'll probably get a lot out of the story mode and background graphics. But as an outsider, it often felt like Melty Blood didn't want to let me in. Instead of sucking me in, the game's convoluted story and awful writing only pushed me further away. Even the endings are underwhelming, offering little more than a still image and more confusing dialog.

Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The good news is that the online matches seem to be working fine, although very few people seem to be hunting for virtual opponents. Despite running into some lag before the match began, the fights were mostly smooth and ran without a hitch. I also like that the moves are listed on the sides of the screen, more games need to do that.

The real argument for Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code is that, after nearly a decade, it's finally getting a release outside of Japan. This is something sure to delight fans of the genre who have waited for this anime fighter to head West. Unfortunately, the presentation feels horribly dated and the $25 asking price will scare off all but the most committed. Fans of the visual novels may find a lot to like in the arcade mode, but newcomers will be left baffled by the impenetrable story.
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