Today we look at Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code – recently released for PCs running Steam.
We’ve covered quite a few fighting games in the last few months that had their origin in Japanese anime content. Melty Blood’s story is similar, but different in an interesting way. Like some other games we’ve looked at recently, the series started out being based on a series of visual novels – if you’re familiar with the medium, then Tsukihime is what you’re looking for. The Melty Blood brand, under which a couple of games have been released already, are fighting games based on the characters from those visual novels.
What is interesting about Melty Blood is that the series came to be due to the efforts of independent developers who were fans of the visual novels – and over almost fifteen years the series has spawned numerous games now. Because of the independent nature of the work, it’s probably not surprising that most of these games were released for the PC platform, but the series has also appeared on PS2 and we believe there’s also an arcade version out there somewhere.
Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code is a bizarre title, but it represents the final chapter in the series. The initial games still had a lot of visual novel aspects in them, but as Melty Blood has evolved that seems to have vanished to the background – the fighting portion taking center stage now. Despite this, there’s still an arcade mode that has character-specific stories for each of the characters, but the cutscenes involved are quite short and largely trivial in nature.
What’s impressive is that the roster for Melty Blood features no less than 31 fighters (take that, Street Fighter V). The developers did well to make sure that there is plenty of variety, and the fighters seem to have characters and personalities of their own – no doubt inspired by the source material the series is based on. From a gaming perspective, it’s nice to know that each character can opt from one of three fighting styles as well, so there’s plenty of diversity on offer.
The basic fighting engine is well done as well. It’s not nearly as deep as Tekken or Street Fighter and not as refined as Guilty Gear either, but it’s a solid engine that delivers thrilling fights through the use of tight controls and an easy to master control scheme. The game favors a combo-centric style, but luckily it’s easy enough to master them. What helps in this regard is that a lot of character-specific moves are always displayed on screen as long as you play in a widescreen format. The main window where all the action takes place is in a 4:3 aspect ratio, with the rest of the screen reserved for portraits and the aforementioned move list.
The graphics in Melty Blood feel a bit dated, which is no surprise when you consider that the original Actress Again game was released ages ago for the PS2. The same can be said for the sound mixing, although both the audio and the video did receive a lot of love in terms of the detail that was put into them – including voiceovers and a lot of content in terms of animations and character art.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly who we should recommend this game to. If you’re a Melty Blood fan then you no doubt already had your heart set on this one – and you won’t be disappointed either. If you’re not a fan then there are better alternatives out there at the game’s current price point. That by no means implies that this isn’t a decent brawler, but it’s not as refined or ‘current/next gen’ as any of the recent BlazBlue games.