When it comes to 2D fighting games, Capcom's Street Fighter rules. But for fighting game fans in the know, it is Arc System Works' Guilty Gear series that's best. In fact, for some, Guilty Gear is the greatest fighting game off all time.
Guilty Gear is long dead, a distant memory stuck in publisher limbo, but its spirit lives on in the superb BlazBlue series – what many consider to be Guilty Gear in all but character design and name.
Now with a foothold in the UK, BlazBlue continues to gain ground. Guilty Gear creator Daisuke Ishiwatari, alongside BlazBlue boss Toshimichi Mori, are currently hard at work on no fewer than three fighting games. BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II for the Nintendo 3DS and PSP, Arcana Heart 3 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and, whisper it, a super secret all-new BlazBlue game for home consoles.
Here, in an interview with Eurogamer, the pair explain the influences that underpin their oddball fighters. Read on for thoughts on character design, Kinect and more.
Eurogamer: Why is the Japanese fighting game community stronger than the western one?
Toshimichi Mori: Japan is a small country, and everyone speaks the same language, so it's easy to create a community to compete with each other. But in western countries, especially in Europe, people speak various different languages, so it's quite difficult to create one community to get everyone together to compete with each other.
Nowadays, some countries are still behind with broadband speed infrastructure. If it progresses then it will be possible to make online fighting a better situation and we could have stronger players than the Japanese players.
Eurogamer: In a 2008 interview you said you didn't believe reliable online play would ever be possible using current technology. Three years later, do you still believe that?
Daisuke Ishiwatari: It's still the same. The broadband speed nowadays is still not good enough for the perfect fighting game situation.
Toshimichi Mori: If a zero time lag online infrastructure is ready for online battle, then it would be the ideal fighting game situation. Now, it's still not possible.
Eurogamer: Will it ever happen?
Toshimichi Mori: Face-to-face fighting is the ultimate fighting game experience. Even though there is optic fibre broadband ready for all countries, you're still missing the face-to-face fighting experience. If in the future, like in The Matrix, people can plug the cable into the back of your neck to experience a fighting game, then it will be possible.
Eurogamer: I can't wait. When are you releasing that?
Toshimichi Mori: If we're still alive at that time.
Eurogamer: BlazBlue Continuum Shift 2 is coming out on the Nintendo 3DS in Europe. How have you recreated the visuals of the arcade version in the handheld?
Toshimichi Mori: For 3DS graphics, the first thing we thought about was to make it easier on the eye. So, there's not too much detail. When characters are moving you can just focus on the fighting by looking at the character, and you're not disturbed by the background movements.
Eurogamer: Why did you decide to make this game for the 3DS?
Toshimichi Mori: The main thing was to make BlazBlue available for more of an audience. Some people find the PS3 and Xbox 360 too expensive. But those people might have a handheld console. The 3DS is quite expensive, but buying a TV and a PS3 or Xbox 360 isn't something a lot of kids can easily get into, whereas most of them own or will eventually own a 3DS. It lowers the barrier to entry.
Eurogamer: Have you made the gameplay more accessible for the 3DS version?
Toshimichi Mori: On Continuum Shift we introduced a beginner mode, and a similar system called Stylish Mode is implemented on the 3DS version. If you press a button then you get to launch special attacks. But it's not an easy special. You don't just tap one button and then the special moves comes out. It's a middle ground between that system and playing normally. You still have to press buttons multiple times in order to execute combos, but it's not as difficult.
Street Fighter IV 3DS has an easy special attack launch button on the bottom screen. BlazBlue doesn't have that because we wanted to make it a pure fighting game and not too easy.
Eurogamer: You think Street Fighter IV 3DS is too easy?
Toshimichi Mori: Yes we do.
Eurogamer: PS3 and Xbox 360 owners want to know when a new BlazBlue game is coming for them. Is one in development?
Toshimichi Mori: We'd get booed if it doesn't release. That means yes. We're not saying when, but it will be coming out.