BlazBlue: Central Fiction arrives in Australia this week, bringing fresh mechanics and a host of new fighters to Arc System Works' unique fighting game series. What's it's not bringing, for the first time ever, is an English voice cast, and that's very unfortunate. When the first BlazBlue game, Calamity Trigger, came to Australia back in 2010, it brought a new style of fighting with it. Getting a handle on the game's technical depth took some doing, and I probably would have given up trying had it not been for the game's interesting story and the strange characters that participated in it.
What really helped drive the story home was the excellent English voice cast. In other fighting games, where story is less of a focus, Japanese and English voices are pretty much interchangeable - the choice doesn't make a difference. But BlazBlue is all about story.
The English voice actors telling that story sealed the deal for me. Specifically Philece Sampler, the voice of the endearingly annoying cat creature, Taokaka.
Her endearing and unknowingly insulting nicknames for the characters she encounters throughout the series really drew me in.
Central Fiction's story mode begins with an optional recap that lasts about a half hour.
With so much story to work through and the introduction of several new characters, doing an English dub for Central Fiction would require a monumental effort. Aksys wasn't up for it.
@aksysgames Basically boiled down to- game now w/ no dub. Game 6-8 months later w/ dub. We made a tough decision, but stick by it.
— Aksys Games (@aksysgames) August 24, 2016
Some fans just play BlazBlue to whup arse, and that's fine. But for a lot of folks, the story mode — which has just grown richer with each iteration — is a major draw. The mythos and the relationships between characters have been fleshed out in loving detail, and many among you would rather hear those thousands upon thousands of lines being acted out in English than have to read them.
And what a cast we've had…! I think our BB English cast is one of the best fighting-game ensembles in the genre, frankly. I'm not saying that as a self-aggrandizing actor, or as one who's bummed over the loss of a paycheck. I'm saying that as someone who, like you, has spent the last eight years with these characters — cheering their victories, mourning their losses, and understanding the world of BlazBlue more (or sometimes less!) with each new revelation.
TL;DR version: BlazBlue Central Fiction isn't getting dubbed. I'm sad about it, irate about how impersonally I found out, and not putting any particular stock in a dub happening after-the-fact (though I'd love to be wrong on that front).
After all this time, it hurts to be told that we're not so central to the fiction after all.
After spending a couple of days with BlazBlue: Central Fiction, I'm not pleased with the decision either. The charming and eccentric characters that kept me ploughing through a new, sometimes complicated combat system back in 2009 aren't nearly as charming and eccentric as they once were.
If you're just in it for the fighting, that's all there and then some. That said, if you're just in it for the fighting, you're missing out on some good stuff. I guess most of us are this time around.
BlazBlue: Central Fiction is available November 4 on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.