Saturday, February 18, 2012

BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend Limited Edition: Review with Pics

BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend Limited Edition (PS3):

What you see is what you get.

Note: This is not a review of the game itself. It is a review of the Limited Edtion contents.

I’ve been a fan of Arc System Works’ games since I played the original Guilty Gear on the PSOne. Since then, they’ve consistently made some really great fighting games (with the exception of the malformed terror that was Guitly Gear Isuka). I was more than willing to spend the extra 20 dollars that was being asked to both purchase and review their upcoming limited edition. Thankfully, though, Amazon sort of goofed and had the limited edition on sale for the regular 40 dollar asking price. Though Amazon more than made me suffer for the discount (more on that later), I am very happy that I ordered from them because I think I would feel very very ripped off right now if I hadn’t gotten this limited edition as a free upgrade.


Part I:
Thank you Amazon. After paying for 1-day shipping to ensure a prompt blog post, I was disappointed to see that my order didn’t ship until Thursday the 16th (a full 2 days after the game’s release). I don’t really think that part is Amazon’s fault, that’s probably the publisher’s fault. But what IS Amazon’s fault is the dented box I received. Why Amazon thought it would be a good idea to mail my box in a bubble mailer is beyond me.

Part II:
Where do I start… Do you guys remember when recyclable paper was first becoming popular? I remember it quite well because I used to absolutely hate it when anything was made from the stuff. Nowadays, that’s not as much of a problem, but back then, it was. Recycled paper always felt flimsy. It always felt cheap. It always looked dull. It always felt rough and too textured. Well, the box that this Limited Edition Comes packaged in feels just like that old recycled paper. It’s absolutely horrible.
There are other problems too. The box is too tall. I know this sounds nitpicky, but I greatly appreciate it when a box is designed to be able to fit on my shelf without being significantly taller than my other PS3 games. I might understand an over-sized box if the included goodies required the extra space or if the box design is exemplary enough to require more space (like the Soul Calibur V box), but at a size not even as tall as a DVD box, this edition’s content does not justify the box’s ill conceived design. Would it have killed the publisher to make the already small artbook just a bit smaller to create a better overall package? Apparently, yes. 
There is, sadly, yet another problem with the packaging. It has empty space. Part of the reason that I think my package was so easily dented was that there is about a quarter of an inch of empty space inside the box. Why is this there? Was there more planned for the set that was taken out? Is it made thicker to imply a more substantial edition? Is this a bait and switch tactic? I don’t really know. I do, however, know that it gives a bad first impression.

Maybe the artbook was supposed to be bigger???

Part III:
I know I’m being really hard on something as simple as a box, but when you pay a 20 dollar premium, you should get a premium set with premium packaging. This lazy box design is even more underwhelming when you compare it to Calamity Trigger’s FREE limited edition upgrade.
Calamity Trigger’s Free LE came in a box that was sized to match other PS3 games, there was no empty space to create the illusion of a bigger set, and the cardboard material used was of much better quality and with a glossy sheen. When comparing 20 dollar upgrades to free ones, the free ones should never win.

Right: 20 dollars extra, Left: FREE

The Artbook:

For a set that charged the exact same premium as the Soul Calibur Set, I was expecting a much better artbook. The artbook is a softcover offering that at best shows cool concept design work and at worst, fails to showcase the game’s completed artwork.  

Pad for scale = mighty small book.
The book comes in at a very slim 36 pages. About half of those pages have been reserved for concept art for the game’s new characters. This section of the artbook is a very welcome addition to the LE. The other half of the artbook contains general Blazblue artwork that, while nice, is poorly treated within the book. It has always been my impression that an artbook can exist for two reasons. One reason is to offer a glimpse into the creative process. The other is to show off the completed art. In this second respect, the LE’s artbook fails miserably. By packing 2 to 3 images of completed art onto each tiny page, we never get a chance to fully appreciate the quality of art being presented. 

Small, thin, and paperback. Could be much better.

Cool concepts.

More cool concepts.

Half the book has nice pics but too small to appreciate.

Full page images like these would've been better (there are only 3)

It would have been better if the artbook had completely removed the completed artwork and just left us with more concept work OR if they had used fewer pictures while giving them more attention on the page. As it stands, however, this artbook is not worth the price of admission.

The Calendar:

Small Calendar.

Even small when opened.

Surprisingly, the Calendar is smaller (when closed) than the already small artbook. Each month is treated with a character-select image of one of Blazblue’s characters. The calendar is nice enough for what it is but it’s not anything special either. I imagine that it’s the kind of small calendar that looks really cool in your cubicle but since I don’t work in a cubicle, I can neither confirm nor deny that statement. In short, it’s a nice functional addition, but it doesn’t really stand out as being particularly impressive in any way.

The Soundtrack:

It’s always bugged me that soundtracks in these sets never come in CD cases so that they can be put on the shelf were my music goes. It’s something I’ve learned to live with. LE’s usually put their soundtracks in digipaks, cardboard sleeves, or just put them in with the game disc in the regular box. They aren’t the most elegant solutions, but they work. Continuum Shift Extend’s solution is probably the worst I’ve seen for a Limited Edition. The CD comes packaged in a plain paper sleeve. It’s things like this that make this LE seem like such a slap in the face of fans. At least the artwork on the disc looks cool. 

A paper sleeve??? Cheap? Yep.
Cool disc art though.
As for the content of the CD, it has 17 tracks and sounds like what you’d expect from Blazblue. I’ve said it before and I will repeat it here. I am not a big fan of included soundtracks. However, if you are, then you’ll probably be happy with the included soundtrack.

Track Listing

If you can get it for the same price as the regular edition (like I did), then the value is definitely there, but I’m not reviewing the value of this set based on what I paid. I’m reviewing this based on what the publisher is asking for.
For being a 20 dollar premium, this set is 20 to 15 dollars too much. When you compare the quality of this edition with other editions that also charged a 20 dollar premium, it falls very short. The Soul Calibur V set, for example, is more on par with the kind of quality we’ve come to expect from a Limited Edition of this kind of pricing. 

Both of these sets are available for the same 20 dollar premium?
Worse still, when we compare this Limited Edition with the one for Calamity Trigger (a free upgrade), it still comes short. Calamity Trigger’s LE included a nicer box, a 2-disc soundtrack (in a bluray box), and a bluray with tips on how to be a good Blazblue gamer. Granted, this LE includes things that are more expensive to include, but the quality of those inclusions never justifies their pricing. If you can’t include a decent artbook, then why include one at all? Better to have included something that you could successfully do within your budget. 

Left: 20 dollars extra, Right: FREE!


For what you are expected to pay, this set is the biggest disappointment I’ve yet to encounter. I cannot recommend this set even to fans of the series.  Save your 20 bucks for another day and skip this Limited Edition.

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