BlazBlue’s cast has won acclaim from players and critics for one key reason – it’s incredibly diverse. With the exception of Guilty Gear, I think the distinctive roster is something that few fighters can match. Each character is genuinely unique with their own systems and quirks. I like to think of learning each character as being its own game. Something to explore and to master where skills with one character are not necessarily transferable to another.
There’s a good reason for this – the amount of work that goes into character design is phenomenal – and a huge amount of time was spent in crafting each fighter.
Hakumen was the first character to come into existence mainly because Toshimichi Mori, producer, had the idea for him when he was still in school.
On paper, the character design process took over a year. Arc System Works has a very open philosophy when it comes to idea sharing. Everyone is allowed to have their say, or have an opinion (Tager for example was the work of body-building enthusiast on Arc’s team) and there were many debates about which characters should stay and which should go.
A great number of characters were developed and then dropped in the selection process. Despite looking like they would be more than comfortable on the main roster, these designs are actually for non-playable characters! You might notice certain elements that seem familiar though…
Here are a just a couple of the early Nu-13 concepts, which demonstrate quite clearly how broadly each character is looked at in terms of potential style and also how many revisions a character could potentially go through!
Good character design amounts to more than a fighter that looks cool. This is a key point that Arc really understands and the design process goes beyond aesthetics and fighting style. Mori and his team did extensive brainstorming on all the characters – going as far as deciding what their likes and dislikes were, their personality, and their hobbies. These details are carefully layered into the artwork, giving life and depth to who these fighters are, and the role they play in the overarching BlazBlue universe.
With character design complete – the details are ironed out in meticulously. These documents for Litchi and Arakune detail explicitly how Arakune’s insects look and behave and how Litchi’s clothes should be detailed, look, move and fold…
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend comes out next week in North America and February 22 in Europe. Arc System Works gives us a look at how they animate characters in Part 2.