Melty Blood: Type Lumina First Impressions…or First Critique

I need to coin a term for fighting games like Type Lumina and Tekken 7 because something I’ve noticed about both of them is just how dumbed down the legacy aspects of their series are in these latest incarnations. They both feel one-sided for both opponents in a match: you get one jab and a 30 hit combo, then they land one stray jab and get a 30 hit combo on you, too. This creates a different focus on a characters moveset:

When Ryu performs a crouching medium kick, it’s typically to poke the enemy. It has great range and can be cancelled into any of his special moves, typically his Hadouken for a reliable and fairly damaging 2-hit combo. It’s, for all intents and purposes, likely his most useful mid-range footsies tool.

Now, excuse the lack of sprites since Type Lumina literally just came out and nobody has ripped sprites yet, but this issue is so general that I wouldn’t wanna choose just one sprite or animation to show anyway. In Type Lumina, autocombos are extremely useful. Keep tapping one button, and without much work at all, you suddenly just got a 10-hit combo that not only just let you damage the opponent, but also leaves you in an advantage: you’re standing and able to move, and the opponent is on the ground vulnerable to any of your okizeme (mixups on their wakeup). I’ll touch on what else this addition ruins, but at its core, it makes every move truly feel the same…besides range.

Range is your greatest tool when it comes to your normal moves in Type Lumina. Rather than having to balance long-range pokes and fast close-up rushdown that may frustrate or put fear into the enemy, making them do even rasher things that can be punished easily, your best friend is to be able to hit from a distance. Because when you hit from a distance, that’s a guaranteed autocombo when the game teleports them back to you. Not only is that damage, it’s advantage. In the end, every move leads to a 5-10 second long combo which heavily strikes the balance of your characters moveset.

Now, when I lay out this over-extended intro about the epitome of my issue with Type Lumina, it probably makes you think that I hate this game, or that I think it’s too easy and it sucks. But not only do I enjoy Type Lumina and find it extremely fun fighter that can also serve as an excellent gateway to get people into fighting games to begin with, it also warms up the point of my critique: Type Lumina is the homogenization I feared.

The autocombos and preposterous ease of use are heavy contributors to that homogenization that I already felt lurking in the shadow of Melty Blood Actress Again. But the difference is that MBAA has shakers. You not only have oddities like Sion’s bullet system and Shiki’s unblockable super moves, but characters like Nrvnqsr Chaos.

Chaos is, in my opinion, the definition of the aforementioned shaking. He isn’t very mobile with an unsafe dash (in a game where dashing is very important) that has him sink into the ground then rise a few feet away. His moves are mostly long, long range attacks using his Beasts that don’t lead to amazing or lengthy combos and have unforgiving startup. You don’t have to commit or focus on rushdown like you do with a character like Arcueid=Brunestud, ’cause you can sit back and chuck animals at your opponent. Even compared to Aoko, he’s an excellent zoner.

I didn’t tell you all that expecting you to immediately understand what it meant. It’s not an advertisement to play as Chaos, and it’s not a savior for his community notoriety. But when I tell you about how he works and plays, doesn’t he sound odd? A character who sits back and denies you trying to close space on him? One who doesn’t fight for himself, but rather has Beasts come out of his “Cage” body to attack you…what a bizarre specimen. Easily, in my opinion, the most creative character in MBAA… even if aspects of his portrayal are usually a little bit out of character.

With that all being said, Type Lumina doesn’t really have this. It doesn’t have a shaker that saves the characters from all blending together, only being separable by their actual characteristics. I’ll cut it short: everyone feels the same. You’re looking for the same things when you pick any character. It makes it incredibly easy for you to pick up and play a character just because “I think they look cool,” but also deletes any sense of variety.

There are bits and pieces of variety: Red Arcueid has a projectile, Tohno Shiki doesn’t. Saber uses a sword, while nobody else uses much weaponry at all. Noel has a slow overhead, Roa has a fast one. Everything I’ve told you is true, and they’re all points that make the game more interesting. Characters have differences, but it feels difficult to pinpoint when, in the end, most characters have similar sets of tools that lead to the same rewards.

Core fighting game necessities and natural occurrences still exist, of course. Mixups still exist. You can still jump in on someone when they were expecting you to attack low, and you can capitalize on that. But with things like the dreaded autocombos that can chop off around 1/7th of any characters health and hardly be worked around since every character needs them to combo in the first place, you have here a unique albeit almost braindead fighter. It’s arguably easier than something like BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, but doesn’t have a skill ceiling anywhere close to MBAA.

And I’d like to stress that ease of use alone isn’t my issue. I think Akatsuki Blitzkampf is an easy-to-learn fighting game, and I also think Karnov’s Revenge is an easy-to-learn fighting game. But the skill ceiling is there for those, and not there for this. I expect tournaments to be Sabers spamming their amazing heavy attack and doing the same combo over and over again, and that’s okay in its own Type Lumina way. But it isn’t the same Melty glory I was expecting, and definitely not the same Melty glory I wanted.

A few small complaints are mostly about the aesthetics: A lot of stages have the same atmosphere, hardly any characters have interesting alternate colors (while Saber has colors based off of Saber Alter, Nero Claudius, Saber Lily, etc. characters like Miyako get the short end of the stick), and I dislike the poorly distributed or thought out character dialogue. Matchups like Saber vs. Red Arcueid have incredible and surprising fanservice for both Fate fans and Tsukihime fans, but Ciel vs. Shiki (quite literally a senpai vs her lowerclassman) is about the same as if Ciel were to be fighting a complete stranger.

I’ll keep playing and I’ll probably keep enjoying Type Lumina. I don’t think it’s a bad game, and even after all I’ve said, the bottom line is that I have fun with it despite the flaws. And if I have fun with it, I enjoy it. I may write a sequel post to this critique when the dust has settled, but for now, it’s a wonderful anime fighter with its own merits that didn’t happen to follow up to my expectations as a fighting game player, a Tsukihime mega-fan, or as a Melty Blood mega-fan.

Sprites come from the SRK Third Strike Ryu page and the Mizuumi F.Nrvnqsr Chaos page respectively.

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