Thanks to ARC SYSTEM WORKS for the review code
Title: Eat Beat Deadspike-san
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 03/22/2018
In this quirky sidestory game in the Blazblue series, Ragna’s darkness-infused Dead Spike attack gets a mind of its own after a failed battle with Hazama, and so it sets out along with its host to eat all the food it can in order to be stronger for the next battle! Laughable excuse plot aside, it does at least try to explain why a pretty unremarkable special mode from the Blazblue series suddenly is the star of the show, to say the least.
Being a rhythm game set in the Blazblue universe, this means that the music selection is the main star of the game here, and I’m happy to say that Deadspike-San contains a lot of high quality songs from Blazblue Central Fiction to choose from. While unfortunately there’s no Shinsou or any of the vocal themes to choose from, plenty of the major character battle themes are here in their CF incarnations, although it doesn’t contain every character’s song, so don’t expect Mu or Nu’s epic themes to be included in this game, along with other good songs like Jubei’s theme or any of the pre CF ones. There’s a good amount of tracks to choose from though, and they aren’t too terribly long either, so at least the song selection is solid even if there’s a few major songs absent.
When it comes to the visuals, the entire game is represented in the same crazy art style that the epic “Teach Me, Miss Litchi!” gag shorts used in Continuum Shift, and thus everything’s chibi looking and really goofy. While part of me kinda hates the fact that most Nintendo Blazblue titles have exclusively used this art style (Save for the 3DS port of CSII and the recent Cross Tag Battle) and it is starting to get a bit old, I do feel it works well here, since each of the character associated with their themes are portrayed in that style, and it leads to a quick and easy track selection screen. If you wish, you can also change the main character from Ragna to Hazama or even Carl and his robo-sister Nirvana, along with the sound effect for each successful button press, if the defaults drag on after a while.
Being a rhythm game ported from mobile phones, Deadspike-San can be played with the buttons and the touch screen, and both control options work well. However, one thing that you’ll notice right off the bat is that the game’s menus use the US Playstation button inputs when playing with the actual controller, which can take some time to get used to. This means the B button is confirm, the A button is the back, etc, and I’m not too sure why this layout was even used considering that the Japanese Playstation systems use the normal layout that Nintendo platforms used, and this wasn’t even ported to a PS system at any point, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Once you are on the song selection screen, all that’s needed is to select a song and difficulty (though you only start with Easy and Normal until you clear them both) and you’re off on your musical adventure! Each stage tends to last anywhere from a minute to over two, and the stages require you to tap the L and R buttons on the touch screen, or press the physical shoulder buttons in time with the symbols rolling on screen, either with a quick press, button mash, or holding it down, depending on what the incoming symbol is like. If you end up missing a symbol, you will take a bit of damage, and if you lose all your HP the game ends.
Luckily, you have the overdrive ability to use in a pinch, which can be set to auto activate when the meter fills up, or timed to use whenever you really need it. Once in this state, missing notes won’t drain your health bar, and successfully hitting them will actually heal it, coming in real handy on the Hard mode versions of certain songs. Clear the stage well enough, and you’ll be given a letter rank, corresponding to a certain amount of stars per stage, up to three. With that in mind, you pretty much have an understanding of how the whole game will pay out. Enter a stage, do well, get a rank, and work towards clearing all the songs with the max rank. Outside of some basic in-game achievements to hunt for, this is just a simple assortment of songs to play along to while improving each time.
In conclusion, Deadspike-San is an enjoyable rhythm spinoff in the Blazblue series. While not ever major character has a song representing them here, and the lack of vocal songs is immensely disappointing, the core game controls well and offers a variety of challenge for rhythm game fans. It’s certainly no Theatrhythm, but it’s still a very solid music game that will give you several hours of entertainment, especially if you want to aim for all of the in-game achievements.
The only real things I wish this game did outside of the obvious song selection improvements would be fixing the button layout and also allowing for DLC to be released for this game, as this is certainly a title I would gladly buy DLC for in a heartbeat, especially if the amazing Shinsou vocal theme or the themes of Nu and Mu were to be added. Blazblue fans curious about this title, you can check it out via a free demo on the Switch eShop to see if you like it enough to buy, and if you do, then I do think you will enjoy playing your favorite BB tracks in rhythm game form. For those completely new to the BB series and just curious about this as a normal music game, there are still some great tracks like Bullet Dance II to make even non-fans enjoy this game. I give Eat Beat Deadspike-san a 7 out of 10.