Everything We Know About Melty Blood: Type Lumina
Before esports, competitive video games were just that – games played competitively by the people who loved them. Often, just pride alone or paltry entry fees were on the line. Before corporate sponsorships and professional editors and memes and everything else we’ve become accustomed to, there was only The Game. Many incredible moments of skill vanished into the ether of memory before recording high-level sets became standard practice. But with shared passion, games could form lasting legacies. From Street Fighter II to Warcraft III, the classic multiplayer games of yore were not quite what we would call esports, but certainly deserve the legacies they have formed.
Few sub-communities embody this old-school shared passion and love for their game more than the people who keep Melty Blood alive. The grand prize could be a packet of stickers and an expired can of spaghetti sauce, but advertise a tournament for it and people will show up to play, Melty already booted up on their laptop. The series has been around since the early 2000s, as the fighting game based on Type Moon’s visual novel Tsukihime. We haven’t seen a new Melty Blood release since the 2016 Steam port of Actress Again Current Code, a game which originally came out in 2011.
Melty Blood: Type Lumina is set to release for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch (sorry, ThinkPad players – no word of a Steam port this time) at an unspecified point in 2021, as shown in this cryptic teaser trailer that mostly features super attacks. We can already see that things look a little less sprite-like and more like drawn anime. Whether that’s a good change is up to personal taste. This prequel is going to be based on the new release of the aforementioned VN, entitled Tsukihime -A piece of blue glass moon-. Now, I won’t even try to pretend that I understand anything about the plot other than that the dude named Nrvnqsr Chaos pronounces it like “Nero.” As goes the joke on many fighting game wikis, “lol anime story.”
A Legacy of Engaging Gameplay
What I’m really here for is the gameplay. And Melty Blood has always been top-notch on that front. It hits the sweet spot of easy to learn but hard to master. The Steam release of Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code (what a mouthful!) was my introduction to “airdashers” (the term you use if you don’t like saying “anime fighter”) along with Under Night In-Birth EXE: Late. These two (unbearably long) titles are on opposite ends of the anime fighter ground-air spectrum. UNIEL is often compared to Street Fighter for its emphasis on grounded “footsies” – whiff and whiff-punish gameplay – and its relatively committal airdash.
Melty Blood, on the other hand, allows for unmatched freedom in the air, and this will almost certainly remain in Type Lumina. You’ve got your fast airdash, your double jump, your super jump, your super double jump, and Smash-style aerial drift on top of it all. You can use both the airdash and double jump before hitting the ground again, allowing for some truly ridiculous neutral game interactions. Even with grounded normal attacks being unblockable by airborne opponents, and with hitboxes like this in the game:
it can be very difficult to anti-air opponents from the ground. And so, in Melty Blood, aerial counter-hits (which always result in hitstun that lasts until the countered player hits the ground or, more likely, gets hit again) and high-flying pressure strings are the norm. These are supplemented by punishing opponents for landing in predictable ways. One common way to do this is by dashing underneath their jump to be behind where they’re about to land, using an air-unblockable grounded normal, and transitioning into a dauntingly long combo.
Melty Blood also features three different “Moons,” or versions, for each character. Full Moon is likely to be the most familiar to players of other games like UNIEL or DBFZ, since it features traditional chain combos from light to heavy normal attacks, or A to C if you prefer that notation. Half and Crescent Moons, on the other hand and among other changes, allow for some crazy stuff called Reverse Beat, which allows for pressure strings and combos that go from C to A or from A to B and back to A, with the only caveat being that you can’t use the same normal twice in the same string. You can, of course, use standing A then either B and/or C and then go back to crouching A, or simply let the string reset and continue pressure anew. The sky’s the limit for combos and block strings. Another signature Melty mechanic is the “Shield,” which acts like a parry in certain other fighters, at the cost of a whiffed Shield attempt being highly punishable as well as lowering one’s Guard Break meter.
“Hard to master” may be an understatement, since I’m far from a Melty Blood master. I hadn’t played in a while (before I was between hearing about Type Lumina and drafting this article, anyway; MB: AACC is still super fun, even if some of these Wi-Fi warriors are absolute animals) and only got moderately “gud” back in the day. Luckily, the wiki is our friend, and there are plenty of YouTube videos out there that cover everything from the basics to the hyper-specific character-dependent optimal combos and so on. You may want to start with this video since these basics will carry over to Type Lumina. I highly recommend at least trying MB: AACC out; it’s cheap, fun, deep, and engaging. The netplay on the Steam release isn’t great, but there’s a community edition with rollback netcode out there to hold you over until Melty Blood: Type Lumina releases.
This Tokido quote after his Evo 2017 SFV win sums up how I feel about fighting games, and Melty Blood – as “poverty” as it might be – is an absolutely excellent example of the genre, at least in terms of pure gameplay. By learning how to choose the right moves at the right time after the right movement option, dancing with your opponent using your hitboxes and hurtboxes, you can turn pure intent into expression on the screen with the aid of a controller. Melty Blood offers an acrobatic twist on the traditional fighting game formula, a formula that truly is “something so great.”
A Memetic History
By picking up the game and thus becoming a part of the Melty Blood community, you’d be wandering into a fascinating subculture. As we touched on in the intro, Melty Blood diehards love, and I mean LOVE, their game. They love it enough to play it on laptops in bathrooms, or between two trashcans outside of the tournament venue, or with their butts pressed into and laptop sitting on the concrete.
This attitude toward venues is so ingrained into the Melty Blood subculture that CEOtaku, an event catered specifically to fans of anime fighters, featured this trailer for the 2017 iteration of its Melty Blood: Actress Again Current Code tournament. Even when they have a full ballroom, the Melty Blood player can be observed in its natural habitat: a parking lot of a closed fast-food joint. They had to be coaxed into the actual venue by Jebailey’s promise of fried chicken later. Ah, what a masterpiece of a Top 8 trailer.
Melty Blood’s legacy comes out of not just the great gameplay, often-low entrant numbers, and always-high player passion, but also the aesthetic of the game and even some of its move names. Tohno Shiki, one of the four characters confirmed for Type Lumina so far, features an exemplary move named “I’m Not Even Sure What this Kick Is (Flashing Dash + Six Fish)” which is… uh… not exactly as catchy as “Hadoken.” There’s also Yumiduka Satsuki, and I don’t even know where to start writing about her moves, so instead I’ll just take a screenshot of the whole list and leave it at that.
And now, let’s face it: there are a lot of people out there to whom “anime just means bad” – and I’m quoting verbatim a friend of mine there. I’m not quite at that level of being against a foreign culture’s animation medium, with a few of my favorite movies being the anime films of Kon Satoshi, but I wouldn’t be caught dead watching a shonen series or reading any manga. Still, anime fighters usually have awesome gameplay systems that promote exciting, fast-paced decision-making. And so, I inevitably end up sinking hours into even the ones I don’t exactly love, such as BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle. For many of us, the urge to learn new fighting games is like an itch that must be scratched.
I doubt that Melty Blood: Type Lumina will come out to be the next big fighting game esport, but I have no doubt that it’ll be tons of fun to learn, play, and watch.
This new Melty Blood, no matter the level of memery associated with its legacy, is poised to be one of the next big releases in the fighting game world. Capcom hasn’t exactly been resting on their laurels, since many people (myself included) are quite happy with the Season Five changes to Street Fighter V. Dragon Ball FighterZ is still pretty fun, but it’s lost a ton of steam since it’s release. (Pun intended; just check steamcharts.) Same with Granblue Fantasy VS., Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2, and UNIEL’s most recent version, UNICLR. All of these are great games, but with Guilty Gear Strive looking like it’s been rather oversimplified, I’m very much looking forward to Melty Blood: Type Lumina. It seems likely to hit that fighter learning itch, which for me has gone unscratched for a while now.
Who knows? Type Lumina may even become popular enough to be played on tables rather than toilets.
And jokes aside, the Evolution tournament series, one of the top dogs in the fighting game world, has been a lot more willing to let the anime fighters sit at the big kid table recently, with DBFZ, UNIEL, and GBFVS all earning slots in the mainstage lineup recently. Maybe “we esports now” … or will be, soon.
A Rundown of Features Added and Subtracted in Type Lumina
As more information comes out, we’ll keep you all updated, but for now, the game’s website has given us a decent starting point. Only four characters are confirmed by name. My old main Ciel is in, so I don’t have to worry. But fingers crossed for all of you reading for your mains to make it in too. My biggest roster hope now is that the beam-blasting Neco-Arc characters return. Since this is a sequel and not just a remake, it has been confirmed that not every legacy character will be back. But these crazy cats are of the utmost importance for 3 AM casual matches spent giggling and yelling “BEEEEEAAAAMMMM” at your friends. Fighting games aren’t just about that expression through virtual combat; we can’t forget to have fun and build bonds. The Neco-Arcs certainly help there.
Anyway, other than the aforementioned Tohno Shiki and Ciel, the other two confirmed Type Lumina characters are Tohno Akiha – Shiki’s younger sister – and Arcueid Brunestud… a vampire, of all things. But don’t worry – “She has no desire to threaten human society, instead hunting other vampires known as Dead Apostles.” Lol anime story, indeed.
Anyway, these four characters are Melty Blood staples. Sion Eltnam Atlasia, however, the original main heroine of Melty Blood’s story mode, will be absent since this game is a prequel to Tsukihime. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the Type Lumina roster shapes up, especially since I’m sure we’ll see a newcomer or two in the initial cast. For now, French Bread have confirmed that there will be “More than 10 characters” on release, with ten color variations each. Many less than Actress Again Current Code on both fronts, but that’s pretty standard for fighting games. Street Fighter V, for example, released with just sixteen playable characters. Even since the Street Fighter II days, which came out with just eight, new versions of fighting games have brought new characters and features. Of higher priority than filling out a huge roster is to make the game feel good, look good, and sound good, as well as to have deep and engaging universal systems.
We’re not yet sure if the Moon system is returning, but I’d bet on it. That’s another reason why the Type Lumina roster will likely be a little small on release, since each character is likely to have three variations that alter their move sets drastically.
One new feature that is confirmed is the inclusion of so-called “Rapid Beats” – and the similarity in name makes it seem likely that the Reverse Beat system will be returning – which are just the one-button auto-combos that we’ve become accustomed to in the anime fighter world. There are always naysayers out there who get uppity about auto-combos because they “take no skill, bro,” but rapidly pressing one button to be able to see what a combo looks like is absolutely fine. It allows newbies to compete, and the damage is always less than performing the actual moves that make up the auto-combo. As the meltyblood.typelumina site says, systems like these “Rapid Beats” allow “even players who may less familiar with fighting games to enjoy exhilarating battles.” [sic]
The third section in the How To tab of the site is also intriguing. Each character has their own story to enjoy. Sure, I’ve been a little down on the visual novel elements of Melty Blood so far, but it’s a fun little form of entertainment regardless of whether you have any idea what’s going on, and a welcome break from getting your butt beat by a dude who’s been playing Melty Blood since 2002. Time Attack and Survival modes are confirmed alongside the individual character stories, usually called Arcade mode. It’s nice to see fighting game devs who care about the single-player aspect of their titles, since those features have become less and less expected these days.
However, there’s no word yet on how good the tutorial will be, which is without a doubt the single most important single-player feature for any fighter. Only time will tell there, but I remember UNIEL having an excellent, comprehensive tutorial. Since they’re both French Bread titles and I’m sure they don’t to alienate newcomers to the series, my initial instinct is that Melty Blood: Type Lumina will likely have a solid tutorial mode. Only time will tell, and I’m looking forward to following up this piece.
Another small but welcome feature that we know for sure will be in the newest Melty Blood is one inspired by Granblue Fantasy Versus. French Bread have confirmed that Type Lumina will have unique dialogue based on the character matchups. Pretty neat. The Ken-Ryu pre-round fist bump in Street Fighter III comes to mind. I love seeing stuff like that. It gives the game more soul, the characters more character.
But here’s The Big One, everybody. As a first for French Bread, Melty Blood: Type Lumina is confirmed to have officially supported rollback netcode! I mentioned this earlier with the community patch of Actress Again Current Code, but it’s so good to see that rollback is becoming the industry standard. If you’re not familiar with why rollback is better than the alternatives like the old standard delay-based netcode, Gerald Lee of Core-A Gaming has explained it better than I could. The long and short of it is that this netcode plays your inputs immediately on your side, predicts the other player’s next input one frame at a time by assuming that the next thing they do is the last thing they were doing, and occasionally resets or skips frames of animation to keep the two players synced up. This tech is now in everything from the Fightcade arcade emulator to Super Smash Bros. Melee netplay, and I can’t wait for the day that other forms of netcode are completely obsolete. It’s great to see French Bread getting on the rollback train.
Melty Blood has a storied legacy. Type Lumina is shaping up to be an exciting addition to that legacy. It will certainly not have the kind of mainstream appeal that Dragon Ball FighterZ pulled, or the respect that Street Fighter demands, but I have no doubt that it will engender incredible aerial fights, allow for meaningful and exciting interactions, and will be fun to play both with friends and online. I’m very much looking forward to its release later this year, even if a sponsorship deal is likely out of the question.
When any major updates for Melty Blood: Type Lumina drop, we’ll be back with more context and information. Stay tuned.