Melty Blood: Type Lumina Release Date, Steam Port, and New Features Announced
Those of you who have been following news about the newest entry in the Melty Blood series may have seen this blog post from me, at the end of which I said, “When any major updates for Melty Blood: Type Lumina drop, we’ll be back with more context and information. Stay tuned.”
Well, thanks for staying tuned, or for just tuning in. We’ve gotten some major updates, one of which was particularly unexpected, for the first new Melty Blood title since 2008… or 2009 if you count adding Current Code onto the end of Melty Blood Actress Again.
The Biggest News
Anyway, Melty Blood: Type Lumina was not expected to have a Steam port at the time of my last article about it. However, a new trailer came out recently and unveiled various facets of the game that were previously in the dark. The #1 headline in there is probably that the digital-only global release date, barring any delays, has been confirmed to be September 30, 2021.
To me, however, the Steam version is perhaps even bigger news than Type Lumina’s release date. I would have played the game whenever it came out. PC just happens to be my preferred platform, the only one I would have bought it for. Plus, PCs in general are gaining even more steam (haw haw) now that the pandemic is slowly dissipating in the wake of vaccines and graphics cards are slowly moving back into the realm of affordable.
I wanted to mention the Steam version early on in here because I specifically shouted out “ThinkPad players” in my previous article about the game. A huge chunk of Melty Blood’s player base makes their nomadic home away from home the laptop setups they set up on tables, chairs, garbage cans, sections of ground, floors, toilets, and Popeye’s parking lots. That’s another reason why Type Lumina’s Steam port is so important.
I don’t think that the game will be particularly taxing as long as your computer is from the last decade or so. And even then, it might still be playable on the same busted up old ThinkPad that’s been churning its fan to render fighting game characters for years and years. Plus, the game will also release on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The latter two will also be compatible with the newest console generation, thanks to Sony and Microsoft finally returning focus to backwards compatibility. The only somewhat worrying thing there is that the player base may be dispersed thinly among the four platforms, unless they later announce cross-platform play.
The Artsy News
Speaking of rendering characters, it looks like there’s been an increase in the quality of sprites since the first trailer, at least in my opinion. I feel like it’s only rarely that the reassurance that the game is a “work in progress” actually turns out to ring true once the finished product comes out, with the progress being tangible and positive. In other words, Cyberpunk 2077 trailers LOL.
But let’s not let me get distracted. Let’s instead look at the ways that the new Melty Blood trailer features Type Lumina’s excellent sprite work interspersed with what looks like drawn anime. I said last time around that “things look a little less sprite-like and more like drawn anime” but now – and maybe this is just because the new trailer is more full-screen than the last one was – character outlines and so on seem to have gone in a more familiar Melty Blood direction, at least before the supers come out.
Each confirmed character’s few seconds in the new trailer’s spotlight open with some sprite-based movement that ends in an anime splash screen with their name. Then we see them perform a decent combo, usually with a super at the end, often featuring some more anime in the background. This might put some people off, but I think it works well with the game’s style, given its visual novel roots and how good the sprites seem to be turning out.
The game looks and sounds excellent in motion. The combos, the intros, the supers, this random frame when I paused the trailer to type the above paragraph:
Even if you’re not big on anime fighters or anime in general, it’s hard not to appreciate the small details there. Kohaku’s smile, her closed eyes, her shoe dangling off, her flowing sleeves, her daintily upturned palm, the swoosh above her broom that may indicate the attack’s anti-air hitbox, and the satisfying animation of Shiki getting bent by her broomstick. Fantastic stuff.
Oh, and I love the backgrounds, especially the one with the fountains which we can see while Kohaku bops Shiki on the head, and especially when compared with those of earlier Melty games. Also, other outlets have reported that the game will have a palette editor that allows players to customize their sprites’ colors, but I haven’t been able to find an official source on that.
The New Characters
In terms of the central feature of any fighting game, only two new characters have joined the Melty Blood: Type Lumina cast through this trailer, but the maid twins are more than welcome. Nowhere else in my fighting game memories do I remember laughing and babbling with friends about how someone had just done “broom-sweep into meaty cactus.” I’m very much looking forward to learning Kohaku again.
It’s interesting that the writer on the Type Lumina website there (presumably reflecting the developers’ sentiments on the subject) specifically says that Hisui’s “fighting skills are not quite on the same level as her sister, but she holds her own well enough.” They’ve got to hope that the community tier lists that inevitably get created in the wake of any new fighting game measure up to that statement. However, it’s one of the few examples in fighting games I can remember of lore reflecting relative character strength. Oni in Street Fighter IV, as a brief aside, was supposedly the extra demon-y version of the already pretty demonic Akuma, but was actually consistently worse than his base form in pretty much all patches.
Kohaku was one of the best characters in Actress Again Current Code, in multiple of her Moon forms, so it’s a safe bet that the anonymous writer will be right. Her impressive array of weapons and apparent magical abilities set her apart from the rest of the cast, and likely give her the tools to be ranked above her twin in tier lists.
The starting roster is set to be rather small, with the most information we’ve got being that Melty Blood: Type Lumina will feature “More than 10 characters” on release day in September of this year. That’s not a big deal, as long as the base mechanics are solid and there’s a steady drip of DLC characters.
The Bonuses and Value
If you pony up an extra twenty dollars (or Euros, since the games will have the same price in the US and EU) for the digital deluxe edition of Melty Blood: Type Lumina, you’ll get the game itself and the “MELTY BLOOD ARCHIVES” – which includes both an e-book filled with art and lore, as well as a digital album of soundtrack music. I’ll stick with just the game, myself, but Tsukihime fans and longtime Melty Blood diehards will likely love this Deluxe edition.
Also, the early purchase (not preorder – just buy by October 27) bonus for now is an Arcueid voice pack for round announcements. This is similar to character announcer voice packs in Guilty Gear Xrd, but Arcueid may only chime in once the characters are already selected. Scroll to the bottom of the page linked at the beginning of this section to see that they say there will be early purchase bonusES, plural, and list just this voice pack. There may be a few more characters waiting in the wings, perhaps yet to be revealed, who will lend their voices to the pre-round speeches for those of us who will buy Melty Blood: Type Lumina in its first month.
Whenever you buy it, $49.99 seems like pretty good value to me, for what seems to be shaping up into a fantastic fighting game.
The New Features and Mechanics
The How To Play section of the Melty Blood: Type Lumina website features a treasure trove of information for us, at least in terms of mechanics. I couldn’t tell you everything that was added to that tab between the last time I was writing a Type Lumina article and now, but I can tell you that most of the gameplay systems listed there seem promising.
Moon Skill and Moon Drive seem to be the biggest new mechanical additions. Moon Skills are activated with Super Smash Bros. style direction + button combos, and seem to rely on managing the Moon Icon effectively. Moon Drive is activated by using all of one’s Moon Icons when you have more than one half full. It “temporarily boosts your Moon Skill,” whatever that means, and provides “various other effects” that I think will vary from character to character if my deductive reading holds up.
However, there is no word on character Moon versions yet, though this official screenshot showcasing Moon Drive has a crescent moon icon next to Arcueid. We might now start to assume that they’re not in the game, and that the cast will have only one form each. That would at least make learning matchups easier, if also making the small size of the roster a bit more of a disappointment.
Shield, Heat, Blood Heat, Arc Drive, Last Arc, and meter all seem to be quite similar to how they functioned in Melty Blood titles of the past. This is promising, since the trend in fighting games recently has been to overly simplify. I mention this to whoever will listen whenever it feels relevant, because I think developers who do end up simplifying their games for the sake of a few more casual purchases are making huge mistakes. The fighting game community is built on the backs of people who buy the new game, play it for a few weeks with their friends, and then move on. These more casual players are totally valid, but they couldn’t care less about the advanced combos, frame data, punish timings, hitboxes, charge partitioning, or other advanced mechanics. However, these features are what make fighting games endlessly engaging for hardcore fans and pros. As I said in the article linked in this paragraph, in trying to make these inevitably difficult games more accessible, the skill floor is rarely impacted all that much, and the skill ceiling often suffers.
It’s refreshing to see the Melty Blood: Type Lumina developers focusing on fine-tuning what makes their series unique, without homogenizing the cast or removing depth in a misguided search for a game that everyone will be able to play at a high level. Hardcore fighting game fans want to see games where the best of the best can display total mastery over the title’s systems, of the characters they play. Melty Blood: Type Lumina seems set to deliver with its mechanics, features, and the ability to play it on a laptop set up on a bathroom floor.