Japanese developer French Bread recently revealed a new entry in the fighting game series that put it on the map: Melty Blood. I know, I know, but stick with me. This is pretty cool and a big deal for folks who live and breathe fighting games.
First, the nitty gritty: Melty Blood: Type Lumina is getting a worldwide release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch later this year. It will feature rollback netcode—a hugely important technology for making online fighting game competition feel snappy and responsive—and a new mechanic known as “Rapid Beats” that will allow newcomers and veterans alike to perform big combos with a single button. A group of four returning characters has been announced with at least six more total fighters planned for the final release.
Type Lumina, like previous games, is based on Tsukihime, a popular visual novel franchise in Japanese indie circles. Melty Blood first came to prominence in 2002, receiving several sequels and updates all the way up to 2011’s Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code. It’s long been considered a hidden gem in the fighting game community, earning respect for its fast-paced gameplay, fantastic music, and overall style without garnering the kind of audience one might see for a more traditionally popular series like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat.
That said, Melty Blood has maintained one of the more consistent scenes within the larger fighting game community. Some players often joke that they are so dedicated to the game and yet treated as such an afterthought by tournament organizers that they have to make do with whatever space they are allowed, even if that means playing matches outside. A classic tournament series known as Battle by the Gazebo, for instance, was named for a landmark in the public park attendees appropriated as a competitive venue. While the community largely believes the joke has transformed from an endearing quality to a borderline insult in the hands of non-Melty Blood players, it still stands as a testament to the scrappy, DIY nature of the scene.
Melty Blood has enjoyed a bit of resurgence over the last few years thanks to French Bread’s newer fighting game franchise Under Night In-Birth. Before the pandemic made it impossible for competitors to meet in person, the Climax of Night tournament series was the go-to destination for both Melty Blood and Under Night In-Birth competitors, and Under Night even found its way into 2019’s Evolution Championship Series. French Bread’s success with both Under Night In-Birth and licensed projects like Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax likely gave it the space and funds necessary to officially revive the Melty Blood franchise.
I don’t think anyone, even diehard Melty Blood fans, expected that a new game was on the horizon, let alone one that will launch globally. There’s no telling if Type Lumina will live up to the lofty expectations of its predecessors, but its mere existence shows just how quickly the fighting game genre’s presence has grown in just a few years. I’m super excited for veterans to finally get a new game to experiment with and for a new generation of players to be introduced to the Melty Blood series’ eccentricities. More fighting games is always a good thing!