Melty Blood is truly a game that can claim to have a cult following. Based on a visual novel, Tsukihime, Melty Blood has come from the very bottom of its humble beginnings to the heights of being one of the main stage games at Evo 2023. Therefore, there aren’t many better times to get into the game than right now, and to help with that, we have this beginner’s guide for you.
Melty Blood: Type Lumina was released in 2021 and followed the Tsukihime 2021 continuity meaning that some old favorites are nowhere to be seen, but in their place, we have some new mechanics and gameplay that go at breakneck speed.
Melty Blood has a special place in the hearts of the anime-fighting game community, and we might just be on the verge of a resurgence in popularity for such titles.
…A Brief Introduction
So, what is Melty Blood: Type Lumina all about? Well, that might be a tad difficult, considering Melty Blood has a complicated plot spanning several titles. But suffice it to say that we have a protagonist who has the uncanny ability to perceive death, and this makes him the perfect individual to fight against supernatural beings who threaten the existence of humanity. With the help of friends and comrades, he battles to bring about a happy ending for all. That was an oversimplification, but you’re here to learn about the game, right? Let’s talk about that for a bit.
Melty Blood: Type Lumina is what we would label an ‘easy to learn, difficult to master’ game. There are enough mechanics that make things easier for newbies, but as you delve deeper into the game, you will realize the numerous intricacies that make the fights as exhilarating as they are.
With all the things mentioned above, we can now look at individual aspects of the game and unpack them for you. First, let’s talk about movement options. It is important at this juncture to clarify that this is indeed an anime game. This is important because movement in anime fighters is slightly different from in traditional fighting games. In games such as Street Fighter or Tekken, movement is a lot slower and is forward and backward, with a strong emphasis on space control dictated by movement. In those games, you can also jump, but that is about where it ends. In MBTL, you have access to all these movement options and more.
Speaking of the basics, you can move forward and backward like any other fighting game but also dash forward and backward. This is where MBTL gets unique in that your back dashes are a tremendous defensive tool as they have some invulnerability meaning it is perfect for taking evasive action. Beyond that, you can also jump, and the jumping aspect of the game is interesting. So, you have the regular jump, double jump, air dash, and super jump. Each of these actions are, as the names suggest, with the double jump ensuring your character jumps higher while the air dash allows your character horizontal mobility after a jump. The super jump is a large jump that can cross the length of the screen.
Furthermore, there is a lot of flexibility in the air in Melty Blood, and a double jump does not preclude an air dash. Therefore, you can double jump, then air dash, or even jump, air dash, then jump again. This also works a bit with the super jump in that you can do a jump and then a super jump or an air dash and a super jump. However, you cannot jump, double jump, and then super jump. It should also be noted that the super jump in this game is purely an offensive tool meaning that you cannot super jump backward, as it would not work. All this gives the player a lot of options when it comes to space control.
It doesn’t stop there, as Melty Blood: Type Lumina also features a jumping control scheme. This means you have a lot of say in how far and long your character jumps. For instance, if you are standing right in front of the opponent and jump, a quick tap of the forward (→) button would normally cross up your opponent, but in Melty Blood, it will simply inch you ever closer to the opponent and will leave you standing in front of them which could be really helpful for confusing the opponent and opening them up. On the other hand, if you press the forward (→) button generously, you will jump over the opponent and land on the other side. This way, you can keep the opponent guessing and oblivious to your plan for victory.
The next thing we'll need to look at is basic offense. How do you go about attacking your opponent in MBTL? Well, like with most anime games, it has a unique attack scheme. MBTL is a 5-button game with A, B, and C representing weak, medium, and heavy attacks, respectively. The D button is for the universal shield mechanic, and the E button is a macro that allows for some types of moves when mapped correctly.
The typical sequence of attacking a player in Melty Blood usually involves chaining A, B, and C attacks together. But, the game goes further by allowing players to use any variation of attack they please. This means you can do an A→B→C combo which is light into medium into heavy. You could also do C→B→A or B→C→A, and it will chain together seamlessly. This is unique as very few games give players this option.
On top of that, Melty Blood has auto combos that can easily be woven into your playstyle. An auto combo will usually involve mashing one button and getting combos out of it. How that works here is that you can chain a normal combo and then tack on an auto combo after that. To trigger the auto combo, you just need to press the same attack twice, and you will go into it. So, if you go with C►B►A►A, you'll get an auto combo. To be sure, auto combos are not the most optimal, but they are somewhat baked into the game's fabric and are useful in any setting, including the competitive space.
In addition, it should be noted that some normals and specials can be held, giving them different properties. For instance, if you were to press the C button, you would throw out an attack as normal, but most characters have the option to hold C and then release it. When released, the attack changes some of its properties. For some, it becomes an overhead or could even 'guard break,' causing your opponent to think really hard before simply blocking a combo.
On top of that, you also have launchers. This is important because, for MBTL, every character has a launcher. If you press ↓→C, you will get a launcher from which you can either start or continue combos. This is great for combo structure as it gives you more options besides grounded combos.
So, let's talk about throws a little bit. In any other game, throws are effective but are something of a stand-alone. For instance, if you were to throw someone in a traditional fighter, you simply do the move and then go in for extra pressure or something. However, in Melty Blood: Type Lumina, you have something a little different: you can throw a character, get a wall bounce, and then launch into a combo. This is great as it gives you different ways to play and ensures that throws have a little something to them. In this game, you cannot just 'take the throw' as it could also lead to so much more.
This does mean that there are no traditional grapplers in the game, and that is a shame, but it's a small detail we can all get over.
Beyond the combos, throws, and launchers, you also have special moves and supers, but we'll talk more about the latter when we discuss meter management. You can also get a counter hit in this game, and when you are successful, it opens up an avenue for further attacks and damage.
How to Defend Yourself
Regarding the defensive part of this game, the primary thing to talk about is the moon gauge. The moon gauge is a meter located at the top left corner of the screen, just below the character portrait (if you’re starting on P1’s side). This is a gauge that is tied to the shield mechanic, which we talked about earlier. The shield is a universal parry system available to every character and is used to block and counter attacks. There are other defensive options like back dashes, quick or delayed rise, or other techs, but by far, the most important is the shield. When shielded, you can block most attacks but will still be susceptible to lows (if you are shielding high) and throws. The shield also depletes your moon gauge, and while shielding, you cannot do anything else.
On the bright side, if you successfully shield a move, you gain some moon gauge back, and if you shield, you are also allowed to counter the opponent, usually with a launcher, and go back on the offensive. You are allowed to hold the shield in place for as long as you like, and it will still take the same amount of moon gauge as if you press it for one second, so that’s something to keep in mind.
Finally, if the shield is used against you, you can also shield against the opponent’s next move if you are fast enough. This adds another layer to the mind games and deepens the intricacies of the fighting system of this game.
Like with any fighting game, your most valuable resource is your meter. This is a set of bars usually found at the bottom of the screen that dictates how powerful your moves will be. In Melty Blood, it is called a Magic Circuit. So, every special move in Melty Blood: Type Lumina has an EX version which is pulled off thanks to the meter bar. There are three bars of meter (a fourth is added when a character goes into the awakening state) which you can fill by hitting and getting hit by the opponent. Once you have a full bar of meter, you can do an EX move. If you have two bars of meter, you can do two EX moves and three EX moves with three bars. But you could also do your super which is a flashy move that does a lot of damage and goes a long way in helping you win the fight. Every player must be careful about how they manage their meter, as it could easily be the difference between success and defeat.
As mentioned earlier, there is a fourth bar called an awakened state. The fourth bar is unlocked when a player loses a round and is in danger of losing it all. With it, players will now have access to your Last Arc move. This is a super with more flashy scenes that also deal a great amount of damage to the opponent.
Heat mode is a pretty unique mechanic that is also insanely useful. The heat mode is activated if you have any meter and can be achieved by inputting A+B+C into the controller. The heat mode bar is one single bar that corresponds to the amount of meter you originally had. For example, if you have one bar of meter and activate heat mode, you'll have about a third of the bar, and more if you have two or three bars. What does heat mode do? Well, the most important thing is that it can help you regain health. It does this at the cost of your bar, but it is quite useful.
It should be noted that when you take damage in MBTL, you lose health, but some residual health is retained, which is easily identifiable by a dark blue bar along with your life bar. Think of it like the grey health in Street Fighter. Another thing of note is that once you are in heat mode, you can do your level three super regardless of how little meter you have. This is very useful and a huge reason to use heat mode in matches.
As mentioned earlier, one more bar can be unlocked when things aren't going your way, and it makes available a very powerful super. Awakening state also works a little different with heat mode in that when in heat mode, while also in the awakening state, the entire stage turns red, and if you are able to shield any move, you will automatically go into your Last Arc super move.
Let us now examine the Moon Gauge. The Moon Gauge is a very important resource that adds a lot to your gameplay and offense. For one, it helps with shielding, as discussed earlier. However, it does more than that, enabling you to do some enhanced moves called Moon Skills that add various properties. You simply input any direction along with B+C. With each move, the Moon Gauge is depleted until it is drained. You can build it up by hitting the opponent. It should be noted that the Moon Gauge can only be filled with single hits meaning that if you go into a combo, only the first hit will count towards filling your Moon Gauge. You can also charge up the Moon Icon by holding 2A+B.
Also, you are able to go into Moon Drive (B+C), which is much like Head Mode, but it does not replenish your health bar. What it does, is increase mobility and make ridiculous things like triple jumps and double air dashes a reality.
You have to be careful to ensure that you manage your Moon Gauge, as you cannot go into Moon Drive if your Gauge is below 50%.
A Quick Glossary of MBTL Mechanics
Considering you might be reading and watching other guides on the game, it is important to have a grasp of MBTL lingo. Below, we’ll be examining the most important ones.
Reverse Beat - The ability to chain your combos in reverse (e.g., C+B+A)
Rapid Beat - Fancy name for auto combos
Re-Shield - This is a term to describe an opponent immediately shielding themselves against an opponent’s Shield counter and gaining advantages based on that
Awakening - This occurs after you lose a round. A fourth bar is unlocked, and you can use your Last Arc Super
Arc Drive - A fancy name for your three-bar super
Moon Drive Counter - When someone goes into Moon Drive, you can retort by going into Moon Drive too and stay safe from their pressure.
Forced Release - This is a mechanic similar to Burst in Guilty Gear Strive. By pressing A+B+C while blocking, you have a ‘get off me’ move that costs one bar of meter
Last Arc - We’ve talked about this; use it to spell certain doom to enemies.
Melty Blood has a cast of about 21 characters, including an extra character slot for Hisui/Kohaku (it’s a whole thing) and they are diverse as they can be. Sure, there is no dedicated grappler, but there is enough variety to keep people happy.
Melty Blood is a game that rewards persistence, it might be niche, but it is an absolute gem. I hope this guide has been helpful, and if you want to read more, you can check out the DashFight game guides here.