Melty Blood (メルティブラッド Meruti Buraddo), is a visual novel and fighting game, co-developed by dōjin circles Type-Moon and French-Bread, originally released at Comiket on December 2002. It is shortened as simply Merubura (メルブラ). Based on Type Moon's visual novel game, Tsukihime, it later spawned an arcade version, titled Act Cadenza, the first Type-Moon title to receive a PlayStation 2 port.
The story of Melty Blood follows one year after Tsukihime. Shiki Tohno hears of a new series of murders in Misaki similar to the one's that took place Tsukihime. Whilst searching for the murderer he meets Sion Eltnam Atlasia who initiates a fight with him, attempting to capture him. After the fight she reveals that her reason for trying to capture him is to get in contact with the "True Ancestor" (referring to Arcueid) so that she may acquire information on the "cure for vampirism". Shiki then decides to help her with this task.
The story moves through a series of fights. Depending on the outcome of the fight the story will branch in one of two ways. Ultimately this corresponds to the ending of the game.
Only six characters were available to be played, with eight more being unlockable through story-mode. However, in a later update released for the game (the 'Nero' patch), all the characters are available from the start. The reasons for this are slightly unclear; they appear to be the result of a legal misunderstanding whereby Type-Moon mistakenly thought they would no longer be allowed to produce updates/patches, and thus made a 'last patch' which unlocked the characters as a sort of gift for the fans. Whatever the reason, Type-Moon has left these characters available throughout all subsequent releases.
Melty Blood makes use of widely used concepts in fighting games such as cancels (canceling a normal attack with a special attack before its animation ends, allowing for more complex and damaging combos) chain combos (normal moves that cancel into other normal moves) and the use of super bars (Magic Circuits). It also introduces Shielding, an advanced defensive technique.
EX-Shielding: A high-risk/reward technique which eliminates the damage and 'block-stun' from an attack. Activated by a button press, it requires exact timing to 'deflect' the opponent's attack, thus exposing them to a reversal. However, if mis-timed, an EX-Shield attempt leaves the player extremely vulnerable. EX-Shielding also carries a damage penalty for subsequent attacks, but grants a small amount of Magic Circuit and disallows the opponent to cancel his/her attack into another one. Finally, in later versions of Melty Blood, EX-Shielding during the Blood Heat state activates a unique attack known as a Last Arc. In Melty Blood: Act Cadenza, a new type of Shielding was introduced which allows the player to hold the Shield button for an extended length of time to defend against multiple attacks. However, this rapidly drains Magic Circuit, and grants fewer retaliatory options upon recovery. In Melty Blood: Actress Again shielding varies depending on which style you pick with Half Moon having the ability of an auto-counter and Full Moon with the same ability except it is manually executed after successfully landing a shield.
Magic Circuit: A system that allows players to store up to 300% meter, for various uses such as EX Attacks (high-powered versions of special techniques) and the Heat and Blood Heat modes. These modes allow players to regenerate a portion of their lifebar, as well as allow access to their character's ultimate attacks, known as Arc-Drives and Last Arcs. All of these techniques consume Magic Circuit, which is accumulated by attacking your opponent, and to a lesser degree, successfully defending against your opponent. Magic Circuit carries over between rounds. Magic Circuit is also required for the Circuit Spark technique.
Clashing: An offensive state where certain attacks or maneuvers impact directly with an opponent's attack, thus resulting in a 'clash.' No damage is taken as a result, and both players are allowed to cancel their attacks as if they had connected successfully.
Aerial Recovery: A defensive measure used after being attacked in mid-air by pressing any button and, optionally, while holding a direction. It grants temporarily invulnerability to the player and allows them to resume action, but may be detrimental in certain circumstances if the attacking player predicts which direction the Aerial Recovery is performed.
Tactical Recovery: After being attacked, performed by pressing any upward direction upon impacting the floor. Doing so allows a player to quickly regain momentum and avoid 'OTG'(On The Ground) combos while utterly defenseless. However, players are not allowed to block during the recovery animation, and thus will expose themselves to punishment if the attacking player predicts the recovery attempt. This is an aspect of the Okizeme meta-game found in many fighting games.
Shield Bunker Canceling: More akin to a glitch than an actual feature, Shield Bunker Canceling (known as Baka Cancel in Japan and Bara Cancel in the US) is a powerful technique where a player, while blocking an attack, can counter-attack with a Shield Bunker, but cancels the beginning animation into an attack of their choice. This is typically an EX Attack with invincibility properties. This can drastically affect how one attacks an opponent. There are several methods to counter this technique, but it remains a feature of high-level play in Melty Blood. As proof that this accidental technique was accepted by the game's designers, this technique was altered to incur an additional 50% Magic Circuit cost to balance out its effectiveness in Version B. As of Melty Blood Actress Again the "Bara Cancel" technique is no longer possible.
Circuit Spark: Used during MAX mode only, a Circuit Spark allows a player, who is either blocking an attack or suffering damage, to 'break out' of the attack with an unblockable, invincible 'aura' that sacrifices all available Magic Circuit. This can only be performed if the character is standing or crouching; if the character is airborne or lying down, this technique is unavailable. In Melty Blood Actress Again it is possible to circuit spark in the air with all three styles.
Reverse Beat: A feature of Melty Blood not found in many other games is the ability to cancel attacks with large amounts of recovery into fast jab attacks, thus negating the disadvantage of using heavy slow attacks against a blocking opponent, however there's an adverse effect of damage decreasing in Reverse Beat combos. This features extremely heavily in high-level play for most of the characters.
Source: Wikipedia, "Melty Blood", available under the CC-BY-SA License.