BlazBlue announced for PS3 and Xbox 360

It’s a great time to be a fan of 2D fighting games. Street Fighter 2: HD Remix is currently offering the purest and most polished expression of the form ever created, the absolutely gorgeous King of Fighters XII is on its way and Street Fighter IV (a 2D fighter in all but name) has managed to revitalise interest in what was rapidly becoming a niche concern.

On top of all this, fighting fans now have another excuse to get their Hori sticks out, as Arc System Works’ BlazBlue has been announced for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The announcement — via an IGN translation of Famitsu — currently only covers Japan, but with worldwide online play confirmed, we’re speculating that a western release can’t be far behind.

Like King of Fighters XII, BlazBlue boasts beautifully clean, hand-drawn sprites that are enough to make your eyes water. You can’t tell from the above screen, but in motion this game looks really really hot. It’s not just about eye candy though. Developed by Arc Systems, the people behind the well-regarded Guilty Gear series, this game has a giant bucket of pedigree.

According to Famitsu, the home versions of BlazBlue— currently only available to play in Japanese arcades and a select few spots around the globe — will see some major additions. The biggest of these would seem to be the story mode. Arc general director Toshimichi Mori promises over 30 hours of play time from the mode, which boasts individual, branching stories for each character, affected by both battle results and player choices. All dialogue is voice-work and the people behind Afro Samurai: Resurrection are even working on the animated sequences.

Online play is, of course, confirmed, alongside online rankings and a viewing mode. Downloadable content is also being planned. We’ll bring news of the worldwide release as and when it comes.