BLANDIA / Allumer / Arcade
Blandia is an evolution of the earlier arcade title Gladiator by the same publisher, and it basically ports that game's combat system into a more Capcom-like fighting engine. It feels a little different from most Street Fighter clones, in that it's a more defensive battle where you first have to knock off armor from a foe, then strike them in the bare spot to do damage. There are three attack buttons -- high, medium, low -- and when foes execute the same attack at the same time it causes the weapons to bounce off each other.

The new stuff is a much more Japanime art direction, as well as life bars and special moves. And while the previous game basically centered on damaging armor until it fell off then going for a kill shot, armor falls off with only a couple of strikes here and subsequent hits just do some damage.

There's some threadbare story about a Mad King taking over this fusion of ancient Greece and modern Japanese cartoons. It scrolls by super-fast in teaser mode if you want to try and read it. What it breaks down to is that you pick one of six characters, fight all the other playables, then fight the King's entourage of four guards before dueling it out with him for the throne.

Gameplay in solo mode can be tedious as the computer likes to corner-trap you and spam the same moves over and over, and has an unfair advantage in being able to rapidly spam special moves that normally require a charge time. This makes the game a little difficult to learn, and it might be more enjoyable with a second player of the same skill level.

Blandia actually might be the first weapons-based 2D fighter, as the release date puts it a little ahead of Samurai Shodown. It's a neat idea and feels different from all the other 2D fighters of the era, even the weapon-based ones, but the small publisher, small budget and inexperience really shows through when put up against the heavyweights of the time.
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