Blazblue has been around the fighting game scene for nearly a decade, it’s developer, Arc system works, better known for the Guilty Gear series has been around for two decades. The blazblue games may not be known like other iconic fighters but it’s been moving up the ranks in the competitive fighting scene. Blazblue: chronophantasma extend and Blazblue: Central Fiction have made appearances at the biggest fighting game tournaments like EVO.
Blazblue: Cross Tag battle is the fifth game in the series, if you don’t count the portable releases. Other franchises like Persona 4 Arena, Under Night in-Birth and RWBY are also part of the mix. Characters from all 4 franchises have been summoned to an unknown world and the only way to escape is to fight for the colored keystones, the story will play out in episode mode with some visual novel elements added, the game has dual audio so you can play the episode mode in both English or Japanese, and contains a storyline for all 4 groups.
There’s only 20 characters to choose from by default, and that pretty disappointing when you consider that this is meant to be a cross-over game with 4 franchises. You get to select 10 combatants from Blazblue, four high school students from Persona 4 Arena, four fighters from Under Night in-Birth and two girls from the RWBY franchise. There’s 20 more characters that’s locked behind DLC and should be available in small portions. After the negative feedback from fans, 2 characters from RWBY will be made available as free downloads after launch. Although the starting roster isn’t as packed as I hoped, some of my favourite Blazblue characters like Noel and Hazama have made the cut.
Although we have Three 2D fighters blended in, they share pretty similar framework and movement, that’s why the fighting mechanics have been unified to give it that overall balance. The movement feels responsive and the combos are easy to pull off, The BlazBlue games are known for having 2 options on the character select screen, Technical or stylish, both seem to be missing in Cross Tag Battle and have been replaced with a new combo system which is similar to the stylish option. Dispite the changes you see in Blazblue Cross Tag, most of the characters from from their respective franchises pretty much play the same way, the game has a Tactics mode where you get breakdowns of each character so you can learn a variation of moves.
Besides the Episode and Tactics mode, you get your regular Training mode, Survival and a standard V.S. mode, Surprisingly the game does not have a traditional Arcade mode which is a bit of a let down. Gallary mode is also included, where you can view illustrations and certain videos. The game has a user friendly interface, on the main entrance of the game, you get to use your avatar, go to many places including online lobbies, an item shop to buy stuff from avatars and extra items for your fight card.
With all the effort focused on gameplay and fighting mechanics, it seems like they were more focused on catering to all types of players, from casual to hardcore. There’s a certain lack of effort in other areas in the game. Sprites, animations and music are all recycled from the previous games. Some of the assets from Under Night In-Birth have slightly improved. Assets from RWBY is the new thing you’ll notice in the game.
I’ve tried the online lobby after launch and it’s very similar to Dragonball FighterZ and Guilty Gear XRD Rev 2, you get to meet other players, check their stats and arrange matches. The net coding on PS4 seems to be ok, and I’ve never really had an issue playing matches online.
Although some of the assets have been recycled from previous entries from their respective franchises, the overall presentation still looks stylish and colourful, the art is beautifully drawn, and the gameplay is what you come to expect from an Arc system fighting game, the game is very combo driven with something new to learn and master every time. The game has a diverse lineup of characters and the future of the Blazblue franchise looks very promising.