BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is the latest entry in the BlazBlue franchise that merges three additional franchises into one ultimate battle. These franchises are Under Night In-Birth, Persona and RWBY. Under Night In-Birth being its own fighting series, Persona is usually classed as a JRPG and RWBY being a web series. This makes BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle a very ambitious cross over of four successful different IPs.
The game features a story mode, whereby you can experience a story from the view-point of four different universes. The story of BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is surprisingly simple compared to its previous entries. Four worlds have collided whereby characters from each world have been sent into an unknown land. In this land a mysterious entity is making these characters fight each other in tag battles (2v2). It was refreshing to experience a story that was simple to grasp unlike the universe that BlazBlue is set-in, even if it was a bit too generic. Highly likeable characters and good dialogue did help to make the story more interesting, For example I would occasionally find some of Ragna’s usual shenanigans to be quite funny. However unlike BlazBlue I found the story for each universe to be quite short. Therefore, you will likely finish each story relatively quickly.
Although the game is titled BlazBlue, the biggest difference other than the cross overs is the gameplay. In order to extend the game’s audience, Arc System Works have made gameplay more simplified. This makes it much easier to learn each characters moves. A lot of the advanced fighting mechanics from BlazBlue have been removed resulting a streamlined experience. Despite this simplification, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is a game that is easy to play but difficult to master. Gamers will still need to understand the fundamentals to fighting games if they wish to succeed at higher levels. I feel the game has struck a good balance of being simplified but still engaging. It’s worth noting that those accustomed to BlazBlue and Under Night In-Birth, may be slightly disappointed in this aspect. BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle as the name suggests is a 2v2 battle game similar to Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, whereby you can switch between two different fighters during a match. Combat is responsive and I found that the ability to switch between characters and allowing them to use moves in a combo to be pleasing. Moreover, the fact that the game has been optimised for those using standard controllers makes the experience even more enjoyable for the standard gamer.
The game features a decent amount of modes, the story mode should keep players entertained for a couple of hours. I enjoyed playing through the story compared to recent BlazBlue and Under Night In-Birth games. The story mode featured battles which made it much more engaging, I did find these fights to be over a tad too quickly though. I was surprised by the lack of an arcade mode. Furthermore, the tactics mode which is essentially the tutorial mode, was fairly limited though it did cover the fundamentals. In addition, the tactics mode features a section allowing you to learn about each characters moves etc. Additionally, missions which allow you to overcome certain situations help players further learn the games concepts. As a cross over, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle features a great variety of characters in the base game with 20 included and more promised as free DLC. However, an additional 20 of the characters are paid DLC. What makes this worse is that some paid characters are even fought against in the story mode. Additionally, with the exemption of RWBY characters, the majority of the roster is essentially a copy and paste from each game’s series. However, the simplified mechanics make each character feel different. It would have been nice to see new characters even if it was just from BlazBlue. A minor issue I had with the game is that it doesn’t pause when a controller runs out.
Visually, BlazBlue sticks with the in-house engine rather than using the unreal engine used in recent guilty gear games. The game still looks gorgeous with its brilliantly animated sprites and decent looking backdrops. Locations have been taken from the BlazBlue, Under Night In-Birth and the persona fighting games. The game does look rough in some instances, for example noticeably the Under Night In-Birth locations do look fairly bland and rough. Additionally, the mode’s menu is fairly rough to look at, however everything else presentation wise looks visually gorgeous. The artwork itself is brilliant and the presentation for the most part is highly polished. I liked that although the characters came from different universes, for how well the art style all fit together. However, in relation to sprites and locations I was disappointed that practically everything has been used from previous games, making the game look and feel eerily similar. Battles are fast paced, and when playing the survival mode you will want to quickly move onto the next battle. Thankfully loadings are very quick and non obtrusive. The game features a home hub which allows you to control a 3d Chibi styled avatar to select your desired game mode, and I liked the visual style.
BlazBlue features a variety of memorable music, and there is something here that everyone should enjoy. If you have played any of Arc System Works previous games, then you will likely recognise the majority of the music found in the game. Unfortunately, all this familiar music makes the game sound very similar as well. It would have been nice if some were remixed, this would have prevented the game sounding very similar. The game is fully voiced in an English dub that is very good, it’s nice to see characters from Under Night In-Birth for example finally being voiced in English for the first time.
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle features a variety of modes, and you can expect to use some more than others. Unfortunately, other than the story mode, offline modes are mostly limited to the tactics mode, a survival mode and gallery mode which allows you to look at a small amount of artwork and videos. In comparison to BlazBlue and Under Night In-Birth I personally found it to be lacking. Additionally, making the game more assessable may reduce the replay value for those that like to experiment with the different characters for hours on end. However, the satisfying gameplay should keep you playing the game, and experimenting with different pairings can extend the replay value. The game features an online mode whereby you can test your skills against others across the world.
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is a very good 2v2 fighting game that brings an ambitious cross over of four different franchises. The gameplay as opposed to previous BlazBlue titles has been simplified, allowing for a broader audience that will most likely enjoy the game. Fortunately, the game has struck a good balance of being easy to pick up but hard to master. Different pairing combinations and new mechanics add enough depth so that those accustomed to fighting games have enough to keep them busy. BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle’s disappointing DLC model and a lack of content that I would usually expect from the franchise is not enough to detract from the base game’s positive overall experience.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.