BlazBlue is a series that offers many incredibly fun fighting games. The most recent addition to the series is more of a spin-off than a proper mainline game. It is a full anime fighter that is a crossover of different gaming franchises. Character roster features fan favorites taken from Persona 4: Arena, RWBY and Under Night In-Birth but most are still from BlazBlue. Arc System Works, who are well-known for crafting gorgeously animated 2D fighters, is the main developer behind it. I had really high expectations considering the potential behind the game but it is sadly an experience that doesn’t come close to their best work.
The biggest issue with BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle that it doesn’t really offer much content despite having a lot of fan service. It is nice to see that our favorite fighters are playable in a single game but aside from that, there are no new additions that make it stand out from the countless other 2D fighters. It also doesn’t come close to the content offered by the last mainline BlazBlue game, which was discouraging after all this hype.
The story in BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle deals with a mysterious amulet. The game divides the story among the four factions for each different franchise. Whoever manages to protect the mysterious keystone will be able to safely return to their world and this sets the basic premise of the story. There are four episodes to play and each episode will focus on a single franchise beginning with Episode BlazBlue. The cut scenes are in a typical visual novel style. Writing is rather weak and the story doesn’t really offer any interesting narrative or twists, but there are multiple endings that add some value to it.
The standard form of navigation in BlazBlue is your typical chibi-style world hub that is prominent in many of the recent Arc System Works games. You are able to control a chibi-styled character in the hub and navigate it to attempt multiplayer, play through the offline content including the story mode, or challenge other players online. I didn’t really find it that different from Dragon Ball FighterZ and the implementation is simple enough that you won’t miss the traditional way of picking these gameplay modes from a menu.
The basic fighting itself is actually pretty fun. It is simple and easy to grasp for even a newcomer. I found it like Dragon Ball FighterZ except it strips down a lot of the flashy moves and combat mechanics in favor of a limited set of combos or special attacks. You can do combos with simply repeated button presses but specials still need you to do the clock-wise inputs. They are still not that hard or tricky to master compared to some other difficult fighters. The EX attacks, Distortions and Astral Hits from BlazBlue are present in this game and it is always interesting to see their execution for every fighter.
Despite having such a diverse character roster, it feels like the game never fully explores their potential because of a limited move set. It can feel a little disappointing compared to most other fighting games. The other issue is that the vanilla version of the game, without any DLC, is rather lacking since it doesn’t feature a great number of fighters. It is a shame that the core gameplay is rather fun but it is held back by the DLC characters that are not available for those who decide to buy the regular edition of the game.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a good amount and variety of characters for a fighting game, and this is an area where BlazBlue fails to show any impact. Not only is the game pretty lackluster with just 20 characters in the full roster, there are around 20 more that are part of a season pass for the game with 2 of them available for free. It feels like a cut game at launch because of this and doesn’t really leave a good impression despite having solid fighting mechanics. To overcome some of the negativity, the game has a lower base price while the season pass is not that expensive, but the attempt to divide characters this way doesn’t show it in a positive light.
The crossover appeal of the game lies in playing with characters from franchises like Persona, RWBY and Under Birth In-Night, but most of the character roster is from BlazBlue. The head-scratching part is that if you play through the story mode, you can fight the downloadable characters that are a part of the season pass, which tell me that they are already in the game and just locked behind a paywall.
There is still a decent amount of content in the game with the various gameplay modes. Training mode makes the return here and if you prefer local battles, versus mode is available as well. There is no exciting new gameplay mode though, and it is mostly a mix of arcade, story and tactics mode. Online multiplayer support is great with a tournament mode while you can individually attempt a casual or ranked match. Sadly the online population is rather low so that finding matches is more of a case of luck than the connection quality. I don’t really see this situation improving in the future but I hope that it does since there isn’t really much to do in the game after completing most of the offline content.
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is a 2D fighting game developed and published by Arc System Works, released on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Windows
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is an incredibly fun and varied fighting game with some great combat mechanics. It is the lack of content and a poor character roster for a fighting game crossover that makes it an overall disappointing product.