Ever since the original arcade release of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger in arcades, the series has made a name for itself as one of the industry’s latest and greatest fighting franchises. The series’ tight controls, quirky characters, and surprisingly memorable storyline have found a place in gamer’s hearts; both competitive and casual. After a total of four main games during the span of two console cycles, the future of the franchize was anybody’s guess. Cue BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, the next trick up Arc System Works’ sleeve.
This ambitious tag-team fighter brings not only fan favorites from BlazBlue together, but also those from Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth, and even RWBY. But will BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle be remembered like Marvel vs. Capcom 2, or forgotten like Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite?
With the exceptions of Guilty Gear and Dragon Ball FighterZ, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is the combination of Arc System Works’ biggest games in recent memory. Unlike most modern fighters, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is made up of traditional 2D sprites. With BlazBlue: Central Fiction released only a couple years ago, series fans should have an idea of what to expect. The fighters are all made up of a seemingly infinite number of HD sprites. Even before the first input is entered, the beauty of each fighter can be seen an admired. What’s more impressive is the amount of effort put into each character’s animation. With the series’ 2D design, battles could almost look like an anime to the untrained eye.
As elegant as each individual fighter may look, they aren’t quite perfect. The quality if each character’s design isn’t necessarily consistent. As mentioned above, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle shortly follows the release of BlazBlue: Central Fiction. As a result, it looks as though many of the visuals were ripped straight from its predecessor. While the recent BlazBlue and new RWBY sprites look top notch, those from Persona 4 Arena and Under Night In-Birth at times look a bit dated. These clashes are most visible on the PlayStation 4 release. As Persona 4 Arena was a series of games from the last generation of game’s this could lead to some of the characters being rough around the edges. Likewise, as Under Night In-Birth has never quite met the visuals of an in-house developed game, Hyde and friends can’t help but seem a step behind the competition.
As with all major BlazBlue releases, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle offers players a Story Mode. One might ask why this review seems to lack a Story segment. As a cross-over game, the reasoning may not surprise you. Rather than continuing the timeless tale of the BlazBlue quadrilogy, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle features its own original story. Unfortunately, as with most fighting games, the story really isn’t anything notable. Rather, it is a motivation to go from point a to point b in a set fashion. As the game, unfortunately, lacks an arcade mode, the uninspiring Story Mode more or less takes its place.
As with most fighting games, the bread and butter of BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is its multiplayer modes. The game offers tag-teamed matches both online and off. As with this year’s Dragon Ball FighterZ, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle skips menus in favor of a lobby system. Whilst the former suffered from unstable connections and complicated matchmaking, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle offers easily accessible fighters as early as day 0; trust me, I checked.
Now we reach the biggest question on everybody’s mind; how does it play? As a game that brings fighters from multiple franchizes, BlazBlue‘s usual controls have been tweaked to satisfy each character’s style. Drives, Persona, and EXS Actions have been reworked into Attack 2. Attack 1, meanwhile, functions as a general “weak attack.” The most notable changes, however, are the additions of the Change, Clash and Partner commands.
At the start of every match, each player selects their party of two. Players can mix and match fighters from each of the four represented properties. While the starting line up is decided before the battle, characters can easily tag in and out using the Change command. When pressed while a character is unleashing a special, their partner will jump in to do the same. In addition, the Clash command allows the tag team to beat down on their opponent upon a first successful hit. The leading party member may also call on their Partner at about any time with said command. Depending on the buttons pressed in unison, the benched character can jump out to issue one of their signature attacks.
At the end of the day, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle plays like an Arc System Works fighter. It honestly plays as much like Persona 4 Arena or even an Arcana Heart 3 as it does BlazBlue: Central Fiction. While most notable with some of the DLC characters such as Aegis and Platinum the Trinity, many of the more niche characters have been simplified. While many of Platinum’s attacks were formerly controlled by a random factor and limited ammo, her these various attacks were reworked into a set command list. Likewise, Aegis was formerly very restricted by the number of projectile attacks that she launch per battle. With the updated mechanics, Aegis can now be in it for the long haul. These updated mechanics allow characters to not only fit better with the new battle system but play better overall.
Gameplay aside, one of the greatest strengths of BlazBlue has always been its sound. Between the usual dual audio and original soundtrack, BlazBlue has always been as fun to listen to as it is to watch. In fact, the lack of an English dub is a cause of BlazBlue: Central Fiction‘s controversial release by Aksys. With the release of BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, however, dual audio has returned. Despite the large number of characters from varying franchizes, a majority of the original voice talents return. The only exception is Erin Fitzgerald reprising Persona 4 Golden‘s Chie Satonaka instead of the original Persona 4 voice actress, Tracey Rooney. The return of Patrick Seitz’s Ragna the Bloodedge is especially welcome as the BlazBlue really is not the same without him.
The soundtrack of BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle may not be original, but it gets the job done and then some. The game brings together tracks from each of the four represented properties. Atlus and Arc System Works composers are some of the best in the industry. Bringing them together ensures the best of both worlds. From stage songs to main themes, the game features a track for everyone.
Overall, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is a fantastic addition to the BlazBlue series. While it acts more like an original IP than anything, the gameplay should appease fans of the individual properties. Each character has been tweaked and perhaps perfected when compared to their previous appearances. Despite the use of the increasingly infamous online lobbies, the game plays wonderfully even on the Nintendo Switch. While the number of characters “locked” behind paid DLC is a bit alarming, the base game’s low MSRV helps balance things out. Whether you are a fan of BlazBlue, Persona, Under Night In-Birth, RWBY, or 2D fighters in general, this is not a game to be missed.
HEY! HEY!! LISTEN!!! gives BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle 9.3 wanted posters out of 10.