Also On: PS3
Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: Arc System Works
Medium: Digital/Vita Card/Disc
In my years of playing almost every fighting game I can get my hands on (except for Double Dragon 5, I will never touch that), I found the BlazBlue series to be a second fiddle to another Arc System Works Game, Guilty Gear. To me, Guilty Gear was always top dog with this form of 2D fighter, with its extra detailed backgrounds and super smooth animations, it was a dream to look at and play. Now it seems that BlazBlue has stepped it up with this latest release, with a huge facelift in not only graphics and animation, but gameplay as well.
The overall premise of BlazBlue is simple, and that is to pummel your opponent with comically large weapons wielded by even stranger characters. Most players don’t even know that there is a story line and a reason why they are slicing each other up violently, but since the story spans several sequels and upgrades throughout the series, I’ll try to break it down. The story is set in December of 2199, during a new years celebration, when word spreads that Ragna the Bloodedge, an SS-class rebel with the highest ever bounty on his head, has appeared City of Kagutsuchi. The apparent aim of Ragna or the "Grim Reaper”, as he’s called by many, is the destruction of the system controlling the world. To collect the bounty, a motley array of unrivaled fighters all try to confront him and each other in the process. There is much more to this story, but I can’t break it down enough to fit in one review, lets just focus on the main reason you are playing, and that is to fight wacky characters with wacky weapons.
All of the classic modes you would find in almost every fighting game are included with BB:C, Arcade Mode is aa 8 character battle where a characters story is played out through one on one fights, a Versus Mode to pummel your friends, and other standard modes like Score Attack and a Survival Mode. One mode I had a good time with was called “Unlimited Mars Mode”, where you fight a series of opponents that get more difficult with each battle. If you the kind of player who lands combos by sheer luck and coincidence, then you will not last long here. There is also a daily decent Online Mode when you get bored with computer opponents, and want to challenge the world. I only managed to play a few matches online, but when I did, the action was just as smooth as playing alone, with zero lag. For those interested, there IS a Story Mode, but unlike other fighters, the player doesn’t interact outside of reading and pressing the X button occasionally. That’s right, the Story Mode is just that, The Story of BlazBlue told through pictures and text. All I can say about that is, it’s there if you like that sort of thing.
With previous BlazBlue games, control always seemed stiff and clunky when compared to Guilty Gear. This time however, the control is vastly improved over the previous releases. I found myself pulling off moves and combos with ease and even chaining together combos for some massive damage. Super Moves were something I almost never bothered with in previous games due to them barely ever working for me, but here, I was able to pull off almost everyone I tried (with a mild degree of success in the fight as well). It took many games and updates, but Blazblue’s controls are finally on par (or even slightly better) than Guilty Gear! One small gripe I had was controlling the text in the Arcade Mode, where sometimes the button would not advance the text and I was forced to wait for it to finish scrolling. It seemed random and never happened in the same place twice. it’s an extremely small gripe but it was the only issue I had with controls.
The visuals are a major step up from previous games as well, with new animations and brilliantly hand drawn backgrounds that will set your eyes on fire. When compared to even Continuum Shift (the last one I played), everything is completely revamped, right down to the smallest detail. The soundtrack is just the right fit for a game like this, with heavy metal classical tunes mixed with some speed metal, every song gets you in the mood to inflict pain on your opponent. Voices are in English by default, and actually sound like competent voice actors were used in every aspect. Even the announcer sounds better than in previous games.
BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma is by far the best entry in the long running series. The PS Vita version is identical in every way to the PS3 version, so it does not matter which system you play it on. Fighting game fans will love the tuned up controls and combos, while new players can easily get into the gameplay and have fun. If the character selection is lacking for you (although, I can’t see how) there are a few new characters for download in the respective online stores, but they run at about 8 dollars a character, so I suggest doing a little research before downloading them. I highly recommend checking this one out, as this is the best BlazBlue yet!