Publisher: Arc System Works
Developer: Arc System Works
When I heard there was another BlazBlue coming to the Nintendo 3DS, I was intrigued but also a little scared after playing the not-so-great port of Continuum Shift 2. But what I found was not your typical BlazBlue experience, but rather a strange arena fighter where you are fighting a swarm of cloned BB characters. The phrase “What the heck” will be uttered more than once as you play.
There isn’t really very much to say about BlazBlue ClonePhantasma . This is a straight one player action brawler where your selected character will enter an arena and fight waves of clone fighters (some resembling other BlazBlue characters) and move on to the next arena. After completing 6 waves or “rebels”, you are thrown into a boss battle. The only way to win is to pummel all of the enemies repeatedly until they fly over the edge of the arena, or smash a group of them with a unique super move. You can build up a power meter with successful strikes making your character hit harder, but once you reach level 3, you can make yourself dizzy if you use your super move too much or take too many hits. During battle, some small power ups appear that can help you regain a life, or give you unlimited super move use for a brief period. You lose if you are knocked off the edge of the arena 3 times, either by enemies or a misplaced step.
Each character you choose has a different boss, commonly it is another BB character you can play as, or is lifted from your selected characters storyline. A few times, the action is interrupted as the game tries to tell a story that will make very little sense to those who have never seen a previous game in the series. Even a veteran like me had a hard time following the Story Mode, but I did chuckle at a few inside jokes that were obviously thrown in for a bit of fan service. After you beat the Story, you can enter Challenge Mode and take on larger waves of enemies or fight the bosses again to better your skills and rank up a high score.
Controls are easy to get used to, with the analog stick or the D-pad for moving your character and the buttons for performing attacks and jumping around the arena. If you forget which button does what, the bottom screen constantly reminds you with repeating text that can (and will) distract you. The L and R buttons are used to zoom the camera in and out, so you can get a better view of who and what you are fighting.
Graphics are a mix of dark, stationary backgrounds and super deformed characters with large heads. The augmented features of the characters make the animations look strange, and sometimes it can be difficult to see especially if you are surrounded by enemies – like a pile of heads bobbing around in a dark boiler room. The characters are represented well though, as they do look like the iconic BlazBlue fighters you know. Sound is a combination of pops and grunts mixed with loud yelling in Japanese (mostly from your character). I have to admit, after the 4th or so battle, I turned down the volume. The music from what I could tell is taken from past BlazBlue games but it’s very hard to hear with all of the aforementioned noises going on.
BlazBlue ClonePhantasma is a game that is fun for a few minutes, but quickly becomes monotonous. Outside of the Story Mode and the Challenges, there isn’t much replay value other than playing one more battles while you are waiting for a PS4 update to finish. It’s an okay value at $5.99, since there aren’t a whole lot of features, but most players may ignore this one for some of the other games offered on the 3DS eShop. I’m not even sure if diehard BlazBlue fans will find this appealing for more than 30 minutes, as it is more suited to the casual gamer.