BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle

Year: 2018
Platform: PlayStation 4
Developer: Arc System Works
Genre: Fighting
Review Date: 6/19/18
Rating: ***

A mysterious entity assembles a phantom field dimension and fills it with various characters from "BlazBlue," "Persona 4," "Under Night In-Birth," and "RWBY." In order to get back to their respective worlds, the characters have to fight each other over a collection of special keystones, but the entity just uses that as an excuse to collect battle data on everyone so that it can invade their worlds.

Much like "Calamity Trigger," this is a deep, but accessible technical fighter with lots of nuances. For someone like me, basic attacks and combos are all I can handle, but there are numerous advanced tactics that result in massive damage and fancy visual effects. As the title suggests, it's a 2-on-2 tag game, which adds additional complexity. There are lots of gauges to monitor, and even after going through the detailed tutorials, I was still confused and overwhelmed by everything.

The game looks fantastic and has a wonderful soundtrack. The 2D animated sprites are detailed and colorful, and the movement is fast and fluid. Unfortunately, the stages are pretty dull, although the action is so frantic that you don't have much of an opportunity to look at them. The controls are simple and responsive, and everyone uses the same move set for the most part. Even with the large number of moves and combos, nothing is more complicated than a simple quarter dial, which I'm highly thankful for.

The meat of the game is Episode Mode, where you can play four different stories based on each world. Story progression follows the standard text over static character art paradigm, and you can choose either Japanese or English for both in-battle and story voices, which is a nice touch. I tried listening to the English story dialog, but it was so awful that I had to quit after a few minutes. The Japanese voices are MUCH better, although it's a little unsettling hearing the RWBY cast in Japanese. The story elements are amusing and true to the characters, but they go on WAY too long, which makes it feel like a bit of a chore. Unfortunately, once you clear Episode Mode, there's not much left to do offline other than Training Mode and Versus Mode. If there were an Arcade Mode where you could play a set number of matches with your favorite tag team, that would add considerable offline value, but it seems the game is much more focused on online matches, which holds no appeal to me. The game also features a strange central hub, or lobby, where you have a chibi avatar that can walk around. It makes no sense, and only serves as a cumbersome alternative to the standard menu functions. Another annoyance is that there are 18 additional playable characters that you can download, but they're timed releases, so even if you purchase the full DLC pack (like I did), you don't immediately get all of the characters. That's really irritating, since I'll probably never revisit the game to unlock the other characters when they become available. It's also disappointing that the male roster outnumbers the female roster by about 2:1.