Fighting games have come a long way in terms of ideas. We finally have an anime fighting game that can at least please as many people as possible by, as you guessed it, adding more characters. All of them potentially and surprisingly have the skills to top any 300IQ super being or dare say, god. It looks great, its concepts are easy to grasp. If you look through it though, what are you getting out of it? Do you know if it’s right for you? That’s the age-old question we’re here to answer.
Blazblue, in short, has always been an animated 2D fighting game series. This time it brings other animated franchises together. Persona 3, Persona 4, Under-night In-Birth, RWBY, and of course, Blazblue are all included in the base game, while its DLC covers Arcana Heart, Senran Kagura, and Akatsuki Blitzkampf. You might only recognize one of these series or even none of them. You can, however, get into this game regardless. Why is that? Let’s get to know the game.
The game takes advantage of the controls just enough so that if you play with a friend on the go, you both can play with a Joy-Con sideways. Yes, this game also supports handheld mode. The joystick acts as a way of movement and defending while the other buttons are used for attacking. Take note that when you move back, it’s always slower than moving forward unless you input the away command twice.
It’s common to have two characters in a fighting game’s match. However, in this game, players have to choose two characters to play against an opponent who will also use 2 characters, both with their own health bar, hence the name “Cross Tag Battle”, giving more uniqueness to your obscure decision choices and to the game itself. The health bars slowly regenerate back if a character isn’t being used for a while, not to the extent, however, that stalling is even possible.
Even though there are two-on-two matches in this game, there is no free-for-all. Do not expect to have more than one friend with you playing at a time. Unless there’s a truce between four players in a “team battle”-like format. So deciding who’s best over a group of friends has more or less at stake.
This game features your typical attack triangle with block, attack, and grab. Blocking is done by holding back the joystick, grab is done by pressing two buttons without any movement required after executing, and then there’s attacking.
Aside from the basic grabs, there are moves from certain characters that act as grabs (a.k.a. command grabs). The way they are implemented varies from character to character. A common example is Iron Tager. He has a grab while jumping that sucks the player in so the safest option to combat it is attacking. The range also varies by character, therefore long arm Waldstein outranges most characters.
There are problems in the way blocking is done especially when an opponent jumps over you. When using certain characters, most of these problems can be ignored. But for the most part, the effective strategy is to back the opponent into a corner and combo them to death so it depends on who you play.
The best-case scenario is holding back causes you to move faster backward as the opponent is jumping over you. This leads to more close up combat, but blocking pushes the blocker away from the attack. It’s really only as bad as it sounds, which it isn’t. Holding back only causes the player to move back if not being hit.
Attacking is your go-to for damage. Since there are more buttons used for attacking than there are for almost any other option, it’s obvious, right? There are so many options, the game offers its own guide for all of your options besides summoning allies mid-match. For more damage, meters are used but if your opponent is aware they may stay out of range or hold block.
When playing, there is enough time to perform a combo if done in succession after the first hit input (hoping it lands). With that in mind, you can imagine it would take a lot of discipline to complete. The solution? Combos that allow the player to only have to press a certain button. They lead to low risk, moderately high reward, and a lot of flashy styles anyone can enjoy.
If your opponent is flooding you with stress as you block without an idea of getting out it would be wise to perform a reversal attack. Pressing two buttons, different from the grab input, acts as a counter providing a little more depth.
You can perform two jumps with most characters allowing for a lot of movement, however, it can be frustrating moving and jumping as diagonal inputs lead to different jumps as well. Some moves require quarter-circle joystick inputs starting from the down position. It’s not as obvious to your opponent though, since there is a window where the down input on screen is not visible.
When jumping, there is no ‘falling faster’ input with the stick so that was very thoughtful. For example, human players like to know what the other player is doing so much so that predicting correctly gives them the edge. When reading inputs from the other player some of that stick movement is masked away by jumping or not being able to see it and crouching requires holding the input. Even without fast-falling, there’s the option to jump so waiting on the ground is harder to do if wanting to attack.
This game promotes more offensive-oriented playstyles with the unique movement the game grants you. Moving forward is always done faster than moving away. Grabs feel slightly more in the middle in terms of speed. If you want fast-paced combat, this game provides it.
After the title screen, this game starts you off in the selection hub world. This is where the game lets the player decide what they want to do. No need to unlock characters. Just play and earn money for customizing yourself. There are online lobbies as well as a slew of single/local play modes. If you wish to wonder how this game got these worlds together canonically hit the story mode.
This game’s modes are chosen via a hub world called ‘The Entrance’, where you can talk to NPCs or people you met online via text while connected. It can be more satisfying compared to using menus where there’s little freedom and can be otherwise seriously straightforward. The game’s hub does a good job in terms of giving you a place to run around, but you might wish for it to be larger.
The game offers four mildly unique single-player stories after you are sent into the two battle-long prologues. Each story has you take control of the main heroes of their respective franchises. They are forced to fight off characters of the same universe that want to stop you from leaving this newly created world with the sacred Keystones in possession. As you’d expect, your characters also want to figure out the rules of the world and reach the goal as instructed.
There are four separate stories that can be played in any order. It even offers multiple endings for one of the stories. If you wanted to complete them all in one day you’re on vacation, you could. It features multiple save states, which is more than enough to keep track of which paths you’ve chosen.
There is some character variety, however, unlike most other modes to this game, you’re stuck with the first character you see and the mysterious announcer to guide you somewhat. Even if the difficulty is wanted, it can be changed. There is also an added, more creative story, if you buy the DLC that’s worth more than the base game to include the additional characters.
If you ever get lost deciding who to pick or how to execute moves, the mid-battle pause menu or Tactics Mode can help you out. There is enough variety conceptual-wise to please anyone with a knack for fighting games at its core. You got close range, hit and run, grapplers, powerhouses, high combo potential, and plenty of in-between. With 20 fighters and 33 more as DLC (two of which is free).
Each character has their own theme that has the chance of being played in battle unless the song is chosen during the Local Play mode. As you’d expect in anime it also offers the choice of voice actors for each character, and their own opening and closing lines. If you are in a rush when in VS. or Online mode, you can pick from your preset teams and colors.
Additional Modes and Content
The other modes in the game are the Item Shop, Tactics Mode, Survival Mode, Local Play, Replay Theater, and Gallery. If you don’t feel like looking through those, you can at least change the music and listen to some rock, pop, electronic, and orchestrated pieces (sorted by series) in the hub. Most appear to be recycled, but if you haven’t heard of these series before, it makes it a whole lot better.
Survival Mode tests your skills but it feels really hollow because it’s just fighting CPUs until the player loses whereas if you went into local play you could already do that and change your character if you felt like it. It is the closest you’ll get to any form of arcade mode though. Local Play is just a quick single battle against your friends or a CPU.
The Gallery displays all of the unlockable art used in the story mode/select characters screen. The Replay Theater shows all of your replays saved from epic online duels in detail. They can show who won and can be sorted by character. The game can set battles as favorites if you set them to.
Tactics Mode teaches you more about the game and its characters’ attacks. It provides some tough missions upon learning these that you can take at your own pace. The game grants virtual money for these if they are completed, giving you the motivation you need.
The shop has items to customize the player’s profile or avatar. Each playable character in the game has an avatar associated with them that can be purchased from the shop. The profile displays how things look to other players online. This includes a count of wins and losses.
Everyone is shown as their avatar used in the hub world. The game lets you change your avatar and its color to stand out more if you wish to do so, but there aren’t as many colors here as there are for fighting with. Your favorite character color (in-match) and avatar color might not correlate.
Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle shines with its player base and replayability. Online mode has lobbies for ranked and unranked matches. There’s even a color guide based on a player’s skill level. The matches do not have a significant amount of input delay and it doesn’t take long to get into a battle either.
The area offers the option to send messages with a 30 character limit, therefore third-party chatting apps may be more optimal for communication, but for private matches it’s doable. There are plenty of emotes to communicate with for quick recognition too. Even without the DLC, you can use the DLC character-included emotes. Not bad but it could be better in terms of in lobbies.
Customizing Your Online Profile
Profiles include an icon, VS. Plate, Title, and message. An Icon is just a small pic of any of the playable characters, which can be purchased at the shop. Usually, just something to resemble your face. Titles are mainly unlockable messages that describe yourself.
VS. Plates can just have a detailed background relating to one specific series as long as it’s bought. Other than that, there is an option to show one or two fighters in there and choose the color of the ones given. Not as detailed, but fitting if there are some fighters that stick out more than others. It feels like too much, especially on top of everything else.
Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle offers a lot of variety within the realm of a fighting game and the learning curve is not as steep as most other fighting games. The visuals and quality of the animations hold their own quite well. Single-player on its own could bore you, so if you don’t have Internet or friends to play with, it can be considered as an empty gem case.
Although the base game isn’t bad, it adds up when the DLC costs more than the game itself. There are enough characters for you to enjoy the game on its own, but if you want something fresh or you like how the game feels, you should consider getting the DLC.
This game gets an 8 out of 10.