BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle merges the worlds of BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth and RWBY for a high-speed, dynamic 2D fighting game. ArcSys are renowned for their contribution to the fighting game genre. Usually games with extremely complex and robust fighting systems, they are the shining examples of how a great fighting game should work. This is indeed an ArcSys game, but without much of the complexities of their previous fighters. This is in no way a bad thing. Instead, ArcSys have streamlined the system and concentrated on specific mechanics.
Replacing the usual complex systems is an extremely strong tag mechanic that makes up the heart of this game. ArcSys have ditched the multiple directional input combos and instead opted for a simple 5 button fighter. Each fighter has 2 main attacks, 1 heavy overhead attack, a tag button and partner skill. The true crux of the system lies in the tag mechanics. Tagging a teammate does more than just get you out of a tight spot. Tagging in at the right time can turn the tide of the fight, whether it be to interrupt a combo or make your current combo much more devastating by involving your partner or using their skill to devastating effect. There are 3 different assist moves that you can use; a dashing assist; a long-range assist and a close-range assist. Using these correctly creates extremely satisfying and crushing combos.
The strategy lies in the management of your meters. As with many fighting games, you have your super move meter but along with this, you have an assist meter. You didn’t think all these combo breaking tags would come for free, did you? Each tag spends your meter which builds up again over time. Tagging in too early or too late can leave you vulnerable to your opponent’s devastating tag combos. On the flip side catching your opponent with an assist combo when you know they have no way to break it can be game changing and extremely satisfying. When one of your characters die you can kick into “Resonance Blaze” which gives your fighter a damage boost and gives you a chance to initiate an Astral Finish; an extremely powerful move that can lead to an instant win.
BlazBlue is home to one of the most in-depth tutorials in a fighting game. Every character has their own tutorial that shows off their skills and finishes. Every mechanic is explained in detail and this allows you to perfect your combos, your finishes and also decide who your favourite fighters are to play.
Of course, there are still all the hallmarks of a classic arcade fighter with beautiful character and level design, flashy move sets and fast-paced battles. Each of the characters brings their own unique charm and fans of any of the involved series will be thrilled to see how each of their personalities shine through, especially Ruby Rose who is constantly swooning every time she sees a cool new weapon in the pre-battle monologues. As great as these characters are, the frustration lies in the lack of characters you are afforded from the start. The game starts you with 20 characters with another 20 locked firmly behind a paywall in the form of a DLC. What is frustrating is the inclusion of these paywalled characters in the game’s episodes mode with full move sets attached.
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle doesn’t come with a whole lot of modes; however, the crux of the game lies in its online mode. You explore the online lobby in a chibi style avatar and find matches by finding waiting opponents with a free platform beside them. If you need more of a challenge, ranked matchmaking will always find you a worthy contender. With the games more simplified mechanics you will find that even though an opponent may continuously beat you down, you will learn exactly what you’re doing wrong and will be able to improve your game through patience and perseverance.
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Tournament is an ArcSys fighter reimagined. A charming roster of characters, a simplified, yet intuitive, battle system and a great online mode makes this fighter a cut above many. A lack of modes and paywalled characters only slightly dampen the charisma and allure of this fighter.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*