Arc System Works is fast becoming one of the very best fighting game developers of our time. Dragon Ball FighterZ was highly praised and an overall success, with a Nintendo Switch port coming very soon (see our review HERE). Hopefully, we will see more games from these guys on Nintendo’s powerful portable in the near future. Well, at least we can whet our appetites with Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle which is a 2D fighting game that is extracted from the same vein as the Guilty Gear series, with a few elements from other fighting games mixed in.
Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle mashes up the Blazblue universe with those of RWBY, Persona 4 and Under Night In-Birth, producing a crossover that nobody saw coming. The basis of the story mode is the typical trope of the characters from each universe being ripped from their home worlds by a sadistic AI to participate in a contest for a special jewel called a ‘Keystone’. This stone is the only way to return everything back to normal. Although the plot is cliché, it’s told pretty well. It’s boring to play through though as the cutscenes are basically just still image slideshows of the cast with voice actors playing their parts. There is no animation. Action sequences are just audible with no onscreen indication as to what’s going on. It’s a real shame as the story is separated into each universe, making it quite lengthy, but with no animation, it’s a slog.
The game itself though is as good as you would expect from Arc System Works. Standard 2D fighting with a simplified control system similar to Dragon Ball FighterZ and a tagging system used in many crossovers, such as Marvel Vs Capcom. It goes deeper than that description though with the inclusion of little mechanics that help change the tide of battles. Aside from the partner assist moves, which call your off-screen partner in to unleash a quick attack, you can have them assist in Super combos by simply pressing the right shoulder button halfway through executing one. Another way that Arc System Works has made Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle simple to get the hang of is the ease of performing combos. Like seen in Dragon Ball FighterZ, combos can be performed by repeatedly pressing a single button. My argument remains as it did with that game, this more accessible way to play these types of games opens up opportunities for spammers and button mashers. Luckily, it’s easy enough to block attacks and look for openers to begin your counter assault.
Losing your partner puts your special attack gauge into Resonance Mode which, when activated, enhances your attack strength, and you can even sacrifice this to pull off a high risk, high reward move called an Astral Technique. This one hit kill move is the most spectacular move in the game and ends the fight immediately if it connects.
Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle is primarily a Blazblue title; therefore, the majority of the characters are from that universe. Ragna the Bloodedge (wow, what a name), his brother Jin, Hazama, Noel and the demented Azrael clash with Persona 4 characters Chie, Yu, Yosuke and Yukiko, as well as RWBY characters Ruby and Weiss and Under Night characters Hyde, Lyne and the massive Waldstein and Gordeu. There’s plenty of variety, but I would have liked to have seen an equal amount of characters across all universes. What’s worse is that the DLC characters are featured in the story mode; however, you can only play as them by buying them. It’s a tease.
The standard modes are here: Training helps you get to grips with the game, Tactics Mode is the mix-up of a tutorial and missions, online and offline exhibitions are exactly what you’d expect and extras like a gallery. The only mode worth your time outside the story is the Survival Mode which only grants you a single lifebar for you to last as long as possible. The lack of an arcade mode of sorts is evident. Survival alone just doesn’t cut it.
So, Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle is the first Arc System Works game to hit the Switch, and it serves as a nice little starter to the main course that hits in September. It’s a fast-paced brawler with some fine 2D anime graphics and faultless frames per second. It looks lush on the Switch’s little screen. Arc System Works show time and time again that they can certainly make a fighting game, and while Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle is not perfect, it’s a fine brawler that you should have on your Switch if you’re a fan of the genre.
Developer: Arc System Works
Platforms: PS4, PC, Switch
Release Date: 22nd June 2018
For more information on Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle, visit the official website.