BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle Review

by Jason Parker (Ragachak)

I’m only really new to one of the franchises in BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, and that’s RWBY. Haven’t really followed the series, but I know the characters from the last RWBY game I played. But I do love BlazBlue, Under Night: In-Birth, and Persona 4. In fact, Persona 4’s my favorite in the series. So when I saw that these series were going to come to life in a 2v2 anime fighter from ArcSys, my hype levels were very high. But before I jump into the mechanics and how I feel about the actual gameplay, I’m very disappointed it’s also going to go the route of “lots of DLC characters”, which is the current trend. At least it won’t do what Dragon Ball FighterZ is, and have the exact same two characters in update after update. Yes, I’m tired of seeing different versions of Goku and Vegeta. Who knew? However, the cast at launch is decent, providing a ton of options for team-ups, and there really is something for every kind of fighting game fan.

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I’ve found tons of people to play with at all hours of the day.

BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle brings aboard the beginner-friendly auto-combos, where you can do fairly basic, but decent damage combos by simply mashing A or B (Square or Triangle by default on the PS4).  This is also a five-button game: A, B, C, and D. A and B are your basic attack buttons, C is Clash, D is Change, and P is Partner. Much like in the Marvel vs. series, the P button will bring your partner in for one of three attacks (Neutral, Forward or Back + P), and at the cost of 50% of your Cross Gauge, they can perform an Active Partner Skill while your current character is also performing an action. You can really pair anyone with anyone else, but there is synergy to be found with certain gameplay styles/characters. BB: CTB has pretty much everything a fighting game player could want: Push Blocking, Throw Teching, Reversal Actions, Tags, Sweeps, and an X-Factor style mode, in Resonance Blaze. When you’re down to one character, you can hit P to enter this mode, where for 15 seconds, you power-up. You automatically gain Skill Gauge, red health is recovered, chip damage is increased, and more. You become a damage dealing machine, as long as you can get hits in.

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Can’t escape from crossing steaks! I mean! Persona! Huzzah!

It also has a fairly robust tutorial, where you learn all the basics of the game itself, as well as an option to go into every character and learn combos, abilities, and what makes them tick. The combos don’t seem as viable to me, but I’m used to insane button inputs for anime fighters, Blazblue in particular. I’d like to know “when” these combos would be viable, but that might be a little too much. However, the greatest lesson to be had when trying to get into a game like this is not the tutorial, not getting into training mode – It’s going online. One of the best players I know warned me about something when I got into the Blazblue series, and it stands true here – Don’t waste time in ranked. If you want to play against people and get better, go into the online casual lobbies. That’s where all the skilled players are. BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is an incredible game with sharp mechanics, amazing characters, but it’s definitely going to be a challenge to master. All ArcSys games (hell, all fighting games really) are like that.

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Gotta grind hard to get good.

The only serious negative in the books for BB: CTB is that approximately half the cast is locked behind paid DLC, and we’ve known that for about a year now. Those DLC characters do appear in the story mode, so that tells me they’re all there, and able to be played, but locked behind a DLC paywall which reminds me of Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now. So many fighting games these days leap to the DLC character list, and a few characters, I’m probably not going to argue. Tekken 7 had what, three? But Street Fighter V is working on their third full season of characters, and it is not a business model that I agree with on a personal level. Though speaking of the story, I can’t really talk about it here in this review, but it is pretty damn funny and worth a spin around. It seems to be less complicated than your standard BlazBlue storyline, which to me is a godsend. I still don’t really know everything about the BB story, except that it’s nuts, and that Terumi is a pretty giant dick.

Can’t Escape from Crossing Fate: 4/5

I seriously love this game. I mean, really. There’s so much fanservice and love for each of these series, and you can tell hard work was put into the creation of it. The gameplay is so smooth, and while I have a lot to learn, I’m going to enjoy doing it. Though I do want to share something that a good and dear friend send to me. I get very frustrated when learning a fighting game because I (like many others) get wrapped up in “trying to win”.  Trying to Win has ruined a number of games for me because they no longer feel “fun” because I’m not focusing on what’s important. I’m here to learn and grow – winning is just the icing on the cake. I would get so wrapped up this week, seeing players with 80 wins and I’m here just trying to get one or two. Learning is a process, and with thanks to Takanub, and Core-A Gaming, I’m rediscovering what matters. I’m glad BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle landed in my lap because now I have something to study and practice that will help me grow as a player, and as a person. With that said, this game is incredible, outside of the DLC debacle. That is a hill I won’t back down from, and I’m sincerely disappointed so many characters are DLC right out of the gate. Outside of that, it’s a wonderful game and has a lot to offer fans of the 2D fighting genre.

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