Ahhh… the warm embrace of a fighting game review. Oh how I love it! Most of the other games I review require so much time, but fighting games, oh they’re magnificent. All I have to do is complete their mostly linear campaigns, mess about in a few modes and done. Reviewing fighting games are the best and they’re even better if the game itself is good. So how is BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle?
Well that’s a complicated question to answer due to it being a complicated mixed bag of good and bad ideas. The good ideas are related to the game play, style, and music. The bad is mostly reserved for the roster, and plot.
So guess what? I’m starting with the bad and working my way to the good, because I believe we need to address the elephant in the room immediately. That elephant being the despicable practice of locking characters behind a paywall. Gone are the days of playing a finished product. A product that comes with all the pieces, no BS. Some of you may be too young to have experienced this, but back in my day… ahhh always wanted to say that… back in my day games would have a campaign and by playing it you’d unlock playable characters or other stuff. Back then we didn’t play for achievements or trophies, we played for completion, we played for fun. Things like colour pallets were standard, heck those were present on the first boot.
So you can imagine my surprise when I saw that the initial DLC for this game were colour swaps going for £2.49 quid, like seriously, colour swaps, what the frak Arc System Works? Who makes colour swaps paid DLC? Ew, just gross. The whole thing smells of disgusting overzealous greed, and this is coming from a fan. I love Arc System Works games. They’re arguably the best fighting games on the market today, but this, this is just simply ludicrous. Oh and they didn’t just stop there. They went the way of the on disc DLC bullocks that we’ve seen with titles like Street Fighter in the past. Even worse these on disc DLC characters are present during some of the story sections, and when I say present I mean full models and move-sets included.
Oh and I hear you, you defenders of filth, “bbb… but Q… those characters may not have been balanced yet. They may be updated and fixed when their DLC is released”. Oooooh you people, you people disgust me even more than the developers and publishers pulling these atrocious stunts. You are the reasons these things happen. This happens because you defend these practices. You condone them and then they become the norm, then when it becomes even worse you complain. Shitty practices in this industry are the fans fault, because gaming is a business, and at the end of the day if you affect a business’s bottom line then they will be forced to change or become obsolete. As a fan with a platform I’m saying no, no this is disgusting, and I expect better from my favorite developers and publishers.
For more context, allow me to elaborate. The game is a mix match of 4 different franchises. Persona, BlazBlue, RWBY, and Under Night In-Birth. The main plot focuses on characters from each of these series being brought together in a dimension created by an Ai to do battle so that it can gather data on them to invade their respective universes. Oh wait, did I just spoil the plot? Oh my… some people are not gonna wanna get it now. Well, such is life I guess. I’m usually oh so careful to avoid plot so that players can experience it themselves. Let’s hope this doesn’t become a bad practice that becomes worse over time.
The game features 4 plots from the perspective of the main character of each series. These 4 plots are not very well written, but the voice work is magnificent. Why I say they’re not well written is because there is a lot of wasted potential with each of them. They’re also not connected outside of the overall Ai invading universes plotline. It’s got potential, but sadly that’s all wasted. The most wasted being the RWBY campaign, due to only two characters from the series being playable at launch. Like how do you have RWBY and not put at the very least all 4 of the main characters into the game at launch, how?
Also, please note that I do know that the other two RWBY characters were released as free DLC post release, but in my time with the game they were not available in the EU store, just the NA version.
The Persona plotline is the second most offensive with both Naoto and Kanji not playable but showing up during the campaign in all their glory. Agis also receives the same treatment unfortunately, so yea it’s a lot. As for the Blazblue cast, well it’s pretty robust. In all there are 20 playable characters. 2 from RWBY, 4 from Persona, and the rest are a mix of the other two franchises with the majority being BlazBlue characters.
The developer plans on releasing 20 more characters as DLC in packs of 3 each costing $5. so let’s do the math shall we. That’s $50 dollars for the base game, 20 divided by 3 will give us 6.6 so lets say 7. So 5 multiplied by 7 will give us 35, and If we add that 35 to the initial 50 we get a grand total of $85. There was a similar thing with Dragon Ball FighterZ, but at least the dlc characters were not on disc or present during the main plot.
The DLC practices and only the DLC practices are what pissed me off about this game. Though the plot wasn’t great, and I noted that it’s not the main reason most play fighting games. We mainly play for the game play and characters. The former is exceptional. Attacks are mapped to the face buttons Y,X,A with the B button serving as the character swap button. I played on the switch, however I assume the mapping is similarly represented on other platforms.
Moves are easy to learn and combos are quite easy to execute. While playing I found myself pulling off some insane looking combos with characters I’d never played with and ooooh did it feel good. Characters like Ruby and Yosuke were simply magnificent as they teleported across the screen dealing devastating damage as they moved. Each character felt uniquely different, but satisfying to use. Similar to Dragon Ball FighterZ, this is perfect for beginners while hiding it’s complexities well enough for veterans to enjoy. These complexities come in the form of the cross Tag battle system which allows players to summon their support character in numerous ways. Mastering this system is the difference between beginner and pro.
The game is also filled with some of the most awesome fanservice you’ll find in a fighting game, especially if you’re a fan of all or even just some of the series represented this game. Throughout every facet of the game we get these juicy moments with characters referencing things that fans will wholeheartedly appreciate. Moments like Ruby fawning over weapons, or Chie’s appreciation for strong female fighters were simply wonderful.
The voice work is as mentioned before, exceptional. The English dub is so good that I never changed it during my time with the game. In fact a lot of the cutscenes are very long, so hitting that auto play and relaxing made it feel like I was watching a crossover anime with some of my favorite characters.
The modes are also very robust with multiple ways of playing offline, and online. Offline you have the campaigns, training mode, V.S. Mode, tactics Mode (basically a tutorial mode), survival and Gallery/replay. During online play you can join the public lobbies, create or join private rooms, and play ranked. I managed to play the casual lobby matches and wrecked a couple folks, “feels proud”.
The game also has one of those weird walking around avatar hub areas that I can’t stand. Thankfully it also has a standard menu system which allows for easy access to mode… you know what I’m talking about this, because I’m really convinced developers are focused too much on these lame hub areas when they should be working on making more characters for these fighting games. Like what serious player is mucking about in these modes after the initial wow moment is over. For me the wow moment lasted a split second as I exasperatedly said, “serious, this again”.
Anywho, back to the good stuff… The music is one of the main attractions of this title. The stages all have different tunes that will grip fans immediately. I especially loved the RWBY music that is included in the game. I kid you not, when I first heard it I was shouting and doing little fist pumps in the air out of excitement.
Man I love me some RWBY!
This is an unfinished product being sold at full price then charging even more for the complete package. What makes this even worse is that the actual gameplay, visuals and voice acting is really good. If just looking at those aspects of the game then I’d easily recommend it, but unfortunately that’s not possible. The gross practices displayed by Arc System Works with this title far out weight the positives. The disturbing manner in which the DLC is handled from the insulting on disc characters to the exclusions of primary characters, and colour swaps I can’t in good conscience recommend this game. If you do get it then wait on a vastly reduced sale, or a definitive edition that comes with all the missing pieces that should have been included with this release.
The copy of BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle used for this review was provided to us by it’s Publisher, PQube.