Developed by ArcSystem Works
Published by ArcSystem Works, PQube
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (also available on Nintendo Switch and Steam)
Announced during a surprise reveal trailer at EVO 2017, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is a tag team battle game featuring four franchises: BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-birth, and, more surprisingly, RWBY. I’ve been wanting a crossover game with Under Night and BlazBlue for a while so I was very much ready for the crossing of fates featuring a few of my favorite games. How did ArcSystem Works blend these four very different games together? The results are some what mixed.
Cross Tag Battle is familiar and new at the same time. You build a team of two that allows you to switch between them mid battle and use assist attacks. Each character has three different assists, the ability to interrupt attacks, and chain supers. Knowing what each character can do will be absolutely necessary to build a good team. A new control scheme is implemented and establishes a good balance between simplicity and depth. Two buttons are used for regular moves, a button for sweeps and cross assault, a switch button, and a button to use assist attacks. Using familiar characters with this new control scheme took very little time to adapt. After a short time I was able to do combos that were competent enough and the started adding in assists. I was also pleasantly surprised that the two auto combos each character can use are not especially egregious. None of the auto combos end in supers and it is possible to change to the second combo anytime during the first. The special motions have been reduced to fireball motions: forward, back,and a single button to perform supers. I had a concern that characters would be too limited but this approach was clearly well thought out and the execution is excellent. DragonBall FighterZ set this trend and this game is clearly built further on it.
Apart from the core fighting, Cross Tag Battle feels just a tad light on content in some ways. The entire cast with the exception of the RWBY cast are reused from previous games. Not only do you have sprites that are recycled but the stages and music, including character themes, are re-purposed as well. While the reuse will come off as a bit cheap to some, it is still pretty cohesive given the quality of the prior works. The Switch version performs as well as the PS4 version, but does have slight issues with sprite scaling for the non RWBY characters. There is also the usual suite of training, combo challenges, and tutorials. The game lacks a basic arcade mode which is rather disappointing considering Arc’s history.
The story mode is presented in typical visual novel fashion. The characters are thrown into a virtual world against their wills and must fight to gather and protect “keystones”. A mysterious (and often hilarious) voice tells each group to do something different and chaos ensues. It’s great to have the English voice cast from BlazBlue return, their absence was felt from Central Fiction. The writing isn’t especially deep but I definitely got hit with some grade A jokes. The localization teams at ArcSys and PQube deliver an excellent localization that successfully blends the various personalities from all four games. It’s not always the most coherent experience, but it’s definitely not boring either.
The game also has online connectivity and was able to play a few matches despite the limited amount of people online pre-release. Thankfully I got a good handful and the connectivity varied. Almost every match I played ended in a disconnect. No Issues during actual gameplay though. I’ll report back after launch for more details.
Overall though BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle is a decent game. It has a fantastic cast of character from different franchises that gel very well together. The core mechanics are fun to learn and the simplified control scheme works great. That’s the first half of what you can ask for any fighter. The remainding content is a bit light beyond your staple modes but the game is already being offered at a discounted price.