BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma is the third core game in the series. Considering not much changed between Calamity Trigger and Continuum Shift, does this game drive the series to progress or cause it to stagnate? Luckily for Arc System Works, working out the kinks in two remakes of Continuum Shift has allowed this series to move forward.
BlazBlue has always been one of the prettier fighting games out there. Guilty Gear was the pinnacle of sprite work of its time, and Arc System Works continues the trend, making BlazBlue shine in the HD era. The highly-detailed sprites and beautiful 3D backgrounds blend seamlessly together. What’s great about this game is the unique look of each character. No two characters feel the same and are all animated with great detail, shown both during the action and in hand-drawn images used in the story mode.
What’s unusual for a fighting game is that the story is really long. I mean “rivaling JRPGs” long. From beginning to end, if you set the text advance to automatic and listen to the amazing voice cast in Japanese or English, the story mode will last about 40 hours. If you’re not up to snuff on the story or lore of the previous games, skits in “Teach Me, Miss Litchi!” will get you up to speed.
Picking up where Continuum Shift left off, the story is split into three different segments: The Six Heroes, Chrono Phantasma and Sector Seven. All three come together in one true ending. Individual character storylines are dropped, in favor of a single (albeit confusing) plot that contains episodes revolving around specific characters.
Story mode aside, several other changes have been brought upon the series. The fighting is much faster. The new pace forces players to react to familiar situations more quickly, making matches that much more exciting to watch. Replacing the Burst system featured prominently in previous entries is the Overdrive system. Similar to Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s X-Factor, this new mechanic brings character-specific advantages to the table.
For example, Valkenhayn’s wolf form charges much faster, and Tager’s Overdrive forces his magnetism on opponents. Certain characters have their old Distortion Drives become their new Overdrive, such as Ragna and Bang. A guard crush mechanic called the Crush Trigger is also introduced, allowing players to shatter the opponent’s guard and stun them for a short time, or deal significant damage to their barrier meter.
In addition to all the changes, a handful of new playable characters have been added. Included from the start are five new characters, and two others join in as DLC. Terumi is included with retail copies, and Kokonoe was a pre-order bonus for the digital version. All characters that were DLC in the previous game are now part of the default roster.
Lastly, the game’s challenge mode (introduced in Continuum Shift) has undergone some changes and taken notes from Persona 4 Arena. Instead of having ten challenge missions with several combos packed into each segment, each character now has 30 different missions, splitting them into different sections with progressing difficulty. This new setup caters to both beginners and veterans. Considering how each character plays differently, challenge mode provides a great way to learn your character, discover techniques and find combo strings.
Online play in Chrono Phantasma is also extremely solid. As it’s still running with the netcode from the previous games, there’s only a slight bit of lag, if any at all. Online matches felt smooth; I didn’t come across many issues unless I fought a player from another country.
There’s definitely something for everyone in this game. From the unique cast to the lengthy story, Arc System Works managed to cover all the bases needed for a solid fighter. Hopefully we’ll see more from BlazBlue soon.
Pros: Beautiful visuals, detailed story mode, solid online, tight mechanics
Cons: Story might be a little convoluted