BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle Review: 4th World
Kalvin Martinez / Jul 6th, 2018 No Comments
Arc System Works has been putting out fighting game excellence for the past two decades. Through original series such as Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, the developer has a fighting game pedigree that is hard to rival.
Its latest titles are the developer’s try at tag team combat. This year’s Dragon Ball FighterZ is a sublime three-on-three fighter that not only matches its predecessors, it exceeds them.
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle sees the developer attempt to put its stamp on two-versus-two tag team combat. To that end, it delivers a fluid and fast-paced fighter that captures the delightful chaos of a tag team battle. A driving force behind Cross Tag Battle is an eye on accessibility. While that is a focus, it doesn’t prevent the gameplay from being deep.
Where Am I?
Four universes have been displaced and the best fighters from each have been brought together in a world that is sort of like their own. A mysterious voice has given four chosen warriors a keystone to protect. Each warrior has been told to gain three other keystones from other warriors from different universes if they wish to return home. That task proves to be easier in theory than practice.
As each fighter tries to track down the other keystones, they come into conflict with others eager to gain their keystones. Whether the combatants are from their own universe or an unfamiliar one, they are intent on separating the keystones from their owners by any means necessary.
Turns out everyone has been given conflicting information about the keystones and returning home from the mysterious voice.
The questions you have won’t be “where am I?” or “how do I get home?” but “why was I brought here?” and “what’s the purpose of the keystones?” Answering these questions and figuring out who the mysterious voice is are hugely important to returning everyone back to their own universes.
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle’s narrative is set up with multiple episodes corresponding with each universe involved in the crossover. This allows you to see events from different angles and put together what is a more complex story than it appears at first. This plot allows for different character interactions across separate universes.
Some of these unique meetups allow for the quirks of each universe to shine. While all the universes are somewhat similar, it is their differences that become magnified during these interactions. Characters from opposing worlds act as foils to one another — like the RWBY girls and Persona cast being much more grounded if not more ridiculous than the In-Birth and Blazblue casts.
One of the most memorable episodes in the game involves Ragna, Waldstein and Kanji. It is a hilarious encounter where they all ponder the meaning of being manly. It is the best example of how the characters from separate universes play off each other while also mocking the idea of masculinity.
The moderator is a fantastic character that acts as a perfect instigator who needles fighters from other worlds to achieve her means. She is not simply an antagonist, but an idiosyncratic entity with plenty of personality and humor. This character shows great depth when dealing with the game’s various protagonists.
A recent trend in fighting games is a push for more accessibility. It is a push to appeal to a wider audience than simply the core fighting game audience, which is very niche. The drawback of this approach is a lack of depth turning off the core fighting game crowd and being too complex for novices to gain an entry point.
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle manages to walk the fine line between the two to deliver nuanced gameplay that is easy to pick up and play but offers plenty of depth for those aiming to dig further into it. In many ways, Cross Tag Battle plays similarly to BlazBlue, which isn’t surprising.
The controls should be familiar to any seasoned BlazBlue player, and are easy to pick up for newbies. Controls have been simplified to two attack buttons: attack A and B, which have their own smart combos associated with them. Even with smart combos available, there are plenty of technical combos that require more complex directional inputs, air or crouching considerations to open up high level play.
What’s new to consider is the two-on-two aspect and the mechanics that are unique to this setup. Not only can you tag your partner in at any time with the press of a button (switching partners frequently is a good strategy to recover health), but you have unique tag actions to utilize. Both partner actions and clash attacks are thrown into the mix for Cross Tag Battle. By invoking a partner action, you can double your offense at the expense of leaving your partner vulnerable to attack.
Clash attacks are a little safer to use because you setup your opponent for a strong dual attack between both of your characters. Timing is key for clash attacks. As your opponent falls to the ground, pressing the clash attack again will do more damage when timed properly. All of these tag mechanics add a lot more chaos to the proceedings, making it stand out from other BlazBlue games.
The combat feels like a blend of BlazBlue: Central Fiction’s normal and stylish controls. It is a happy medium that is further aided by the cool two-on-two tag mechanics and the diverse roster.
While the initial roster is solid, the season pass and the six character packs that come with it is necessary to enjoy the game fully. For $19.99, the added value is immediate. The season pass adds many unique fan-favorite fighters from the jump, not to mention more coming in the future. With the added fighters, you can create more dynamic matchups between the different series’ characters.
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is some of the best two-on-two tag team fighting around. The accessibility of the gameplay doesn’t betray the depth of combat, but the lack of an arcade mode is hard to overlook. However, despite some minor shortcomings, Cross Tag Battle is a lot of fun due to a great story mode and fluid gameplay.
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle and the Season Pass were reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code from the developer.
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