BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is a 2D fighting game that brings together four anime style properties. Though is it more than just fan service? Honestly, yes, it’s a bit more than that. Though I did come away feeling a bit empty.
Why did I feel empty? When I last played I hadn’t had lunch… Also, it had something to do with the bare bones game modes and a combat system that felt like it had gone on a diet after being on a binge of rich, juicy foods and we had been left with some tasty if not very little portions of fun.
For the uninitiated let’s give a rundown of what the game contains and how I got on playing on the PS4 (also available on the Switch and PC). The game’s roster comprises four different franchises, obviously, you’ve got BlazBlue, a 2D fighting game. How do I feel about Blazblue on its own? Well, I played it for the first time on 3DS a while back and I completed an ending I pre-owned since I couldn’t stand the tedious boxes of long pointless dialogue that seemed to last longer than the gameplay.
This kind of killed what seemed like an interesting tale, so I guess it’s one to watch in anime or manga I suppose.
Next, we have RWBY, the anime style animation put out by Rooster Teeth about teenage kids training to be Hunters and Huntresses which has currently become my anime of the Summer as I work my through the seasons before it begins again the Autumn.
Then there are characters from Under Night In-Birth, a popular Japanese arcade game that got a home console release and managed to entertain for an afternoon and that’s about it.
Finally, characters from Persona 4 Arena appear. This is a fighting game that spins from the Persona game series. All I know about this one is from my friends who say the current installment is good and some cat is really annoying?
These four franchises make BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle. A 2D fighting game with that polished remastered aesthetic that Dragon Ball Fighter Z championed. Don’t worry it won’t be my first comparison to Dragon Ball Fighter Z…
So, you have your contenders. Now picture this, my friends, you’ve just sat through the opening movie which really gets you pumped as you realize four worlds are about to collide giving you so much choice for your tag team battles. Will Ruby from RWBY and Ragna be great in a team? Only one way to find out!
You go through the start menu and bang you’re in. I bet your first question will be… why do I have free roaming avatar that lets me walk to different areas of the map to access to game modes when I can press start and access them? Wow, if you thought that, we must be soulmates or something because that’s exactly what I thought. It’s the same thing I thought when playing Dragon Ball Fighter Z.
After I’ve left this question hanging, I did all the tutorials because I’m a good apple polisher. Though I don’t why I bothered since most of the combos and techniques don’t really apply if you can master the most basic of combos.
Next, I hit the versus mode to test my training and the combat. Overall, the combat in BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is quite bare with minimal moves available to emphasize skill as limited number moves makes it all about timing your strikes and your dodges along with your tags, all of which feels like a preparation for the online mode.
With most characters playing fairly similar, except for ones like Nu-13 from BlazBlue with her laser and rocket attacks, or Waldstein from Under Night whose moves resembles The Hulk with long retracting arms.
Your moves are quite limited I feel since your only two normal strikes are square and triangle and those are the only way to build up steam to do the cool stuff. Circle triggers a special attack, but you need to build energy up for that and finally, X changes your character.
R1 triggers your tagged out character to do a special attack which is a nice combo breaker though. Also, can we please go back to having a standard guard button? None of this pulling your left analog stick back because often I don’t block, I just move back and get hit. The combat itself feels like boxing; limited moves, but more skill and strategy is needed.
After reading up, it was time for BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle‘s story mode. Since you’re around BlazBlue’s house, you have to do the tutorials with their toys and play their campaign first. Though you can exit after the tutorial and play one of other franchises campaigns.
The story follows a bunch of characters from these four worlds who are kidnapped and left in another dimension with a weird force encouraging them to compete in a tag team tournament. Depending on which campaign you play, things work out a little differently but if the RWBY and Blazblue campaigns are anything to go by, it’s the same boss with the same outcome and everyone goes home just in time for tea.
Thankfully the cutscenes* in between battles are short with all voice actors bringing their A-game as they put maximum effort into their dialogue, though some voices do sound a wee bit interchangeable, especially for Under Night In-Birth which choose to cast English speaking actors despite having Japanese actors in their last game.
*I don’t know if you can describe what happens in between BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle‘s gameplay as a cutscene, really, as it does that cheap visual novel thing of having two character images on screen talking to each other. It’s a bit of let down from the opening movie but at least the voice acting props it up.
So of course, a story is nothing without its characters. After I did the BlazBlue campaign I moved onto RWBY.
RWBY fans may come away a bit let down since only two characters from the anime are included on the roster, Ruby, and Weiss. You can download Blake and Yang separately for free, which is a bit like buying a Fruit Corner Yogurt, getting the yogurt and then having to purchase the fruit for free.
Though the lack of characters in BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle may let some people down, they will enjoy the campaign as the stellar voice acting from the show is really on show here. No Persona or Undernight? Well, Undernight was a bore to play and I know little or nothing about Persona so they can wait for another day when I’m in-between games.
Out of the story, I next tried the survival mode which is a standard thing really, survive for as long as you can with your health not regenerating.
Finally, I moved to the online mode, I’m not really an online multiplayer guy and it seems like especially with fighting games people get good rather quick and you spend most of your time mashing buttons as your opponent plays their controller like a piano.
Though I got a few wins in playing as Blake and Yang (best RWBY combo in the game) against players with three-digit wins I do think this is the crux of the game and is considered the key replay mode as long as you have plenty of opponents.
I did notice, in general, most clashes between different players tend to go on three or two rounds and then they’d move on.
Delivering the final blow. This is how I’d break BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle down. Though the story mode didn’t feel like the priority, it is fun with an interesting story as the voice actors have some fun goading each over into combat.
If you’re an online player, you’ll be satisfied, but otherwise, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle offers about a week’s worth of single player gameplay with more story campaigns taking an hour and a half to do. Add in the lack of other modes and you will be scraping the barrel.