(Note: PS4 Review Code Provided by PQube)
The draw of the game speaks for itself: Take characters from popular anime fighting game series like Blazblue, Under Night in Birth and Persona 4 Arena, add the four protagonists from the hit animated series RWBY (Later Arcana Heart and a potential sixth series) and have them all clash in frantic and flashy 2D tag team battles. Question is whether the combat and content are enough to warrant a purchase. Find out as we take a look at Blazblue Cross Tag Battle.
Note 1: This review is by a casual fighting game aficionado so do not expect an in depth breakdown of the combat mechanics. Just a look at what to expect from the game.
Note 2: This review mainly covers offline content.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, PC
Developer: Arc System Works, French Bread
Genre: 2 vs 2 2D Fighter
Length: Episode Modes can last from 45 minutes to an hour per series.
Plot Summary: A mysterious force warps characters from four universes to face each other in tag team matches, acquiring the necessary “Keystones” from one another in hopes of returning to their own world.
It is that simple. The main draw of the Episode/Story Mode is seeing the interactions between characters, leading to some amusing moments, and the overenthusiastic and shady host chiming in with her self amusing remarks. Do not expect much depth or complexity compared to the stories of the represented series. It is more fanservice (More so the interaction in the story and before/after the matches than sexiness apart from certain characters) than anything else, which is not a bad thing.
Moving on the presentation. Apart from the four RWBY girls (and potential other representatives) the majority of the playable characters from BB, P4A and UNiB received little changes to their character sprites apart from interactions and a few moves. It is thankfully nowhere near as bad as Capcom Fighting Evolution, which looked like a Mugen fan game sold on consoles. Basically they already look good so no major issues there. The main soundtrack has some decent original tunes whereas the rest are the theme songs of the characters, including Team RWBY using their own tunes from their series. The battle arenas are serviceable but not eye candy enough to take a break from the action and marvel at. The user interface is also serviceable but like the arenas nothing noteworthy.
As far as offline single player content goes do not expect much here. Besides the Episode Mode there are the traditional Vs CPU, Training, Tutorial and Survival Modes. Once again it has less content than the represented series (BB, P4A and UNiB). To get the most out of this one Multiplayer is the way to go. There are at least chibi avatars, character colors and icons available for purchase with in-game currency.
Now we move on to the meat and potatoes of the game, the combat. As mentioned BBTAG is a 2D 2 vs 2 fighter. There are two kinds of team fighting games: Elimination (Beat all team members to win the round) and One Fall (One fighter goes down, the whole team loses the round). BBTAG uses the Elimination style. Like other well known fighters with 3 vs 3 Modes such as the Marvel vs Capcom series, King of Fighters 2003 and XI, and Skullgirls BBTAG is a fast paced spectacle where team attacks and assists are encouraged. Like Marvel vs Capcom 3, most characters have a small health bar so expect quick knockouts early on before possibly choosing to take on more experienced players that take a bit more time to go down. While the game has its own spin on the team battle format (how often partner attacks can be used, switching control with your partner during an assist move and timed team combos to name a few of the many features) it is at its core a 2D Tag Team fighter with Double Supers, Assists, air combos and juggles that in the hands of expert players can lead to quick KOs without the need of a Super Move. One thing worth noting for fans of BB, P4A and UNiB as individual games, do not expect characters from certain series to play like they would in their own games. For example, while Yu Narukami has most of his moveset intact do not expect him to have all his gimmicks from the P4A games. Like most fighting games BBTAG is easy to learn but difficult to master. One trip down the Tactics/Tutorial Mode and players will learn the basics but as usual going online regardless of whether the player wins or loses, experience is key to getting good at this one. Take notes of what works and what does not with your favorite character, ask people willing to give some pointers or be sparring partners to help better yourself. So yes. Basically like almost every fighting game in existence.
Lastly there is the well known controversy surrounding the character roster. Put simply half of the main roster (Pre-Season 2 DLC) is locked behind a DLC paywall. This would not have been an issue were it not for three blemishes:
- Several of the DLC characters are ones usually available from the start in their respective games.
- Some of the DLC characters are opponents in Episode Mode.
- If the characters were still being worked on after the main game was released this would have not been as big of an issue but data mining revealed the pre Season 2 characters were already in the game, thus the outrage.
The VERY small consolation is that nowadays both the base game and Deluxe Edition are not as expensive as they used to be. That along with Blake and Yang being free DLC.
Overall BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle is an enjoyable fighter with plenty of fan service for fans of BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena and Under Night in Birth. It also brings its own spin to the 2D Tag Team fighting sub genre. However, to get the most out of the game, Multiplayer is where it is at. While there is some Single Player content it is not much compared to other modern fighters and even the main series represented (besides RWBY). Recommended to fans of the represented series, players looking for a good tag team fighter and, fans like me who were drawn in by the inclusion of Team RWBY.
Note for Team RWBY fans:
- Ruby and Blake are the easier of the two to use whereas Weiss and Blake take some getting used to.
- Team RWBY here are based on their Pre-Volume 3 appearances.