BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma (PlayStation 3) Review

By Az Elias 14.08.2014 3

Review for BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma on PlayStation 3

It's always a long wait from the moment the next arcade BlazBlue instalment is released until the eventual European console version. November 2012 was when the third main entry of the series, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, hit Japanese arcades, but time certainly flies, and Arc System Works finally got the 2D anime fighter localised and up on the PS3 online store in April this year. No retail release in Europe this time around, but it's fully deserving of parting ways with the cash for.

The biggest pull of BlazBlue for most fans of the series is the extensive and rather confusing story it provides. Whilst still accommodating a plethora of modes to do battle in, the plot, with all of its totally out there Latin and Japanese naming conventions, different timeline scenarios and unashamed attempts at jokily covering almost all typical anime tropes in both character designs and dialogue, is an area that is unmatched for depth compared to the vast majority of other fighting games. Needless to say, this is one of the main reasons it takes so long for BlazBlue titles to get localised.

The plot of BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma continues to follow the 'Ragna the Bloodedge' chain of events, picking up after the end of previous entry BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, as the huge cast of characters comes together to attempt to defeat the Imperator. The story mode is split up into three scenarios - Six Heroes, Sector Seven, and Chrono Phantasma - unlike the previous game where each character could be chosen to play out its individual story. The more linear approach to working through the narrative might be simpler, but this is at the cost of many characters not getting much screen time at all throughout the main game.

This is equally evident for many of the newly-introduced playable characters. Bullet, Amane, and Azrael seem to be playing bit part roles, and fully deserved to have their backgrounds fleshed out further. Continuum Shift's individual stories format would have worked wonders for them. Izayoi and Kagura Mutsuki make up the rest of the new cast, with Kokonoe and Terumi available as DLC. Celica and Lambda-11 are due to enter the Japanese arcade version in the near future, so expect them to also come to console at some point.

Screenshot for BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma on PlayStation 3

The story is still a rather difficult one to wrap the head around at times, and despite the severely comical, fourth wall-breaking, chibi-styled Teach Me, Miss Litchi! history lessons, they are simply no match for actually going back to play the past games themselves to get a refresh. There are so many unorthodox terms and phrases involved, as well as the element of timelines that it's just tough to know at times what is going on and where. What would have been extremely useful is the Library Mode that was included in the Japanese console version - a glossary of familiar words, terminologies and events designed to offer in-depth knowledge about the BlazBlue universe. It would have been such a beneficial and appreciated feature if it could have been translated to English. It's understandable why this didn't happen, but is regrettable all the same.

Despite the sometimes convolutedness of it all, the plot is still as engaging as it has always been. The opening segments do begin rather slowly, and the distinct lack of many fights really means too much time is spent watching and reading scenes play out, but at around the halfway point, things really begin to pick up, and battles become more prominent and meaningful. There is the case that this entry isn't quite as dark as previous games; there seems to be more friendliness between certain characters this time, but the humour is as prominent as ever. Gag reels aren't too plentiful, unfortunately, but what is there never fails to amuse, with throwbacks and plays on clichés in abundance. Many jokes are spread throughout the main campaign, anyway, which keeps the serious side of the game in check.

When it is serious, though, it's great. It's just a shame that the anime cut-scenes are on the short side and only appear towards the back end of the story, because they are absolutely brilliant, really driving home the improvements in artistic design over previous instalments and looking like a proper anime TV series. If they were longer and there were more of them spread over the course of the story, it would have pushed the quality of the plot up another level.

Screenshot for BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma on PlayStation 3

Mechanically, all characters have received changes since the last game, gaining new moves and generally playing differently to their Continuum Shift counterparts, essentially putting everyone on near enough the same level playing field. The new Overdrive function replaces Gold Burst, able to be used once its meter fills over time, and grants new character-specific abilities and increased power. The other main change is Crush Trigger taking the place of Guard Primer, which uses heat to crush and deal high damage to a blocking opponent.

It's always recommended that even experienced BlazBlue fighters check out the in-depth tutorials on offer, as well as newcomers, as these cover a huge range of bases, including the new mechanics. What's more, the instructions are again read out by the characters of the game, providing some laughter along the road and saving it from getting too boring. Strategies and challenges for all characters also exist, so there is definitely no lack of effort gone in to delivering a profound guide for all player types.

In terms of modes, it's essentially the same as before. Aside from the aforementioned story and guaranteed Arcade and Versus modes, Abyss, Score Attack and the super hard Unlimited Mars modes return. Unfortunately, the only new mode is one that is based around the final boss of the story due to how different it is to the standard and enclosed character versus character formula. Known as Highlander Assault Mode, it deserves its own category for offering this twist in battle style, and whilst very challenging and frustrating, it is one to be thankful for being included. More fighting titles need to try something a little different like this.

Screenshot for BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma on PlayStation 3

Online modes are in full force, and there's a lot to be pleased about. Lobbies are presented in a cute retro style arcade, where battle stations can be walked up to and jumped on to wait for a challenger, before the real fight begins. Personal profiles can be created to detail preferred play times, jazz avatars up and add titles; friend and block lists can be made; and voice and text chat is fully implemented. With ranked, non-ranked and friend lobbies, plus the ability to save replays, the Network Mode is very comprehensive and extremely active.

If there are going to be any further complaints, it would have to be the music test being completely removed from the Western version's Gallery Mode despite the text being left in the main menu that soundtracks can be listened to, and that further original artwork could have been made purchasable. Unlockable content besides the images seems to be lacking, and there are hardly any rewards for beating various modes and completing difficult tasks - not even trophies much of the time - so there aren't always incentives to strive to fulfil them.

It wouldn't come as a huge surprise to see an Extend version of BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma in the future, complete with a couple of new and better modes, more unlockables, and perhaps even with DLC characters built in, but that is likely to be quite some time away. In that regard, it is well worth jumping in with Chrono Phantasma now, and enjoying the still content-heavy package and embracing the latest part of this engrossing story that no other fighter offers.

Screenshot for BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Rarely does a fighting game put such effort into its story, but BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma once again expands on its continuously evolving universe, making the narrative one of the core reasons to get involved with this series. Lamentably, one too many characters do get brushed aside, and the new combatants aren't given the needed focus; it still feels like there is much more to come from various directions of the plot as a whole. There's no disputing, though, that the main draw of the game is indeed in its complex plot, which balances its seriousness and comedy value very well. The majority of modes have been seen before, but that doesn't devalue the amount of content; it simply means the call for new modes and awards for completing them is stronger. With its solid anime-styled storyline and a sterling and satisfying 2D combat system, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma has all bases covered for both fans of in-depth plots and fighting games alike.

Developer

Arc System Works

Publisher

Arc System Works

Genre

Fighting

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I played BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend a good while ago and got 100% on all stories, then I pretty much immediately dropped it because I'm shit at fighting games and lack motivation to get better. Honestly, I kind of pretended it was a visual novel with some fights in between and it was still totally worth it. I remember actually rolling around on my couch and laughing my ass off, during at least one or two joke endings. Can't think of any other game that's accomplished that. XD

Might get this at some point, though digital only isn't exactly enticing me. Maybe there'll be a good price on US import copies sometime...

( Edited 15.08.2014 02:48 by SirLink )

They'll probably bring a physical copy out eventually that's the complete edition or something like that. Great review Az!

Nintendo Network ID: LKR000               PSN: LKR000     
3DS: 1246-8696-120                              GT: LKR101

I love the BlazBlue series as both a fighting game and as a story, but god knows I bought Continuum Shift 3 times in order to stay up to date with the mechanics and stories and the worry of that happening again has totally put me off buying this.. Arc's absolutely abhorrent treatment of Europe doesn't help.

I really want it, but they just announced 2 new characters that probably won't be DLC. Looks like I'll be waiting for the inevitable updated Extend version, haha.

( Edited 16.08.2014 19:04 by SuperLink )

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