BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend (PlayStation 4) Review

By Az Elias 27.08.2015

Review for BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend  on PlayStation 4

BlazBlue has been a consistently solid competitive anime fighter, right through to its third mainline entry last year, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma. Anyone familiar with the series wouldn't win any prizes for assuming an improved and bolstered Extend edition would eventually see the light of day, and some wise folk may well have held off purchasing the vanilla version, knowing they would get more value for money by waiting for this one. The first BlazBlue title on PlayStation 4, is Chrono Phantasma Extend a worthy update?

Competing against anime-centric fighting games is a difficult task, but duking it out with sister titles from the same developer is another matter entirely. It's a wonder how Arc System Works manages to balance the three main franchises it's running with at the moment - that of Persona 4 Arena, Guilty Gear and BlazBlue. Rather like with other yearly franchises, crowds move from one title to the next, as the big three take it in turns to engage their fans for the months following release. Guilty Gear Xrd's unique visual design and complex fighting system allows its franchise revival to stand apart from the others, but it's clear that it is always a battle between these Arc System Works series for genre supremacy.

BlazBlue, many would argue, remains at the peak of the pile. The series admirably keeps itself going that bit longer than its siblings. Polished, competitive, content-heavy and full of fan service, BlazBlue guarantees all of this on top of some of the best and most enjoyable 2D fighting around. That's not to mention how mental its story is, which does admittedly have its pros and cons. There is no lack for effort in trying to cram stuff onto that disc and satisfy customers, though - even if that does sound slightly ironic when "extended" versions come around a year later. Such is the way of the fighting genre.

Screenshot for BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend  on PlayStation 4

With BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend, everything that was available in the stripped down original iteration of the third mainline entry is once again present in this update. Cubed3's review of the original version last year went into depth on the content and storyline, which gives a good opportunity to recap some of what has been carried over and what's new in the Extend release.

It's pretty standard, really. Previous DLC characters Kokonoe and Terumi are playable from the get-go, and two new additions in the form of Celica and Lambda-11 enter the arena to up the roster count slightly. The wait goes on to battle it out with the likes of Nine and Junpei (although Nine is confirmed to be playable in the next edition, Central Fiction), but these are welcome and highly-called-for combatants, with fun and flashy move-sets. Celica makes for a great entry-level character with her strong and easy-to-perform strikes, and Lambda-11 now uses a mode that Nu-13 once was able to switch to. With Lambda-11 entering the cast here, it means both her and Nu-13 are now available for selection in the same game, albeit with separate sets of moves that remove any way to switch modes, as Nu-13 was able to do in the past.

Screenshot for BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend  on PlayStation 4

It can be argued that some older characters have been made slightly more difficult to use compared to their Continuum Shift or Calamity Trigger counterparts, simply for the sake of it, which doesn’t go down well with combatants like Noel. The system as a whole is also difficult to grasp, which is why the newbie-friendly Stylish mode, which allows strong combos to be performed by tapping a few buttons, is a welcome feature - button mashers will be able to get through the story with ease using it. The flipside is that any BlazBlue amateurs will be able to give the pros a tough time, making matches pretty unbalanced.

Three new plot scenarios - focusing on Kokonoe, Bullet, and Kagura - now help to give a lot more background to these characters and how they fit into the overall crazy BlazBlue story arc. They were badly needed in Chrono Phantasma's first airing, and Amane and Azrael still have no chapters of their own, but these extra plot points will appeal to those heavily invested in the narrative. New gag reels that provide the usual humorous - and just plain weird and creepy - non-canon adventures of competitors never fail to live up to the comedic value that the series unashamedly prides itself in having.

Screenshot for BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend  on PlayStation 4

Now adding in the fan-fiction-like Remix Heart side-story for Extend, the plot - also known as, "What the Hell is Going On?" - continues to be one of BlazBlue's biggest draws. It’s convoluted and bizarre for the sake of it, but the fact it’s so expansive and keeps the serious side in check with constant laugh-out-loud moments is what makes it so appealing. There really is nothing else like it in any other fighter, anime-based or not. The main concern for newcomers is having the patience to sit through literally hours of text, though, whether it's recapping old events from previous entries or enjoying the current story of the third outing. There is a heck of a lot to take in, but the Library mode - a BlazBlue encyclopaedia of sorts that was originally cut from the vanilla game's Western release and sneakily returns here - considerably helps to clear up a lot of that jargon.

The online mode has had a satisfying update, in the form of a larger lobby size, now jumping from 32 players to 64, as well as the option of customising a personalised sprite-based room to host player matches with furniture, posters, and the like. It's a far better maintained and managed network than Guilty Gear Xrd, which doesn't feature ranked matchmaking at all. The familiar modes from the original version then apply as normal - Arcade, Versus, Score Attack, the stat-based Abyss, the godly AI-featured Unlimited Mars, and high quality tutorials and challenges to learn how best to make use of the roster and the game's systems. Plenty of unlockables round off the package, making BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend one of the biggest and best fighters on the PS4 right now.

Screenshot for BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend  on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The first entry on PlayStation 4, and the largest in the series yet, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend may not warrant purchasing for anyone that picked up the original edition last year, but it is easily the go-to 2D anime fighter on home consoles right now, packed with fan service and enough crazy Japanese over-the-top plot to keep entertainment going for weeks outside of all of the challenges and network play on offer. Although a deep system, the battle mechanics could do with a major mix-up, and that should be coming in the next title, Central Fiction. Until then, Chrono Phantasma Extend slots itself comfortably into the list of quality fighters on current systems and deserves to be checked out.

Developer

Arc System Works

Publisher

PQube

Genre

Fighting

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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

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