Azur Lane: Crosswave (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Nayu 24.03.2021

Review for Azur Lane: Crosswave on Nintendo Switch

Originally a mobile game entitled Azur Lane, Azur Lane: Crosswave has transformed into a high-quality 3D action shooter on Nintendo Switch developed by Felistella, Idea Factory, and Compile Heart. Starting at the commencement of a tournament for the four military nations named Eagle Union, Royal Navy, Iron Blood, and Sakura Empire, the narrative follows two relatively new recruits from the peaceful Sakura Empire. Shimakaze and Suruga take part in the public showcase that involves winning battles and collecting strange cubes that are more than what they seem. The anthropomorphic girls soon find themselves embroiled in a war with the mysterious Sirens whose intentions are far from friendly.

A friendly tournament between nations always has aspects hidden from the public. There is a lot of power play and many deals made behind the scenes; secret meetings, coded messages, and friendships are formed away from prying eyes. Beneath it all is the issue of the Sirens, beings who use advanced technology that the nations have never seen before. Without spoiling the main plot, the Sirens and cubes are related; Shimakaze and Sugura meet a Siren early on and there is a reason why the cubes are a central part of the tournament. There are several skirmishes with the Sirens, leading to a dramatic final battle where lives are very much at risk, unlike the comparatively gentle tournament where competitors fire blanks and worn-out competitors may rest.

Screenshot for Azur Lane: Crosswave on Nintendo Switch

Even for returning fans, playing through the story mode is advisable in order to gain points to unlock characters and learn about the characters themselves. The girl-ships are not merely beautiful; some of their outfits and rigging (the ship part of their body) are finely detailed and give a suggestion of what their personality is like. Whizzing around the overworld map in a chibi style is rather fun, with hair swishing gently and the water rippling beneath the characters' feet. Main quests and side quests are colour-coded so it is easy to skip straight to the main action if desired; skipping the extra quests isn't advised, though, since they reveal more about the cast and are often rather funny.

Throughout the six chapters that provide at least seven hours of gameplay (more with side quests and replaying battles to level up) there are exposition scenes and exhilarating battles. Additional stories appear when certain characters are unlocked and the Expert Mode will push experienced players to their limits. There's also the opportunity to relive key moments from the story, either by watching them on screen or replaying entire chapters, and the option of strengthening ships to maximise their stats for battle. In the photo mode, players can take snaps with their ideal team against various backgrounds.

Screenshot for Azur Lane: Crosswave on Nintendo Switch

Using cel-shaded graphics against a realistic sea sounds like it may not merge well, but the effect when each side rides into battle is captivating. Seeing the normally 2D-rendered girls in full 3D feels like a world put to rights, with every fold of their clothes sitting perfectly, their passion for fighting clear in their expressions. Those new to the genre can focus on simply shooting any enemy ship or aeroplane in sight, but taking down the big ships which provide aerial support for the enemy can help reduce enemy fire, until it's only the opposing ships remaining which can take a bit of time to defeat depending on character levels. Each battle is graded with extra points and bonuses given for high grades which are achievable by meeting time goals and other conditions.

A roster of over fifty characters might seem daunting but Azur Lane: Crosswave uses a lot of visual novel-style scenes to narrate the story, making it easy to find characters to love and assign to a team. At the start, only Shimakaze, Suruga and Taihou are available. Winning battles results in points that are needed to unlock characters in both the primary team (the team controlled onscreen) and the secondary team, which passively aids with the members' skills throughout battle. It is entirely up to the player to decide if they save up for their favourite girls, who can be rather expensive, as is the case with the Sakura Empire leader Nagato. Alternatively, teams can be built from the lesser-priced (but not necessarily weaker in firepower) characters, such as the adorable purple-haired Unicorn who has an actual unicorn companion that she holds in her arms and which jumps about on the victory screen.

Screenshot for Azur Lane: Crosswave on Nintendo Switch

Almost any team combination is possible, at least when the main story permits it. Sometimes certain nation ships can not be used because they are going to be fought against. Those in the primary team are not able to be used in a secondary team and vice versa. This may be disappointing for some that favourites from the second team can't be used in their 3D glory, but they do feature in the main story, and when their skills are activated in battle their heads pop up onscreen to cheer on the primary team. Selecting them in the pre-battle menu screen is straightforward, like all the other menus which helpfully include tutorial notes about certain features. Weapons, important ship accessories, and items are gained at the end of battle and can also be bought in the shop.

The personalities of the girls are wide in range. From the charismatic leaders whose authority isn't questioned to bright and chirpy characters like Shimakaze, not to mention the initially reserved ones with hidden fighting spirit like Sugura, there is plenty to choose from. As the story mode unfolds, it is a pleasure to see the dynamic change as the main protagonists adjust to each other's natures, and by the end they work well as a cohesive team. Shimakaze and Sugura do have disagreements and sometimes hold back on saying important things, but their growth under the guidance of the leaders, as well as their sneaky battle tactics which include actions that are almost-but-not-quite cheating, make their development enjoyable to watch.

Screenshot for Azur Lane: Crosswave on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

At first glance, Azur Lane: Crosswave may look like a fan service-filled experience, and while there is a bit of truth to that in both character design and some conversations in the story, it is also a title filled with intrigue, rivalry, and cooperation. The depth of the story and character growth coupled with the easy to pick up, hard-to-master gameplay make it perfect for the portability of the Nintendo Switch. Post-game content is just as important as the main story, whereafter dozens of hours can be put into creating a dream team whose power is unstoppable against the Sirens.

Developer

Compile Heart

Publisher

Idea Factory

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

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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