Title: BlazBlue: ChronoPhantasma

Platform: PS3, PSVita

Reviewed on: PS3

Genre: Fighter

Players: Single player, Versus


Written by Whistler 3rd October 2014


















Now I’ll freely admit that especially since I tend to avoid fighters (cause I seriously suck at trying to remember combos) BlazBlue only showed up on my radar back when Calamity Trigger was just released and got shown off at my local game store. Sadly I wasn’t really ever able to follow it up since I didn’t own a PS3 nor a Xbox 360 and Calamity Trigger didn’t release on PC till Continuum Shift II had already been out on consoles but with this in mind I can still see how much Chrono Phantasma improves over its predecessors.


Chrono Phantasma is the third chapter in the major story arc and follows after the events of Continuum Shift, while normally if you’ve read my previous reviews (all two of you) this is usually where I in my horrible template style of writing would lay down the basic premise however in CP’s case I honestly don’t fully know for sure myself. Sadly since the story does span the entirety of BlazBlue’s line up there’s a lot of catching up to do for those who jump into the series with this iteration (and who care about the story); the basic plot is that Ragna the Bloodedge, a man with possibly the largest bounty on his head, arrives in the city of Kagutsuchi. Ragna’s aim is to destroy the system controlling the world and of course a large roster of fighters converge upon the city with each confronting him (and each other in the process). Honestly I wish I could give a better idea of what’s going on especially since Chrono Phantasma sports a very large story mode and impressively deep lore, but it’s only found in said mentioned story mode that consists of a menagerie of 90% visual novel with 10% (if that) of actual combat which honestly I couldn’t force myself enough to sit through it even if it is a tale of time travel, magic, mind control and ninjas, (sadly I did miss out on an unlockable character cause of this).

Though BlazBlue does offer a rather comedic abridged version of the tale via the Teach Me, Miss Litchi mode that summarizes the lore.























But hey we all know story isn’t exactly what we look for (or at least expect to find) in a fighter outside of the usual starting sequence and individual character’s end scene; no what we all look for immediately is the meat of any fighter, the graphics, the gameplay, revisions, and mechanics.

All the modes we’ve come to expect are featured in Chrono Phantasma, we’ve got your typical Arcade mode, Versus mode, Score Attack, Survival along with Tutorial and Challenge modes. However while these two modes aren’t all that ground breaking; there are also the Unlimited Mars, a survival-esque mode where you fight a series of challengers with ever increasing difficulty and Abyss, a lite-RPG mode that has you taking on battle ladders, gaining stats and purchasing unlockable skins, art and ability boosters. Oh there’s also an online mode but yeah, that whole sucking at fighting games kind of stopped me from embarrassing myself online.


Thankfully while most fighters understandably have a hard time adding new fighters without creating clones and/or destroying the balance, Arc System Works have managed to avoid this while adding a bunch of dynamic characters to add to the already unique line up of fighters.

The roster has been bolstered with a further seven fighters consisting of Amane, Nishiki, Bullet, Azrael, Izayoi, Kagura Mutsuki, Yuuki Terumi, and Kokonoe boosting the grand total to 24 playable characters (though it should be mentioned that Yuuki Terumi and Kokonoe are DLC exclusive characters).

As to be expected all existing characters have received balance revisions and still play very uniquely from one another; while this is nothing new in the BlazBlue series I feel it should be mentioned that BB:CP has probably one of the most diverse range of fighters to pick from given its roster is dwarfed by the popular heavy hitters out there like Tekken, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat (though the MK’s roster has shrunk since its Nether Realm Studios reboot).


Each fighter has their own distinct personal style; obviously each fighter fits into a global archetype like rushdown, zoner, all-rounder, trapper, grappler and so forth (having friends who are hardcore video game fighting enthusiasts does have its merits) but with BlazBlue I feel like it’s not so obvious and instead I’m playing with 24 personalities each further distinguished from one another thanks to their drives, rather than a template where I would just apply my knowledge (what little there is) of previous fighters. Honestly mastering a single fighter feels like a challenge in itself, though casuals and newcomers should not be discouraged as BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma can be best summed up as a concoction of Street Fighter and Marvel X Capcom where it’s easy to pick up but difficult to master.























I vaguely remember back when Calamity Trigger reached home consoles that Arc System Works touted BlazBlue’s visuals for having entirely hand drawn HD sprites and I can say that even now the visuals and presentation of Chrono Phantasma is a major step up from previous iterations, with redrawn character sprites given a sprucing up as well as sporting new animations and improved backgrounds making battles all that more spectacular to behold. All the little details have been improved from a visually appealing user interface, an array of solid English voice actors and Japanese dub options should you prefer latter, along with possibly one of the most kick ass re-composed soundtracks any beat ‘em up game if not video game in general has had ever that get you in the mood for all sorts of pain inflicting occasions. Though I would like to mention I was somewhat irritated with the announcer voice that shouts counter ever five freaking seconds while myself and friends battled it out which pretty much drowned out the awesome music, the fighter’s and our thoughts.


But I have digressed for far too long; veterans will probably be happy that there’s hasn’t been a massive overhaul of any sort and not all that much has changed from a mechanical perspective from the previous version Continuum Shift Extend, though there are a few mechanic changes that do change up some of  the gameplay. Guard Primers have been removed and Guard Crush has changed to a new mechanic by the name of Crush Trigger where instead of chipping away at your opponent’s stock of Guard Primers to break their defence you now, at the cost of 25% of your Heat (BlazBlue’s special meter) to perform a guard crush providing they’re not using a barrier block.

Bursts and the new Overdrives (which I’ll touch on in a sec) now utilize a special gauge that slowly fills up as opposed to stock count like previous titles of which it should be mentioned that replacing Continuum Shift’s Gold Bursts, Chrono Phantasma introduces the Overdrive system; where Green Bursts are still present which are used to break your opponent’s combos Overdrive allows you to use a burst when you’re not under attack to trigger the fighter’s Overdrive.

Overdrives temporary give your fighter a boost in stats and stop the timer for five seconds as well as gaining access to some new moves; when used with a lower percentage of health it can go up to fifteen seconds for some nice comebacks and last stand moments.


When it comes to the actual combat all I can say is that it’s fantastic, actually no I can say more.

Combat is fluid and while using the tutorial is recommended it’s relatively easy to see how combos flow and what works with each fighting style. Each fighter also has their own Drive which defines their particular play style ranging from stance changes, parrying, power gauges and so forth.

As already mentioned mastering one character is a very different experience from learning another but that makes finding the fighter that fits your preference along with mastering that fighter all the more rewarding. It’s not to say you can’t just pick it up and have fun like the more technical fighters out there where your first 30 minutes will likely be getting the crap beaten out of you or staring at combo lists (I’m looking at you Tekken), as you can form combos without too much hassle and the BB:CP also has a Stylish mode for the more casual fighters which helps beginners string together combos by simply mashing buttons though this mode does not give them any distinct advantage over skilled players using the default Technical system which (as much as a dirty casual as I am) I personally preferred.























Simply put BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma is an excellent and arguably the best entry in the series that is both a welcome improvement for veterans to sink their teeth into with the new and/or reworked mechanics as well as inviting for the newcomers into the series so long as they don’t mind playing catch up with the dauntingly massive story. While at first glance the character roster is smaller compared to others it really is a matter of quality over quantity and it’ll be a while before you run out of things to do whether you plan to play competitively or not with unlockable characters, an expansive story, multiple modes and fighters with very distinct enjoyable play styles.

Chrono Phantasma has been revitalized with kickass visuals, tight controls, snazzy aesthetics and enjoyable gameplay that is set to overdrive making it possibly one of the finest fighting games available that isn’t also daunting; TLDR BlazeBlue: Chrono Phantasma kicks ass (now if only I was good at it).



Pros:

Great for all skill levels,

Dynamic fighters,

Excellent visuals,

Superb soundtrack,

Plenty to keep you hooked.


Cons:

Rather lacklustre visual novel story mode,

Can take a bit to master a single fighter,

Pay for DLC locked characters,

Announcer voice doesn’t shut up.


Final verdict,

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma rocks a flashing 8.5/10 with style.


Written by,

Whistler


    
















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