Blazblue Chronophantasma Extend Review
It’s rare to find a game that can be both friendly to beginners, yet cater to fighting game experts at the same time. Usually, new players step into the online world of a fighting game to get destroyed by the lobby veterans, and whilst that can be said about Blazblue Chronophantasma Extend, you at least have access to the most in-depth and user friendly tutorial I’ve seen this side of… well, any fighting game really. With time, you’ll be able to take on that veteran, and you’ll likely have to. They’ll probably be the only other one playing.
But let’s take it back a minute, as there are probably some of you who aren’t sure what Blazblue actually is. At it’s core, Blazblue is a 4-button, 2-D fighting game from Arc System Works, a company that seemingly specialises in Japanese manga-style fighting games. Hokuto No Ken (Fist of the North Star) would be another example. Players have access to 4 attack buttons; your usual light, medium and heavy attacks, and a Drive attack button. These are attacks that utilise each character’s special abilities. For instance, series main character Ragna the Bloodedge has the Soul Drain, meaning attacks which use the Drive button will recover health for Ragna if they land, even if your opponent is blocking. Each character has unique Drive abilities of their own, including projectiles, striker assists, ice attacks and so much more.
Of course, if that all sounds confusing to you, and you don’t feel like learning what to do, Blazblue has you covered still. Just switch from the default Technical mode to the Stylish fighting mode, and the game suddenly changes from a difficult to master, precise execution-centric fighting game, to a button mashing slugfest. Seriously, this mode acts as an effective handicap between an experienced player and a relative novice, allowing for competitive match-ups with any combination of characters. Just don’t brag about your stylish mode wins online, n00b.
Not content with being just a fighting game, however, Blazblue suffers from somewhat of an identity crisis, deciding that multiple text adventure Story modes would be welcome single player additions. These include the main Story Mode, continuing from the events of Calamity Trigger and Continuum Shift, following multiple characters in their quest to defeat The Imperator.
There’s also “Teach Me More, Miss Litchi”, which deals with the lore of the series, explaining the setting, characters and factions in a ‘funny’ manner (see: “mind-numbingly dull”), and Remix Heart Gaiden, which plays out like a High School drama. Yeah. I wish I was joking. It follows a bunch of girls and one of them was a dude before magic turned them into a girl. Also, their tastebuds are so sensitive that they hear the voice of whoever cooked that meal. That was 5 minutes in, before my brain liquefied and leaked out my nose. Thankfully though, I got better, and the game did too when it wasn’t a boring text adventure.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure fans of the franchise as a whole, especially those aware of the Remix Heart manga on which the Gaiden mode is based, will get a kick out of the in depth story modes and attention to detail given to the characters and storylines, but for those looking to test their mettle in combat, you really ought to look to the other modes. I hear Story Mode has fights in it, but after an hour scrolling through text to try and catch up on the backstory, my bloodlust had been left unsated.
Luckily, the other, more conventional modes, seem to have fights coming at you at a mile a minute. There’s your usual Arcade Mode, Score Attack and Time Trial modes, along with the really interesting Abyss Mode. Acting like a kind of Survival Mode, you take on waves of enemies and frequent bosses with your goal being to reach the bottom of a dungeon. As you progress, you can level up your character with increased stats and buffs so that if you get K.O’d, your next run should run a little more smoothly. It’s addictive stuff, but a little frustrating when you make a lot of progress only to fall at the final hurdle.
Of course, these modes are for naught if the online component isn’t up to snuff. Games like this live and die on the support of the community, and unfortunately, Blazblue doesn’t have that right now. Sure, you can stay up all night and play with the Americans, but even then you’re limited to about 10-15 people at most. The modes are there, with 64 player online lobbies similar to Soul Calibur V’s Global Colosseu offering the chance to both socialise and get your fight on, but you’ll find said lobbies to be sparse at best, non-existent every other time. Ranked matches are even worse, producing for me only 3 matches against the same person. Honestly, the only thing Arc System need to add is some tumbleweed and the wasteland motif would be complete.
So, take this review as a call to arms, if you will. Yes, Blazblue might take some work to get good at. Lord knows I’m still trying! And yes, this game is unapologetically Japanese, but underneath all that is a great fighting game that all skill levels can enjoy together. Please, this Christmas, consider adding this little gem to your stocking. The online lobbies need you!
If you want to take a look at the gameplay (and me trying to string a couple of sentences together), check out the first five minutes of gameplay down below!
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