I originally played BlazBlue Chronophantasma when it was on PS3 but now that it’s released on PS4, I’ve dipped back in to see if it still holds up as one of my favourite fighting series’.
Yes, yes it does. The PS4 version has so much brand new content that it’s hard not to love. It’s leagues above the original PS3 version and PQube’s handling of its release has all of the care and attention that developer Arc Systems Works ignored with its original release (as well as with their release of Guilty gear Xrd in the UK). It’s already off to a good start but the extra content solidifies the decision that it’s worth re-buying even if you own the original version on PS3 or Vita. Not only is Celica A. Mercury a bundle of fun to play (and she’s since become my main), but there’s new story segments that flesh out the story of Chronophantasma and the spin-off Remix Heart manga which focuses on new character Mai and Noel, Tsubaki and Makoto’s adventures at school – it’s good, mostly light-hearted fun.
The Chronophantasma main story is the same as it was on PS3 and plays like a visual novel – there are very few fights in the story! It follows on from the first two games, which have condensed versions here to play through which is a much appreciated and fantastic feature, with Ragna tracking down Terumi to defeat him once and for all. Terumi, one of the Six Heroes, has kidnapped Noel who Ragna has become well acquainted with, and he’ll stop at nothing to rescue her. It’s a lengthy story so prepare yourself for a lot of reading but it’s worth it, and BlazBlue fans should love how Chronophantasma expands on the series’ lore and how it sets up the next game.
BlazBlue has always been one of the harder fighting games to get into for new players but with the genre steadily growing and BlazBlue appealing to anime fans, people have been drawn to the series to find that it’s a lot of work to put in to make the most of it. Thankfully, although this isn’t applicable online, there’s now a ‘stylish’ mode that allows you to string together flashy combos far easier and it makes the game so much more accessible. I feel like Chronophantasma has reached a nice balance between casual and hardcore that’ll please both camps. Like pretty much all fighting games, most attacks are attributed to the face buttons and flicks of the analog stick or a variety of movements on the D-Pad.
There’s a robust tutorial and challenge mode so you can learn the basics and how to string longer combos together, but I spent most of my time (outside of Story anyway) on Arcade and Abyss. Arcade follows one characters story with some cool CG art to unlock, and Abyss is a survival-like mode where you fight battle after battle, increasing in difficulty, to clear ‘towers’ where losing one battle can send you straight back to the beginning. Multiplayer isn’t ignored with its ranked, player matches and rooms that you can set up. Similar to Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, you can also use a chibi version of your favourite character to walk around and ask to battle people – it’s novelty, but I really enjoy it.
There’s so much more to unlock in Extend over the original version too with about 18 alternate colours for each character that can be purchased in-game using points, as well as guest art, videos, voice clips, music and extra stages to battle on. A lot of that that could be DLC thankfully isn’t and whilst there is DLC available, it’s nice to see that things like stages are included and can be unlocked simply by playing the game.
Unless Arc System Works opt for a visual style that’s more 3D as they have done with Guilty Gear Xrd, then I’m unsure as to how they can make BlazBlue look any better. The sprites are detailed and lively, and they fluidly move no matter what they’re told to perform – they’re super slick and a joy to watch in motion. The 2D art used in the CG isn’t to be outdone and features some breathtaking artwork along with the character portraits used when characters have a conversation. Ultimate attacks are bombastic and usually large in scale, such as Celica’s one seeing her partner Minerva take to the sky and swoop down to knock the enemy out of the battle, leaving Celica to wonder where they’ve gotten to as she was trying to heal them.
BlazBlue still features one of the best English dubs around with the likes of Cristina Vee, Patrick Seitz, Yuri Lowenthal, Laura Bailey and Erin Fitzgerald making appearances alongside other popular names, and with so much spoken dialogue in the story it’s nice to hear several of my favourite voice-actors and actresses do their thing. Whilst the opening theme from Calamity Trigger, Iconoclast, isn’t featured in Chronophantasma (which makes me sad as it’s brilliant), the OST makes for good listening regardless. There’re a handful of vocal tracks but mostly there are a lot of heavier guitar-laden tracks fit for battle. BlazBlue doesn’t aim to displease, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
BlazBlue Chronophantasma Extend is packed with content, an intriguing story, solid and refined gameplay, top-tier visuals and fantastic audio, and it’s enhanced on PS4. Considering that this edition also contains condensed stories of the first two games too, this is the perfect time to jump into the series and if you’re a fan of fighting games and haven’t yet played BlazBlue, then I urge you to buy this immediately. Again, it’s nice to see PQube give this game the release it deserves as Arc System Works didn’t take great care of it with their initial release, and BlazBlue Chronophantasma Extend is certainly worthy of better.