Released on a variety of platforms, BlazBlue by developer Arc System Works has seen multiple revisions since its inception. As the third installment in the series, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma takes a quantum leap forward by introducing redrawn sprites and seven new characters to its already large roster of fighters (more on this in a moment).
While the core gameplay mechanics have remained the same since Continuum Shift, it’s the inclusion of a new gameplay mechanic called ‘Overdrive’, which replaces the Gold Bursts from Continuum Shift, that sets this release apart from the rest. For example: Distortion Drives such as Bang’s “Fu-Rin-Ka Zan”, Litchi’s “Great Wheel” and Ragna’s “Blood Kain” have been reassigned to be their respective characters’ Overdrives, to name just a few. Overdrives increase in length the less health both fighters have. An Overdrive can typically last about 5 seconds when executed. When a fighter has substantially less health, their Overdrive can last around 15 seconds.
The Overdrive bar fills over time and can be only used when it reaches maximum capacity. Moreover, Overdrive replaces ‘Break Stance’, a neutral stance from the previous game that relied on a set amount of usable Bursts. It’s also worth noting that while Green Bursts have remained in the game, no other Bursts are present in Chrono Phantasma.
Guard Primers have been removed entirely and the Guard Crush feature has been replaced by a new gameplay mechanic called ‘Crush Trigger’. This new feature can be executed by pressing the Triangle and Square buttons simultaneously to perform a ‘Guard Crush’ against blocking opponents. This feature is actually more effective when your opponent isn’t using a Barrier Guard. While Crush Trigger cannot break through your opponent’s Barrier Guard instantly, it can inflict large amounts of damage to it.
As mentioned earlier, Chrono Phantasma includes seven new fighters (two being DLC) to its roster : Bullet, Azrael, Amane, Nishiki, Izayoi and Kagura Musuki. Gamers will also be elated to know that all 19 characters from Continuum Shift have made the transition to Chrono Phantasma, sans Lambda-11; she has been replaced by V-13.
In addition to these fighters, Yuuki Terumi and Kokonoe are available for purchase via the Playstation Network. Despite the recent stigma surrounding DLC characters, the pricing structure for Kagura is fairly reasonable at $2.49USD, while Kokonoe weighs in at a hefty $7.99USD. Some gamers balk at the idea of purchasing additional characters for their fighting games, but at least the selection of DLC characters is much smaller for Chrono Phantasma than in some fighting games.
Story Mode has also been revamped, and it may take some time for hardcore gamers to accept it. Gone are the individual character stories from previous installments; they have been replaced by three main story events that involve Ragna, Jin and Noel. The only drawback to this update is that it gives the player less incentive to play through the game more than once. The allure of any fighting game in ‘Story Mode’ is to defeat your CPU opponents, pummel the boss, and learn more about each character in the process. But despite this change, the new story is still compelling even though it’s a major departure from the formula that gamers are used to.
Chrono Phantasma contains all the niceties of its predecessors, including Arcade Mode, VS Mode, and Training, to mention just a few. The mode, ‘Teach Me More, Miss Litchi!’ helps beginners and veterans alike brush up on their history regarding the series. Displayed as ‘Tips’, this mode uses SD characters as they stand before a chalk board, explaining the backstory to BlazBlue. It’s also full of entertaining scenarios as Miss Litchi and Taokaka banter back and forth. This mode is a fun diversion from the actual game, and it can teach you a thing or two in the process.
As mentioned earlier, the sprites have been redrawn for this installment of BlazBlue. Despite appearing slightly larger in size, their color and definition cannot be disputed (especially when they’re displayed in HD). Moreover, all existing sound tracks have been rearranged and new ones have been added.
With updates aside, Chrono Phantasma is a solid 2D fighter that still delivers all the knuckle-whitening, sword wielding action of its predecessors. Its online component is strong; it delivers a stable netcode where input delays and lag are nonexistent. The online community is also quite active and contains a wealth of experienced players. It’s worth noting that most of the online community has abandoned ‘Ranked Matches’ and has migrated to the ‘Player Match’ portion of the server. This was discovered during the course of this review. The number of active rooms available via Player Match is staggering.
BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma continues to lead the 2D fighting game genre with solid controls, innovative gameplay mechanics and stylish characters. Newcomers and veteran gamers alike will find a wealth of gameplay options to enjoy, and an online community that is just waiting to challenge them. If you purchase one fighting game this summer, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma should be that game.
Platform: Playstation 3 (Also available for PSVita)
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Aksys Games
ESRB: T (Teen)
|Mind-blowing 2D graphics that contain bright, vibrant colors.|
|A rocking' soundtrack that contains new songs that fans will love.|
|Solid gameplay that has benefited from a multitude of changes/updates.|
|Fans of 2D fighting games will enjoy BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma; it's the best release in the series.|