BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Review

By Shawn Collier on May 1, 2014

Ever since the original BlazBlue's release back in 2008, the series has been known for its unique characters and complex, but well thought out game mechanics. After two tweaked versions, developer Arc System Works has crafted as new entry in the series: BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma. While this entry is mainly one for the fans, there are enough tweaks implemented for fighting game newcomers or those versed in the genre, but not in this franchise.

Chrono Phantasma is technically the third game in the series lore and is a sequel to the second game Continuum Shift. The controls seem deceptively simple as there's only three attack buttons and a special button, but things get a little more complex as each character's special is uniquely different. Some are attack-based such as Ranga's, while others summon moving projectiles or move the opponent across the stage.

This ties into how the creators aimed to have players master each of the characters instead of feeling like they were copycats. This is clear, as you can't simply pick up and play with any specific character without putting in some time to learn the ropes. Once you do so, however, there's a certain feeling of accomplishment when you've successfully pulled it off. For beginners, though, there is a "Stylish" mode which lets them string together combos by mashing buttons and auto-block attacks under certain circumstances, but it won't do much against an opponent who knows what they're doing.

In Chrono Phantasma the developers have done a lot to get rid of the "turtle" mechanic common in other fighting games where the opponent would play keep-away for most of the match in an attempt to time out the clock. "Gold bursts" from the previous game are replaced with a new "Overdrive" ability which makes your character stronger based off of their remaining life, with the effects being different based on the character you're controlling. The system really does a lot to keep up the offensive and makes for something different to watch than most other fighters out there.

You just won't find anything else that radically changes the formula. That's fair enough, but it does make the overall package lose its sheen compared to previous instalments. BlazBlue was a breath of fresh air when it arrived, but not much has been to expand upon this from a gameplay perspective.

Chrono Phantasma's roster increases by seven this time around, with two of them being fan-favorite DLC characters, although Lambda-11 is the only exception here from the previous game's roster (including DLC). For the most part Arc System Works did a good job balancing out everyone with the exception of DLC character Kokonoe who is a tad overpowered currently, although the developer does have a balance patch planned for May to fix this issue.

One major change in Chrono Phantasma lies in its story mode. The previous entries included character-specific story branches which melded together into an overarching narrative. This entry does away with that and replaces it with a main canonical story which has three branches that eventually converge on each other, with the character-specific storylines being included in Arcade mode.

This change isn't that much of an issue, but the resulting boss fight becomes a tad bit annoying as you need to repeat it three different times and the boss itself is tedious to fight. For fans this becomes required as the final non-DLC character is locked behind this mode and requires it to be completed fully before they're unlocked.

Thankfully the narrative is well-done, especially for those who have stuck with it all these years so that does take some of the sting out of the prior issue. The fan-favorite Teach Me, Miss Litchi! Story segment is also included in Chrono Phantasma and it's still as amusing as ever.

Outside of the story mode, Chrono Phantasma includes a through Tutorial mode which is especially helpful for newcomers, offline modes Abyss and Unlimited Mars and online matches. Unlimited Mars pits you against ten high-level "unlimited" style characters, while Abyss has you pick a character and fight increasingly difficult opponents to reach the bottom of a pit with the ability to customize your character with different stat aspects gained from beating opponents. As far as the netcode goes it's still up to the same high-level standard as previous titles, even when playing against opponents across the world.

Final Thoughts

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma is a game made for the fans, but there's still enough here for newcomers and newbies alike, even if they'll be confused by the narrative and the game's out-there characters. It isn't a radical shift of the formula by any means, but what is (and was) there is still a solid fighting game that offers something different.

In-depth tutorial mode for newcomers.
Fans of the previous game will enjoy the subtle changes.
Netcode is still solid.
Newcomers will be confused by the narrative without a refresher.
Despite the gameplay changes, little has been done to push the franchise on.
There’s some issues with the story mode changes.
blog comments powered by Disqus