Last year, ARC System Works and Aksys Games brought Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma over to western audiences, which at the time was the first truly new entry in the series since 2010's Continuum Shift. Following tradition for the series, this year brings an updated version of Chrono Phantasma in the form of: Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma Extend. So is the upgrade worth the price of admission for the not-quite hardcore fans of the series? That depends on what you're looking to get out of it.
The most noticeable change comes in the roster, which adds two new characters to the seven introduced in Chrono Phantasma. The first is Celica A. Mercury, who should be familiar to those who played the original Chrono Phantasma, as she appeared in that version's story mode. She's an interesting new addition to the mix, as her and her companion Minerva have the ability to adapt to either close-range or long-range stances depending on the situation. The second character is Lambda-11, who was removed in the original version of Chrono Phantasma as a playable character. She has her own unique move set and play style this time around, so she doesn't feel like a carbon copy of Nu-13 anymore.
It should also be noted that the game's character-specific tutorials have also been updated to include tutorials for both of these new additions to the roster. There's also some minor modifications to the beginner-friendly Stylish mode, which this time around makes certain flash moves easier to execute and turns on some auto-activating skills instead of manually needing to activate them.
Probably one of the most expanded areas in this remixed entry comes in the story mode. The three new characters introduced in Chrono Phantasma: Kagura, Kokonoe, and Bullet, get their own story routes in Extend. There's also a brief story featuring character Mai Natsume that shows some of the inner workings of the military academy in the game. Of course, the original story mode and its arcs from the original game are also available, along with an amusing synopsis of the events of the games prior to Chrono Phantasma. While playing through the segments for review, I felt these story additions would make the purchase worthwhile for the fans who enjoy BlazBlue's narrative and want something more to whet their appetite until the next fully-fledged title in the series is released.
Another area the game has had some modifications done to it revolves around the online-related modes. Somewhat similar to the room mechanic found in the Persona 4 Arena titles, Extend lets the player-hosted room get decked out in different pixel art furniture and other such decorations. It's a neat idea, but it did occasionally get annoying when a room owner made it cumbersome to move around their room when I just wanted to get into a match. Arc System Works also bumped up the player counts in the online lobbies from 32 to 64. And of course, like most of Arc System Works' fighting games, I didn't experience any major lag when I stuck to the average-to-best range opponents. Going lower than that caused some minor bouts of lag, but even the worst-ranged matches didn't feel impossible to play in.
Outside of these modifications and additions, the rest of the game is essentially similar to what we featured in last year's review of Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma. Extend is a revamped version that's aimed solely at the hardcore fans of the series and those who tend to pick up the enhanced version instead of the original at release. If you're a hardcore fan of the series you already picked this up, but for those who have the original and the above improvements and changes don't really excite you, this won't likely be enough to get you on board.
|The new characters introduced in Chrono Phantasma get their own fully-fledged story routes this time around.|
|Lambda-11 players will be excited their favorite character returns with her own move set.|
|Fights are generally lag-free like one would expect from an ARC System Works title.|
|The new room mechanic creates some issues moving your character around depending on how the furniture is setup.|
|If you're not a hardcore fan or a fan of the narrative, there's not much here to entice you.|
|The price tag might turn some away if they picked up the initial version last year.|