BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma is the latest game by Japanese developer Arc System Works. It’s the third title in the 2D fighting series BlazBlue, and takes place after the events of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. The release was originally conceived as an arcade game, which deployed in late 2012. It then received a PlayStation 3 port in Japan in October of last year, before punching its way to North American shores.
The game has a fair few differences to its predecessor. First and foremost, the title introduces five new characters into the fray – as well as an additional two available for digital purchase – bringing the total roster up to 24 (not counting the DLC fighters). Another major change is that more original music has been added to the release, in addition to rearrangements of all of the themes previously present. Moreover, the characters have been redrawn and further refined, making for some stunning visuals.
From a gameplay perspective, a new mechanic – referred to as the ‘Overdrive’ – has been included, which takes the place of the Gold Burst system present in Continuum Shift. Activating your character’s Overdrive increases damage output, as well as stopping the round timer while it’s being used. It also lasts longer when your health is low, making it quite a tactical tool. Another gameplay tweak is the total removal of the Guard Primer system, while the Guard Crush system has been folded into the Crush Trigger system, allowing you to escape from incessant attacks.
The campaign is impressively fleshed out, offering a rather extensive storyline that lasts far longer than the average fighting game. This is accompanied by the usual modes, such as challenge arenas, trials, and the obligatory arcade option, which finds you facing off against a ladder of opponents. Newcomers will also appreciate the addition of a history lesson feature which gives you a literal class – with a chalkboard and everything – on the history of the series and its lore.
This works in tandem with the game’s rather extensive tutorial mode, which offers beginner, intermediate, and difficult courses on the title’s intricacies. If you just want to enjoy the flashy action, a separate, shorter gameplay seminar is available which teaches you the art of the title’s ‘button bashing’ mode, in which the release creates combos for you as you hit various buttons. You’re obviously not going to get the full experience this way, but its inclusion is appreciated nonetheless.
Then there are the smaller things that help to improve the overall experience, like the marvellous introduction sequence, intriguing motion-based loading screens, and truly fantastic score that meanders between intense, guitar-powered tracks, as well as more contemplative piano and organ pieces.
While this isn’t technically a new game, it offers a wealth of content not often seen in titles that can be purchased for $39.99, and it’s certainly the most improved iteration of all of the recent BlazBlue releases. Between that and the fact that it’s so inviting to both newcomers and series veterans alike, this is one fighter that you should not overlook.