BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Review

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Title: BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma
Developer: Arc System Works, Aksys Games
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 3.2 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail
EU Availability: Currently Unavailable

Fighting games have always been very plentiful on the PlayStation Vita.  From the launch, there have been many fighting game series on the Vita, from Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 to PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.  There are a lot of different series of fighting games on the Vita, and even more if you include backwards-compatible PSP titles.  There are even series that started on the PSP, as far as portable gaming is concerned, and came to the Vita with its own titles as well.

An example of series like this is the series BlazBlue, that Arc System Works develops.  BlazBlue has seen three main games in its series, all of which have seen light on portable systems.  BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger came to the PSP in the form of Calamity Trigger Portable, and the Continuum Shift games came to the PSP in the form of Continuum Shift II and the PS Vita in the form of Continuum Shift EXTEND.  The series doesn’t stop there, and it continues to show the Vita love and support.

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma came only to the PS3 earlier this year.  There had been a conflict upon release, as Aksys Games was refusing to port the game over to the Xbox 360 because of space limitations.  As of just last month, Arc System Works and Aksys Games have brought the game to the PlayStation Vita.  Here is our official review of BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma.

Story

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The story of BlazBlue is not something you can just pick up on at any point of the series.  Unlike other fighting games, BlazBlue has a very large emphasis on story.  In fact, you may spend more time with story scenes than you do actually fighting opponents in the game.  The story of BlazBlue has always been pretty in-depth and Chrono Phantasma takes it much more in-depth than the previous titles of the series has done.

As a summary, BlazBlue takes place in a world that was once threatened by a terrible monster known as “The Black Beast”.  Six heroes came together, combining the powers of magic and science into the “Armagus”, which was strong enough to overcome and defeat the beast, resulting in an element known as Siethr to be spread across the globe, the source of the power of the Armagus or, in its individual form, Ars Magus.  As a result, a government called the NOL was created to govern the world in the use of this power.  At one point of events, a rebel from the NOL known as “Ragna the Bloodedge” assaulted the NOL’s “Librarium” in an attempt to destroy it and the Librarium’s hold on the world.

Chrono Phantasma is the third game in the series, and it starts right where Continuum Shift left off.  The game does provide about an hour’s worth of story scenarios and scenes to explain the events of the first two games, but it doesn’t give you a good, overall idea if you’re new to the series.  If you’re a new BlazBlue player and want to experience the story, it is highly recommended you find some summaries for each character or play the Story Modes of Calamity Trigger and Continuum Shift before tackling Chrono Phantasma.

Gameplay

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BlazBlue, from the beginning, has been a two-dimensional fighting games.  When in the middle of a fight, you will be on a plane that is a mix of 2D and 3D elements with purely 2D character models, duking it out with one another.  The fact that the character models are still 2D is one thing that makes BlazBlue unique, as most 2D fighting games have 3D models in a 2D perspective, rather than 2D Models in a 2D perspective.

Actually fighting is very complex.  Each of the 26 playable characters has their own, unique, fighting style and you will be able to use several different types of attacks by combining gestures with the D-Pad along with each of the four D-Pad buttons for different levels of attacks.  Each of these attacks can be chained into other attacks with the right timing.  Learning all of these combos can be very time-consuming, but there are hours of tutorials built into the game, there to assist you in learning the basics as well as missions meant to teach you combos for each, individual character.

If hardcore fighting games aren’t to your liking, the game also features a style called “Stylish Mode”.  This mode, available for the various game modes, vastly simplifies the game.  Instead of burning your thumb off to do technical combos, you can simply button-mash each type of buttons and the characters will automatically perform the combination attacks for you.  This is similar to the “Touch Mode” that the PS Vita version of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 features, simplifying combos for beginners or casual players.

The game has several game modes you can take part in.  The first of which is Story Mode, which actually has several different branches of Story Modes that entwine together to form the True Ending of the game.  There are sections of the Story that explain the endings of Calamity Trigger and Continuum Shift, and then three sections of the story for Chrono Phantasma.  Many of the story levels will offer you dialogue choices.  Choosing one of these will advance the story and choosing the other will lead you to a humorous non-canon ending to the game.  The Story Mode also has fights in it and is very lengthy.  If you don’t skip scenes, it will take you about 30 hours to complete Story Mode for the game.

The game has various other modes, for Single Player and Multiplayer.  The first section of modes are the Tutorial Modes.  The Tutorial Mode consists of several different tutorials for each element of the game, from moving, attacking, unleashing powerful Heat and Overdrive attacks, and more.  Training Mode is here as well, letting you fight against a motionless CPU character and Challenge Mode, which will offer 30 Missions for each character to showcase and teach you various combination attacks for them.

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The Story Mode for the game contains the Story Mode as well as a “Teach Me More, Miss Litchi” section of story areas that showcase a non-canon “Chibi” version of the characters, telling various backstory parts about the BlazBlue universe, with each episode concerning the character Taokaka along with various other characters from the BlazBlue universe, mostly playable characters.

Battle Modes consist of several modes.  Arcade Mode has you choosing a character and fighting through a set of 10 enemies until you reach the end and receive that character’s Arcade Ending.  Versus Mode is where you can fight a CPU of your choice or another player over an Ad Hoc local connection.  There is also the lengthy Abyss Mode, where you travel through a large labyrinth and increase your stats as you go through as well as getting items and bonuses for winning so many fights as you progress.

The final Battle Modes are Score Attack, Unlimited Mars Mode, and Network Mode.  Score Attack is where you fight waves of enemies with specific conditions and can get high scores, which you can post to leaderboards online.  Unlimited Mars Mode also allows for this leaderboard feature, but is a very hard mode to play through, as it contains AI that are even smarter than the hardest difficulty to defeat.  Network Mode is the main source of online multiplayer, allowing you to fight against players around the world and increase your rank for those battles.

The PlayStation Vita has a few exclusive features as well, mostly consisting of story scenes that summarize the events of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger and BlazBlue: Continuum Shift.  However, there is also another scene that is exclusive to the Vita version of the game, showcasing a “gag reel” set on the beach with many of the characters in swimsuits.

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma has a lot to do.  As we stated before, it should take you about 30 hours to get through Story Mode, assuming you do not skip the scenes and only do the Story Boss Fights.  Tied with hours of tutorials and other story modes and the multiple Battle Modes, this is a very long fighting game.

Controls

Controls for the game are fairly technical, as are the combo attacks you can use as you play through the game.  The bright side of this, for all of you people worried about the fact that the Vita has a touch screen, is that the touch screen will not be used at all when you’re playing this game.  The controls, from start to finish, are completely controlled with the buttons on the system.

The D-Pad Button is used in Menus to select and cycle through options, the X Button is used to confirm an option, and the Circle button cancels an option.  In battle, the D-Pad and Left Analog Stick (which can be disabled in settings) will control your characters, movements, whether it be walking, dashing, or jumping.  The Right Analog Stick is used as well, for taunts and special attacks.

The four face buttons will be used for various attacks.  By default, the Square Button is used for Weak attacks, Triangle for Medium Attacks, Circle for Strong Attacks, and X for Special Attacks.  L and R are also used for various functions, though it is worth noting that, aside from the D-Pad, the control scheme is completely customizable.  You can set any command to any button on the system, if you don’t like the feel of the default control scheme.

The controls for this game are technical and hard to learn, especially for combos.  BlazBlue is definitely a hardcore fighting game, and that is shown both in the combos you can dish out as well as the control scheme.  It’s simple to remember where everything is, but can be very hard to remember combo patterns.

Presentation

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The visual presentation of Chrono Phantasma is very pretty.  When you’re in battle, the character models and effects are very crisp and detailed.  When compared to the likes of the PS3 version, there’s not much of a difference between the two.  When I showed screenshots of each version side-by-side, it was hard to tell the difference between the two.  Some of the PS3 screenshots I found actually looked less crisp than those of the PS Vita version zoomed to the same size.

How the game plays is something worth noting, though.  Some of the game’s Load Times can be pretty lengthy.  When you load the Main Menu, it will take a good 10-12 seconds for it to load.  Loading fights doesn’t take nearly as long, though it still takes a good 5-8 seconds to load those parts.  The Battle Load Times are nothing to worry about, but the Main Menu Load Times can get quite annoying.

Another thing to note is playing Online.  There are many games out there that suffer some serious slowdown and lag when they go online over a Wi-Fi connection.  I did several Wi-Fi battles with the game and how they played is interesting.  There was lag when the opening cinematic played and they showed the backgrounds of the stages you play on.  When the battle starts, though, the lag is gone and the game plays very smooth and flows well.

Overall

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma is one of the longest fighting games on the PS Vita.  While the story is very confusing if you haven’t played the previous games and the fighting system is pretty hardcore, the game is packed with dozens of hours of content.  With Stylish Mode thrown into Story Mode for casual players and a smorgasbord of content, both original and exclusive to this version of the game, this is one of the top fighters on the Vita and should not be missed.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma a 9/10.

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