BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma EXTEND Review

BlazBlue CPX screen 1
BlazBlue CPX screen 1. Aksys Games

After skipping X360 for whatever reason with BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma, Aksys Games and Arc System Works are back with an updated version of the game for Xbox One.  BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma EXTEND packs a ton of characters and a somewhat ridiculous amount of modes and overall content along with sharp visuals and the fantastically deep fighting gameplay the series has been known for.  We have all of the details on BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma EXTEND right here.

Game Details

  • Publisher:  Aksys
  • Developer: Arc System Works
  • ESRB Rating: “T" for Teen
  • Genre: Fighting
  • Pros:  Great visuals; fantastic cast of varied characters; deep fighting system; tons of content; accessibility options
  • Cons:  Anime aesthetic may turn some people away; crazy convoluted story

Features

BlazBlue is an anime-inspired (and recently had an actual anime) 2D fighting series with a cast that includes a vampire, androids, cat girl, squirrel girl, goth lolis, amorphous blobs, a kid with three split personalities, and a bunch of other weird characters.  You won't find a cast that is more strange and diverse, but that is also what makes the game appealing.  It is in no way set in any sort of recognizable reality, so things just go nuts.  The anime aesthetic may turn some people away, however, and there is a fair bit of fanservice, but for me these things are all positives.  If you don't like anime and fanservice and don't approve of T for "Teen" rated lewd jokes (there's lots here ...), you may not like it much.

 

Seeing as how BlazBlue is now several entries deep at this point, the story here is pretty darn convoluted.  There are a lot of characters to keep track of and a lot going on.  To help you out, Chrono Phantasma EXTEND has multiple visual novel-style story modes to play through.  Similar to Arc System Works' Persona 4 Arena, the main story here is told as VN-style text with fights in-between.

  There are three separate stories to play through in the main story mode, each focusing on a different character.  You can also play through another story mode called "Teach Me, Miss Litchi!" that explains the previous storylines of the series.  And there's yet another story mode called "Remix Heart Gaiden" that tells yet another story about a gender swapped student at a military academy.  There is hours upon hours worth of story modes to play through here, if you're into that. 

In addition to the story modes, there are more traditional fighting game modes available as well, of course.  Training, tutorial, and challenges teach you how to play.  And you'll definitely need them as BlazBlue offers some of the most complex and deep fighting mechanics around.  Arcade mode lets you play through a story with each character.  There are also survival and score attack modes, and more.  Toss in local and online multiplayer, and there's a ton to do here.  Online play is interesting as you can set up lobbies (and decorate them with all sorts of stuff) for up to 64-players to hang out in while they wait to fight.  The netcode is solid, but can vary depending on the connections of the players involved.

Gameplay

I mentioned above that BlazBlue has some of the deepest fighting mechanics of any series around, and I'm not kidding.  There are systems on top of systems on top of systems here, and playing well requires you to learn all of them.  It isn't a simple Street Fighter-style QCF+punch affair to get stuff done.  Your characters move differently and jump differently and just plain feel different from any other fighter on the market.  All of the characters are all also pretty distinct from one another in how they fight and feel, which ratchets the learning curve up yet another notch.  Add in counters and guard breaks along with the crazy special attacks and drive moves and, heck, even the normals are over the top, and you have a lot to learn.

 

You can switch to a "Stylish" gameplay mode that streamlines the controls and lets you pull off combos and special moves just by mashing buttons, but I'm not really a fan of modes like this.  They're fine for true fighting game beginners or if you just want to pull off some flashy moves with your friends for an evening, but you don't actually learn anything and get better by using them.  Options to make games, particularly fighters, more accessible for new players are always welcome, but don't lean on them too much.

BlazBlue's depth is clearly its strongest feature, but it can also turn people away.  There is a lot to learn here.  And even when you learn it all, BlazBlue is one of those games where you can pull off 100+ hit combos that only do something like 20% damage, which can also be a little frustrating as it makes the fights drag on longer than they should.  Again, though, this is part of the appeal here.  It feels different from any other 2D fighter you've ever played, so as long as you go into it without any preconceived notions of how it "should" be, you'll have a great time.  The combos and special moves are huge and crazy and flashy and the game moves at an incredibly fast pace and it can be a lot of fun to watch and play once you wrap your head around it.  That is the key, though.  You have to put in the effort to really "get" it all, and if you don't want to put in the time and effort to do that, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma EXTEND is harder to recommend.

Graphics & Sound

Visually, Chrono Phantasma EXTEND is a gorgeous looking 2D fighter.  The characters are 2D sprites while the backgrounds are 3D and they blend together seamlessly.  Each character is intricately detailed and extremely well animated so the game is very, very smooth in motion.  The game is also nice and brightly colored, which makes it pleasant to look at compared to some of the other fighters on XONE like Killer Instinct or Mortal Kombat X  (the MKX Fight Pad from PDP works great here, by the way). 

The sound is also very well done with a particularly good soundtrack.  Character voices are available in both the Japanese or English with lots of recognizable anime voice actors (for both languages) lending their talents.   

Bottom Line

All in all, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma EXTEND is a very solid 2D fighter that hardcore fans of the genre will love, but it won't be for everyone.  The anime style can turn some folks away that might otherwise enjoy the deep gameplay, while the complex gameplay can turn more novice fighting game fans that have enjoyed Street Fighter IV or KI away because of the much steeper learning curve.  These aren't necessarily bad things, though, as BlazBlue has sort of carved out a niche within a niche, but it serves that niche extremely well.  If you love deep and complex fighting engines and can embrace the anime look and storylines, you'll love BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma EXTEND. 

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.