If there’s one paramount thing I’ve learned about the fighting video game, it’s that it is more of a culture than a genre. Fighting games bring out a part of ourselves that leans forward with intensity, firm grip on the controls, leaving the rest of ourselves in the backseat to watch the sparks fly. I feel that if you play a fighting game that doesn’t turn you into this fervent, button-mashing creature your friends and family don’t recognize, it’s probably really casual or really boring (which aren’t necessarily a bad thing). BlazBlue: Chronophantasma Extend beckoned this other self in me from the start, so I knew I was in for quite a ride.
Following that statement about fighting games as a culture, everyone I’ve known who plays them will always have a character or set of characters they always play as. BlazBlue was one of the titles I’ve only played a few times, and that was enough to find a character I identified with: Taokaka. I’m not a catgirl at heart (not since high school) but this crazy biological weapon is the choice for me. Plus one for familiarity, I would be like a child who lost their mother in a grocery store if I had to play with characters I didn’t recognize from past titles.
Setup was a little lacking however, playing in windowed mode in 1600×900 px on a 1920×1080 resolution monitor isn’t ideal for me, and that was essentially the max res I could set it to besides 1600×960 which was strange. In any case, I jumped right into arcade mode it’s been a long time since I’ve played a fighting game so practice was necessary. Story mode was a bit too drawn out for me anyways, and I haven’t kept up with the story of the franchise, so flipping through 10-15 minutes of conversation isn’t exactly what I came here for. This was personal preference however, and the presentation was well put together. Watching Taokaka’s antics in the beginning was entertaining enough, but I wanted to skip to the combat. Those who are looking for an engaging story full of anime characters, this won’t disappoint, and is nothing short of an adorable, potentially heart-wrenching tale continuing off the first Chronophantasma for the Arcade, PS3 and PS Vita. In a sentence, Chronophantasma Extend is a great blend of Anime visual novel and fighting game.
Arcade mode tasks the player with 10 bouts, each consisting of the staple “best 2 out of 3” round set or “Rebels” as their called in BlazBlue. I left the difficulty at whatever the default was, and wasted the first 6 bouts without losing a single Rebel. I survived thus far with my frantic button mashing and subconscious recollection of the encyclopedia of cognitive attack combos taught to me by Grandma on a Street Fighter Arcade console. Yes, this ritual of playing fighting games is traditional, and is taken very seriously in my family. By the time I reached that 7th bout, I faced Platinum, who destroyed me 2 bouts straight because I’m never one to block. It was time to slow things down a bit and try a tactical approach. Patiently waiting, blocking, and countering was enough to tip the scales in my favor until my opponents’ health was low enough for a flurry of attacks to finish the job.
BlazBlue has a great power up system where the player accrues heat to unleash the Astral Heat attacks which are insanely powerful and assure victory if the attack connects. Another special power that I never properly learn how to use is the Distortion Drive, which uses up 50% of the heat gauge to execute another special attack. I may have used my DD a couple of times, and that was a purely accidental occurrence in my button mashing. The button combos are not too difficult to execute, so people who play like me trying random combos on the gamepad are rewarded more often than not, which evens the tide of battle between totally different play styles. One that note, Chronophantasma Extend features a Stylish Type parameter that can be enabled, allowing beginners to easily execute flashy combos from button mashing. I didn’t learn about this until after I dropped out of Arcade mode, however that would have been a nice touch and a great self-esteem boost earlier on.
Fast-paced upbeat Anime theme music and a future-fantasy style UI set the stage before bringing players into the distant future environments of BlazBlue. Excellently executed fighting mechanics and smooth gameplay keep the hype alive, well-oiled if Stylish Type is enabled. If you came for the story, you’ve lucked out, as a lot of effort went into the narrative and character interactions. Arcade mode is what you’d expect, exciting and gets the blood flowing. In between bouts, there are even short conversations that you can either skip, or immerse yourself with (I just laughed because Taokaka is hysterical). With a wealth of features I hardly touched on, and plenty of characters to keep you company, BlazBlue: Chronophantasma Extend gets a 9/10, only missing the PC optimization aspect.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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