By Joseph Dante Cantori
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is another fighter by the beloved Anime fighter powerhouse ArcSystemWorks. Cross Tag Battle merges the rosters of BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena, UnderNight In-Birth, and RWBY (with a fifth franchise to be officially revealed) in a partner structured 2D fighter, with plenty of characters, and even more possible duo combinations.
New? No Problem
Cross Tag is perhaps the best fighter on the market right now for newcomers, having a structure that takes much of the traits of 2D fighters but reducing the mechanics to make it less of a burden to play, and making it much easier to smoothly move, and making combo inputs as simple as they can be without making them fully automatically performed.
Keeping in touch with the rest of ASW’s fighters, Cross Tag has a number of modes to let players learn the game. It has the tutorial to teach the mechanics, missions to refine their use, and challenges to teach some of the combos the team has designed.
What Am I Getting?
Typical with most fighters, Cross Tag’s bread and butter is versus matches against other players, with the game allowing it to be done via rank determined searches, public and private lobbies, as well as local versus with a buddy or bot. It brings more than just basic versus modes, with a four-part story mode, item shop to collect for, a survival mode, and the previously mentioned practice and tutorial modes.
The story, while not grand in terms of narrative, reflects the characters it brings in and is broken into four parts as the characters from the four summoned franchises are brought into a game of deception, in which they are all misguided in their own ways. The structure of each story is analogous to one another. You take control of the lead character of the franchise and have your partner changed as the story proceeds. They each have enough to provide a good time and a distraction, but it’s a lot more visual novel than game.
As you play the game, you will earn in game currency that enables you to purchase things from the shop, including color alternates and various aesthetic items, from profile portraits to lobby avatars, which you can utilize to customize your account banner and self in lobbies.
Survival, the closest this game has to an arcade mode, allows you to go on an endurance run through numerous randomized pairs with a duo of your choosing. Health that you leave off of in one match is carried to the next with only a slight gift in between matches. Difficulty accelerates so tread carefully, and switch characters strategically.
Cross Tag comprises many mechanics to make it stand as its own experience. At its core, the game is a partner-based fighter, having one character take the forefront and another character sit stowed away to offer assisting attacks.
Staple mechanics such as super-attacks, recovery optimizing ukemis (hold a button and you recover as soon as possible), charged attacks, as well as reversals (attacks that deals damage while making the player invulnerable).
Unique to cross-tag is reject-guard and crash attacks. Reject guard is a mechanic that allows players to push away their opponent’s character(s) from a blocking state. Crashes, when landed stun the opponent and allows the player to deal a bit of damage. Damage depends on whether your partner is involved and your level of success in timing the final strike.
Regarding team-based mechanics, we’ll start with character switching. The game allows the player to switch character in four ways, from neutral (not attacking), from an assist, from an extended super (meaning that you use your partner attack after a super), or from a cross-burst (a mechanic that enables you to use assist levels to break from a combo). Another unique mechanic to the game is the cross combo, which enables you to keep your partner on screen and attack simultaneously for as long as your assist meter isn’t empty.
When the odds are turned against you, Cross Tag provides many mechanics to allow for a comeback. At the forefront is resonance blaze, which puts the player in a temporary state of overdrive, with attack damage and attack meter fill increased in relation to your assist level (built by using your partner), as well as new combo availability. While not the most effective in game, there are also astral finishes which instantly ends the game when utilized. To perform an astral-finish you must be in a level four assist wise, against one opponent, with no teammate and have nine levels o
In the game there are three kinds of fundamental meters, attack, health, and assist. Attack meter is built over time from doing almost anything and is required for supers and charged attacks. Health is what you think it is, and regenerates during resonance blaze and for characters when stowed away. Assist meter is built by itself over time and is used for partner related actions. Assists can be used without using meter if from neutral.
The Ugly Aura
Cross Tag Battle is in poor shape player-base wise, due to the niche market it was designed for. Designed to be a fighter far simpler than the three it incorporates, the communities of all three franchises, especially BlazBlue’s, are understandably underwhelmed with its lack of depth, exclusion of many desired characters, and the elimination of much of the uniqueness of the franchises it incorporates. By turning off much of the primary fan-bases (groups that are already small) that would have bought the game if it were just a bit deeper in hopes to sell to a new audience, Cross Tag’s player-base is miniscule.
Cross Tag is mostly put in heat by not just the fighting game community but also by the general gaming community (those that know of it at least) for its DLC practice, having a $20 pack at launch (or pay $4.99 for each pack) that granted players access to 18 of the full 40 character roster, releasing each pack when they were done. While ASW says they plan to provide additional characters to players that bought the pack, this business model was a far-cry from the studio’s more consumer friendly DLC practices in the past.
BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle is the best intro-level fighter I can think of, and my recommendation for anyone who would like to give the genre a try through an easily comprehensible but traditionally designed game. The base game still holds out for $49.99 new, and the pass for all of the characters is $19.99, so while it is difficult to sell for a hit or miss experience there are plenty of sales it will be hit with to entice the offer. So come on down, and let’s play some web fighters.