Since my fighting game experience is rather limited, my opinion on the mechanics of the latest BlazBlue is not likely to mean much. Adding to that is the fact that my only exposure with the BlazBlue franchise has been with the original Xbox 360 release. That being said, I can discuss some of the new things that are coming as well as steps being made to make the title more accessible to newcomers with the franchise’s fifth installment.
BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma marks the end of the story arc of BlazBlue. Whether this means the franchise could return in some capacity with new characters or a clean slate story is unclear, though Aksys indicated that this does at least mean that the current plot will not drag out any further. Perhaps the next game will get a Dynasty Warriors-esque follow up the same way the Guilty Gear franchise did?
Chrono Phantasma will also be bringing six new characters to the table, which means the full roster will be twenty-six in total. This is quite a bit for an Arc System Works title, especially with all of the play balancing that is going to have to go into it. Likewise, some of the existing characters will be granted new moves that will be added to their repertoire, so series veterans will have some additional skills to master.
The game looks as sharp as ever with the colorful 2D visuals making you feel like you’re watching an anime. The Western release will also have English voiceovers for all of the characters, just as its predecessors had. I had an opportunity to sample BlazBlue‘s new mode for fighting game beginners, which allows the player to perform special moves that may have previously been beyond their skill level. I’m not quite sure how everything works under the hood quite yet, but playing as Jin, I was able to decimate an A.I. Ragna by doing things with the character that I had never done before. Players can use those mode in online matchmaking and will have the ability to pick and choose whether or not to fight a bout with someone of a significant skill gap, or to stay within range of their current rank.
If Arc System Works is able to pull off not only balancing out that many characters, but making the game accessible to newcomers in an effective way that lets them hang with more skilled players, it sounds like Aksys might have the ultimate fighting game on their hands. We’ll find out when Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma releases on the PlayStation 3 sometime in early 2014.