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BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Review

BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma (1)

After over two years, the BlazBlue series has finally returned. BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma (or BB:CP for short) is the latest in Arc System Works’ excellent 2-D fighting game franchise. Released just a few short months ago on PS3, the newest Blaz (pronounced “Blaze”) now makes its way to the PS Vita as the system’s second terrific taste of the Guilty Gear developer’s superior fighter. Let’s break down what makes Chrono Phantasma far more than just another Calamity Trigger rehash.

First off, five brand new fighters have been added to the roster. Joining the fight are the sinister-looking Azrael, short-shorts sporting Bullet, cross-dressing dancer Amane, story mode unlockable Kagura, and a new variation of Tsubaki Yayoi named Izayoi. There are also two paid DLC characters, as well; Yuuki Terumi, the true form of series antagonist Hazama, and everyone’s favorite smart-mouthed cat-girl, Kokonoe. It’s a shame these two are $7.99-a-piece downloadable content, because the overall package would have felt far more complete with them included from the get-go. On the gameplay side of things, the biggest game-changer is a new mechanic called Overdrive. When activated, your fighter’s unique abilities gain a boost. The lower your health is, the longer the effect lasts. Using a Distortion Drive during this state increases its damage output sizably. Since Overdrive also stops the clock, it can be a great way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat when time isn’t on your side. Lastly, since it wouldn’t truly be a fighting game without them, plenty of move and balancing changes have been made.

BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma (2)
Almost every aspect of the presentation has received a complete makeover. The menu interface, character select screen, and pre-fight load screens have all been completely redesigned with fresh art assets and music. Furthermore, with the exception of two stages, the entire line-up of default battle locations is new. Old character themes have been redone, too. Sadly, not a single one of these “sequel” songs manages to top their Daisuke Ishiwatari counterparts.

One of the reasons why the BlazBlue series lends itself so well to portable systems is because of its strong single player offerings. Chrono Phantasma doesn’t mess with success. If anything, it refines the formula even more so. Taking center stage is the lengthy visual-novel-meets-fighting-game story mode. This time, the story offers three different paths to follow through to their conclusions. Additionally, new BlazBlue players can catch up on their lore in the new, Vita-exclusive side-stories that recap the events of Calamity Trigger and Continuum Shift. The eagerly(?) anticipated beach-themed story for the Vita version is a short dud relegated to being a gag reel for said recaps. Fortunately, improvements to the Abyss Mode more than make up for it. For Phantasma, there are ten courses (up from Extend‘s three), each with their own difficulty and depth. Unlike previous variations of Abyss Mode, stat upgrades stick around after reaching the target depth, making an already addictive mode even better. Chrono Phantasma isn’t ready to call it quits on the solo modes yet. Genre mainstays, Arcade, Versus, Training, and Challenge modes join BlazBlue favorites, Score Attack, Unlimited Mars (Score Attack fueled by ten cases of Red Bull and created by Satan himself), and the super-deformed educational series, “Teach Me More, Ms. Litchi!”. Those wishing to throw-down with another person can do so via Ranked and Player matches online or through local Ad-Hoc multiplayer.

BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma (4)
From a technical standpoint, Chrono Phantasma on Vita performs admirably. Most importantly, fights are fast, feverish, and nearly spot-on with its PS3 brother. Slight frame-rate drops creep in from time-to-time, but were never severe enough to sour the overall experience. Online play is serviceable. At the absolute worst, I played a fight with about a half-second delay between button press and action. Load times are a few seconds longer than the PS3 version running with the recommended data install. I did encounter a one-off glitch where the game stalled at the loading screen. With any luck, it was just a fluke. Like Continuum Shift Extend on Vita, the voice over audio and background music of the portable Chrono Phantasma take noticeable hits in clarity. All-and-all, nothing truly major holds BB:CP Vita back, performance-wise.

An area I cannot give a pass to is the DLC. As I noted above, two full characters are locked away solely for the purpose of shaking you down for a few more dollars. It doesn’t stop with Kokonoe and Terumi, either. Classic stages, character colors, system voices (the announcer that says “REBEL ONE! ACTION!”), the old Noel Vermillion sprite, and even the original (and far superior) Daisuke Ishiwatari character themes are all behind the paywall. Worse yet, going by the seemingly-uniform 2.4MB download size, it appears that the so-called downloadable add-on content is all stored within the game. The smoking gun of this being that the Kagutsuchi Port stage from previous BlazBlues appears in Noel’s Arcade Mode, but is nowhere to be found in the stage select of Versus Mode without the DLC.

BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma (6)
In spite of the downloadable content woes, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma on PS Vita is a worthy purchase. Its strong gameplay and single player mode variety makes the game a perfect fit with Sony’s portable hardware. As long as you can overlook Arc System Works’ DLC strategy, don’t hesitate to give it a whirl.

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma
Platform:
 PS Vita, previously released on PlayStation 3
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Aksys Games
Release date: June 24th, 2014
Price at release: $39.99 retail or via PSN Download
Language(s): English
After over two years, the BlazBlue series has finally returned. BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma (or BB:CP for short) is the latest in Arc System Works' excellent 2-D fighting game franchise. Released just a few short months ago on PS3, the newest Blaz (pronounced "Blaze") now makes its way to the PS Vita as the system's second terrific taste of the Guilty Gear developer's superior fighter. Let's break down what makes Chrono Phantasma far more than just another Calamity Trigger rehash. First off, five brand new fighters have been added to the roster. Joining the fight are the sinister-looking Azrael, short-shorts sporting…

Review Overview

Gameplay - 85%
Story - 80%
Aesthetics - 80%
Content - 80%
Accessibility - 80%

81%

Very Good

Summary : $100+ worth of pay-to-unlock DLC and a lackluster soundtrack mar an otherwise stellar fighting game port. With a beefy line-up of offline modes, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma is easy to recommend to those who prefer to fight on-the-go.

User Rating: 4.49 ( 4 votes)

About Eric Blue

Often referred to by his nickname "Blue", the upbeat Eric 'BlueSwim' joined Tech-Gaming as its fighting game, pro-wrestling, and Sailor Moon expert in 2011. Although his heart belongs to the classics of yesteryear, this jack-of-all-trades gamer doesn't shy away from playing the modern-day greats as well.

27 comments

  1. My Man Blue coming through with the BlazBlue review!

    Great write up. One of your best, if I may say so.

  2. Can you and Robert please cover every Japanese game that comes out? Other sites don’t know!

  3. “Classic stages, character colors, system voices (the announcer that says “REBEL ONE! ACTION!”), the old Noel Vermillion sprite, and even the original (and far superior) Daisuke Ishiwatari character themes are all behind the paywall.”

    Arc, why must you do that to your fanbase. And maybe I could understand if you charged $10 for everything, but $7.99 a character is robbery.

    • Did ARC set the price or did Aksys?

      • I believe the prices match up with the Japanese version, so I’m assuming Arc tells Aksys what they should cost.

        On the plus side, the DLC is Cross-Buy, so if you received Terumi for pre-ordering the game on PS3, you’ll get him on the Vita.

  4. Any changes to the CPU AI? Is it still clear everyone else, then fighting the final character 50 times?

    • Askes the guy with a MK icon.

      😉

    • When I played through arcade mode on normal with Noel, I didn’t have any problems with the final boss. Haven’t tried it on anything harder. I think the end boss(usually a regular roster character) differs depending on who you choose.

  5. Good review. Great game. I’m even ok with your ads, if the girls actually look like that.

    • Lord Voldemort

      Ever see the pictures McDonalds puts out for Big Macs? Compare that to what you get in the drive-thru.

      Same thing for those ads.

  6. Can you play against people who own the PS3 version?

    • I’m afraid not. Cross-Save isn’t supported, either. Cross-Buy for the DLC is, though, and the trophy list is not shared with the PS3 version, allowing for two platinum trophies (one for Vita, one for PS3).

  7. Just notice that butt int he second pic. Wow.

  8. I call it “BlazzBlue” as do most of my friends. Is it really “Blaze” ???

  9. Viva la Blue Man Crew!

  10. A half second of input lag sounds pretty frustrating to me. I don’t know if I could deal with that.

  11. Blue, is this where you name comes from? Have you explained your “origin”?

    • It’s been a long time since I’ve discussed the origins of the “BlueSwim” name. Sadly, it was not a tribute to BlazBlue (Blaz came out after I picked my name).

      If I recall correctly, “Swim” was a nod to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block, which was responsible for my revitalized interest in anime. As for “Blue”, I’m guessing I picked it because I liked the color.

  12. Great review, Blue. Only thing better would be a giveaway.

  13. Great review. Almost Robert quality.