Who doesn’t love a good crossover? A well-done meeting of characters from separate media properties is one of my favorite things to see, and nowhere is it more common than in fighting games. The idea of guest characters in a fighting game gained prominence with SoulCalibur 2, and has continued to be a popular feature ever since. That’s not even getting into full franchise crossovers like the venerable Marvel Vs. Capcom and Street Fighter X Tekken. Until now, this isn’t really an area Arc System Works has explored. But that all changes with the surprisingly eclectic BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, which combines the developer’s popular BlazBlue series with the Atlus’s RPG-based fighting game Persona 4 Arena (also developed by Arc), French Bread’s visual novel/fighting game Under Night In-Birth, and surprisingly, Rooster Teeth’s animated series RWBY. Frankly, the only thing I needed to hear to get me interested was the word “Persona,” so let’s dive right in.
The 2D fighting game style should be familiar to fans of any of Arc’s other games, but there are a few twists to the gameplay this time around. The game is definitely more casual than the typical BlazBlue fare, which is rather nice, given that a number of players who will be drawn to this game aren’t hardcore fighting game players. Cross Tag Battle uses the two-on-two tag team mechanic seen often in these sorts of games, especially crossovers. It adds some variety to the match, and lets players use fun combinations, either due to the natures of the characters or how they play. The fighting itself is simplified some as well, with a single button for special attacks and plenty of automatic combos. bos. To be honest, even I find it to be a bit overly simple, and I’m usually all about making fighting games more welcoming. Fortunately, there is more to the combat than this, and there are absolutely benefits to mastering more complex techniques. Still, matches seem to end very quickly, and a fair bit of it does come down to easily-executed flashy special attacks and button mashing, at least when playing on a casual level. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, but I worry that it might
I do wish there was a more complete roster of characters at launch, especially for Persona 4 Arena and RWBY: even including free launch DLC, the former has five and the latter has four. It appears plans for the game fall in line with other recent fighting games: the roster on disc is relatively small, but more are added for DLC. At 20 characters to start with, it isn’t exactly Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but it’s not abnormally small either. As I mentioned, some of the launch DLC is free, presumably due to complaints that the game launched with only two RWBY characters on disc, but more paid DLC is on the way.
With that out of the way, let’s talk visuals. In truth, there isn’t a lot to say here; the graphical assets largely come from previous games, or at least are similar enough that they could. This is a 2D “anime-style” fighting game through and through, and while Arc may have experimented with something a bit different on Dragonball Fighterz, here they’re back to their trademark sprite-based characters and 3D backgrounds. It works well enough, but given the quality of the visuals in the aforementioned Fighterz, I feel like they could have done a bit better. On the plus side, the story mode is actually quite fun. The plot itself is basic, but still mysterious enough to keep you following it. More importantly, the characterization and voice acting are top notch. I don’t know much about most of these characters, but they all seem on point.
I remember when the original BlazBlue was released, and people hailed it as the ultimate technical fighting game. While this spinoff isn’t a pure button masher, it is a much more casual take on the series. For those of us who are intrigued by the characters and the crossover element, this works just fine. The characters look and sound right, and they play about how you would expect. Even moderate fighting game fans will enjoy the challenge of perfecting the more complicated commands hidden in the seemingly simple fighting mechanics. And yes, if you’re like me and can’t help being interested in anything involving Persona 4, you’ll be able to have some fun here. But if you get bored easily, or you’re looking for something as complex as the game’s namesake, you can give this one a pass.
Gameplay - 8/10
Visuals - 7/10
Difficulty - 6/10
+ Fun crossover potential
+ Easy to pick up
+ Compelling characters
+ Vibrant visual effects
– A bit oversimplified
– Graphic design could have been better