The BlazBlue series can get very complicated with its story despite having incredible visuals and great gameplay. Each new entry brings new fighters, over-the-top visuals, and convoluted plot that most anime fighting fans love to eat up. BlazBlue: Central Fiction Special Edition for the Nintendo Switch brings the craziness to the portable console, while also including all of the downloadable content from previous releases of the game. And while the story is still all over the place and hard to follow, the fighting and visuals are still fantastic on the Nintendo Switch.
There is a lot of story to take in with BlazBlue: Central Fiction, most of which is very confusing, as the plot from previous games continues with new characters coming into the mix. Newcomers Es, Susanoo, Mai Natsume, and Jubei are playable this time and have their own sub-stories tangential to the rest of the roster. There are a library and glossary in the game’s menu that gives full detail on much of the Blazblue universe, which most will find helpful. The Story Mode included in the game is pretty long, with a lot of motion graphics images being used to show most events that take place.
Occasionally there will be some anime cutscenes at key moments, but these are far and few between and a shame they aren’t the highlight of the mode. It would’ve been great to have the entire mode have animated scenes much like a full-length animated movie, with the motion graphics being for more mundane scenes. But anyone that cares more about the characters rather than the overall presentation won’t find this much of a bother.
The gameplay is king, however, and BlazBlue: Central Fiction has fast-paced and pretty fighting. Characters from previous games get small tweaks and adjustments to compensate with all of the new fighters, as well as overall balancing across the board. A number of offline modes keep things busy outside of just the Story Mode and standard Arcade gameplay. Luckily for fans of the BlazBlue universe, Arcade mode has three separate paths that give bits of story at different points, all of which can be unlocked by completing Arcade mode with a character 3 separate times.
This might get repetitive for some, but it does offer different parts of a character’s arc and different opponent’s you faced each time. Those looking for more focus on gameplay have extra gameplay modes like Score Attack, Speed Star, and Grim of the Abyss to mix things up. All of these keep the fighting as the main highlight, with different criteria for clearing them or getting high scores that can be shared online. Some of them can be short, depending on how you approach them, but if you’re very clever with how you play BlazBlue, you can get very far in them.
Regardless of all of this, the BlazBlue game’s always have a high level of quality with their presentation. Stage backgrounds and effects still look phenomenal and maintain their high level of quality on the Nintendo Switch, even in portable mode. The soundtrack has a ton of great tunes, all of which can be listened to in the game’s menus, as well as selected for training mode and versus battles beforehand. Unlike prior entries of the series, however, BlazBlue: Central Fiction only has Japanese voiceover with subtitles, no English voices this time. For some that might be an issue, especially if you enjoyed the voices of the English cast, but others might not be bothered with having only Japanese voices.
Extra bonus artwork and cinematics can be unlocked by playing the game and obtaining currency from matches. Every battle online and every time you complete Arcade Mode and Story mode yields currency to spend in the game’s shop.
Although it can be difficult gaining a lot of currency after completing the main story since the game doesn’t give you much for other game modes. Those looking to obtain all the bonus items as completionist have a long road ahead of them. Exclusive to the Special Edition of the game are a few bonus color options for all characters, which will add more variety to matches between players on and offline.
Another great aspect of the series is the training modes that help players out in a variety of ways. There’s standard Training that allows you to go into any stage with any characters and just practice your moves, but it’s the other modes like the Tutorial and Challenge Mode that will really take your skills to a new level. Every aspect of the gameplay and basics of BlazBlue is covered in a very detailed, newcomer-friendly Tutorial that is very well done.
Though there’s a lot of information to go through, you’ll definitely pick up something you can take with you into other fighting games with how well the tutorial walks you through each step of the game. Challenge Mode, on the other hand, will test you in different ways with each character you play with, making you try combos you’d otherwise never know or understand how to do. These can become very difficult and will take time to complete, but if you dedicate yourself to trying and trying again, eventually you’ll catch on. There’s definitely a difficulty curve here, but there’s supposed to be.
The online modes of BlazBlue: Central Fiction are where get murky. It can be difficult getting into a Ranked or Player match in the game, especially when the majority of what you find is borderline unplayable. Latency issues are abundant and terrible matchmaking will throw people over wide skill gaps together. This could be due to the number of players online at the given moment, but it happens very frequently and can’t be avoided. There are options to change the preferences of who and where you get matched up with, but they hardly seem effective at times.
It can be frustrating matching up with someone that has over 30 wins when you’ve only just started finishing a few matches. When matches are plagued by slowdown or stuttering, they become a real nightmare to get through. Quitting out of a match will give you a penalty, so unless you want to hurt your online rankings and further affect your matchmaking, it’s definitely not recommended you immediately leave an online match.
BlazBlue: Central Fiction Special Edition gives fans of the series more of what they love despite the few shortcomings it has. The characters and story are still outrageous and very anime, and the gameplay is still fast and furious. You might be lost with the plot of the BlazBlue universe if you’ve only just gotten into the series, but if you’re coming into this just for the solid gameplay you’ll still have plenty to love. Online matches are not the winner here, but everything else still has plenty of fight you can sink your teeth into. There’s a lot to dive into with BlazBlue: Central Fiction Special Edition and even better to have it on the go with Nintendo Switch.
This review was based on a digital review code of Blazblue Central Fiction Special Edition for the Nintendo Switch, provided by Arc System Works.