Fighting games with a heavy focus on anime characters often have a lot of content to offer, but there are a few exceptions to this every once in a while. BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle may have a very interesting combination of characters from varying series, but it doesn’t help alleviate how meager the entire package feels. A shallow story with very little substance keeps things simple, and a lack of key options and extras keep newcomers in the dark on most characters. Despite the core fighting feeling very solid and easy to get into unless you’re already a fan of the BlazBlue universe or any of the other characters included in the roster, it’s going to be difficult to become fully invested in what Cross Tag Battle tries to do with its four-way crossover.
The fighting in BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle is a lot more streamlined than what previous Arc System Works games have been beforehand, particularly the core BlazBlue series. Every character on the roster has three attack buttons and one tag button to work with, where you can use a combination of them and directional inputs to execute a variety of special moves and attacks. There is depth here for all the different kinds of combos and unique moves each character has, but you’d be totally fine pressing one button for longer combos and fighting significantly well. There’s no option to change this in either offline or online multiplayer modes, but it doesn’t offer a significant imbalance to matches.
The visuals are exactly what one would come to expect from the same creators of BlazBlue or Persona 4 Arena, flashy effects and a whole lot of detail in the sprites of each fighter. The attacks are over-the-top and really go all out in their presentation, especially with some of the bigger and flashier super moves. Stages are pulled from all four series, including some iconic locations from the BlazBlue and Persona universes, with a few nods to RWBY and Under Night in Birth.
While most of the sprites are pulled from previously released games, the sprites for the RWBY characters are brand new and look great in the second dimension. These characters have always been presented in 3D from the show they’re based from, but actually translate very well into 2D sprites.
Most of the issues with BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle come from the lack of some extras that could’ve rounded off the experience, as well as a little more balance with the character selection. Before getting any of the additionally downloadable fighters, the roster is incredibly slanted towards the BlazBlue casts, with not as many other characters being included from the other series. This changes a lot if you get the extra character packs, but just playing the game out of the box is a very different story.
Not all of the RWBY characters are included, same with the Persona and Under Night casts, which is confusing since they appear in the game’s Episode story mode frequently. In addition, there is no database or extra section of the Gallery mode that gives profiles for everyone the roster, which can leave many people unfamiliar with some of these characters in the dark. Even a short bio that gives a small overview of a character’s story from their original series would’ve gone a long way, instead of nothing at all.
The Episode Mode story for Cross Tag Battle is very short lived. There are four episodes to play through, with each focusing on a separate series that attempts to explain why all these characters are coming together. What you get is a series of events that don’t always make sense and end up being a drag by the time you complete each episode. The stories at times contradict each other and do a minimal effort to showcase the personalities and appeal of some of the more popular characters.
If you’re someone who already follows the different series that these fighters are from, then you may not be bothered as much by the lack of focus on this. However, most people will be meeting some of these characters for the first time and the story does very little to build them up well. You don’t get much from completing each episode outside of a few Gallery extras, which makes finishing the story feel even more like a waste of time.
Going online for multiplayer with BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle is straightforward and works pretty well. There are a lot of options to battle in ranked battles or lobbies, presented in a chibi-style hub that fits well with all the anime flair in the game. You can customize your own avatar and online profile with different options unlocked from playing the other modes, however, what is available does feel somewhat limited. Most matches you partake in will be stable enough to complete, with very few instances being unplayable due to connection issues. If you find yourself enjoying the fighting enough, then there’s plenty of people to play with online either casually or competitively.
BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle is a great concept for a cross-over fighting game, but there could’ve been more there for everyone to make it be something special. The fighting system is solid and great for anyone to get into, even though the roster selection feels heavily leaning towards one series over the other three included. Unlike previous Arc System Works games, Cross Tag Battle doesn’t have a lot of extras that everyone will be playing a long time to collect, which is a bummer. But if you’re already a fan of the four series included here and love playing fighting games with your friends, there will still be something here for you.
This review is based on a digital review code of BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle for the Nintendo Switch, provided by Arc System Works.