Blazblue Cross Tag Battle Review

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It’s time to take a look at one of the most eagerly awaited games of 2018! The instant that the first teaser trailer came out I knew that this was going to be an all star title. RWBY characters were finally getting a chance in the spotlight and I was also finally able to experience the Blazblue fighting style. Needless to say the game is a blast. Unfortunately while the game was expected to be relatively low budget, I still did expect a little more than what the game had to offer. It’s a great title, but perhaps one that I cannot call masterful.

The premise of the game’s story is that every character from 4 different worlds have been kidnapped. Each world gets 4-8 different fighters who compete in a big tournament to decide all of their fates. The champion must grab all 4 of the Keystones and make it to the end. Sounds simple enough, but will this mysterious cosmic being really let them go so easily? You typically can’t trust these mysterious characters. Most of the characters here just want to fight so don’t expect most confrontations to end calmly.

There are 4 stories, one for each of the various series in the game. The stories have 8 battles within them and a general story in the background. Blazblue is the only story with multiple endings though. The stories are fairly quick at around 70 minutes each and only around 10 if you skip cutscenes. The cutscenes are pretty long and have voice acting which is great but each character only has 1 stock pose. This means that characters look like they’re about to fight in every scene even when it’s a peaceful discussion. The most obvious example of this is the Persona character whose illustration shows her throwing out a kick. You see this same kick for every single scene she is in. Most games come with at least 3 illustrations for exactly this reason and it’s actually a little crazy that this game only uses one. I’ve seen mobile games with what looks like a higher budget.

Also, the story doesn’t even make much sense at all. The high above being needs energy from the combatants in order to take over their worlds. She even has a rule in place that prevents them from fighting unless it’s a tag battle so as not to waste her time. Yet, she loses control of the characters randomly at times. Sometimes she is eavesdropping on the heroes to know their plans and sometimes she just doesn’t. She does such a glorious job of messing everything up that it makes it tough for you to take the game seriously. Her power level is just very inconsistent and most of the characters act completely out of character as well. I just think the story could have been way better and honestly it is the weakest part of the game. I wouldn’t even call the game low budget at all if not for the story. The story is what makes it appear that way with the writers just phoning in the plot and not really doing much with it. If we ever do get a sequel or a full fledged RWBY game, I hope they put ore thought into it.

The gameplay is your standard 2D fighter. You attack other players with long combos and finals smashes as you attempt to get their life bars down to 0. The battles are all 2 on 2 so tagging in and out adds to the strategy of it all. There are easy auto combos that you can use while you start the game, but eventually you want to move onto more advanced techniques or you will be doomed against the stronger foes. I have no complaints with the gameplay as it flows very well and is just very well done.

There are quite a few different modes to play here aside from the story. Naturally there is the training mode which is pretty handy as well as Tactics mode. There you learn combos and complete tutorials about the game. The vast majority of the game’s replay value is through it’s online and local multiplayer mode of course. Knowing this, most of the trophies in the game are obtained through these features. You can even obtain the Platinum in around 3 hours if you are truly rushing. If you don’t have online then you want to play a lot of multiplayer matches locally. If you are just playing for single player content then you will be done very quickly.

The game got a lot of controversy for locking half of the characters behind a paywall and rightfully so. The developers are basically just reusing the characters from previous games so it hardly costs them anything. I do appreciate the price of the game being reduced to help justify this, but it’s still not a good look. As a result you fight some characters in the game that you can’t even play as. We’ll see how much each character is, but I don’t think I will be purchasing any of them. I just don’t play the game enough to make it worth it as opposed to something like Smash 4.

One of the big positives of the game is its rich soundtrack. Blazblue has always had a bunch of great themes and now we get to hear the RWBY ones alongside it. Persona and Under Night’s themes aren’t bad either so it’s just a very complete soundtrack. It’s nice to have voice acting for all of the characters as well since it makes the game look more polished. The graphics are certainly top of the line so the game’s developers spared no expense in this arena. The Astral Finish move that each of the characters have looks great and the gameplay is very bright and dynamic. Even if some aspects of the game were rushed, these certainly weren’t.

Overall, Cross Tag Battle is a great game. You just have to decide on if you want to look at it in a glass half full view where you’re just glad that the game actually got made and licensed or in a half empty view where there is so much more that could have been done with it. It’s not perfect, but it’s still a game that I had a blast playing even if it was a rather brief experience. I’ll at least go back to unlock some more trophies and if I ever buy a month of PS+ to get some online trophies maybe I’ll even go for the Platinum. Surely getting to Silver Rank online won’t be that tough right? I’d recommend checking this game out if you’re a big fan of fighters or just want to be able to play as Team RWBY. That alone makes the purchase worth it.

Overall 8/10

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The King of Fighters 2006 Review

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It’s time to look at a King of Fighters title! I actually haven’t played too many of the games in this series, but enough at this point where I have a good grasp of the series. Aside from the new PS4 one I played the first Maximum Impact and 2 of the GBA titles. This one is probably the most plot heavy game that I’ve played and that’s not saying a whole lot since it’s just a bunch of Arcade modes like most of the old fighters. The plots do get pretty out there though and I hope that they actually got to finish.

The general plot is that the King of Fighters tournament has been revived. However, this time Geese and Duke aren’t the ones pulling the strings. Instead, an alien warrior is the one who has devised this tournament and he wants to take over the body of whoever wins it. Many fighters enter for various reasons. Terry and Rock decide to check it out because they figure a villain is probably running it so they can make sure that nobody gets hurt. K’ and two other operatives check it out because they figure it might give them a lead as to who has been kidnapping famous scientists from around the world. Another alien warrior has entered so she can put a stop to his plans. One android was payed by the alien to eliminate everyone while another has entered for ice cream. Almost every character has a reason to enter while others have absolutely none so the writers stick them in arcade mode without an actual story. That is incredibly lazy if you ask me though so for the future everyone better have a role.

Naturally this can get repetitive if you decide to beat the game with every character though. There are over 30 after all and for the most part they only get 2-3 cutscenes each so you aren’t going to gain a whole lot compared to the 14 battles that you have to win as each character. You get the opening cutscene, an ending cutscene, and then 2-3 mini cutscenes for the final fight. These can definitely be pretty interesting though and I didn’t expect all of this talk about aliens. The game hints at an impending invasion from the rest of the aliens. I somehow get the feeling that this hasn’t happened yet in the games as it probably would have been a big deal, but it did make this game feel a lot more epic. I prefer a general story mode to character stories whenever possible but at least these were pretty interesting. I’d say that over half of the characters have a good reason to continue on with the tournament.

There was once a time where I would try to beat the game as every single character, but now I just beat it with enough characters to unlock everyone. In this case that number was 14 so it was a decently long campaign. There is still a lot of replay value here though like unlocking all of the stages and costume colors. I don’t care too much about the colors, but the stages would be fun to go for. Collecting them all involves completing all of the missions though which would certainly be very difficult to accomplish. That would buy the game a lot of time as well and it’s not as if the price is too high at this point so it’s a good purchase.

The graphics are pretty solid. The character models are on point. I’m not sure what system they use for it, but it seems like a similar style to the old PS2 Naruto games as the actual models are thrown right into the cutscenes which makes them run smoothly. I also imagine that it makes it easier to add a bunch of cutscenes than if they had to animate them all individually. It works pretty well. Then the soundtrack is also good. It’s a little limited since I don’t have too many of the stages, but the ones that we do have sound pretty good to me. On a technical level this game is on point.

Naturally this is the kind of game that is at its peak when you play multiplayer. Going up against a computer is fun enough of course, but fighting another person really lets you see how far you’ve come. Can you land those easy bake combos on someone who knows how to block? That’s the real question. Each character has a good array of normal attacks and special abilities. I believe each character may have around 5 special attacks or maybe even more. There are a lot of control options here so I wouldn’t be surprised if the game has a really high skill ceiling. You can move up and down the map to an extent to dodge attacks and also use a super speed roll. Button mashing doesn’t work as well as in Street Fighter because not every attack is meant to lead into a combo so sometimes you’ll just trap yourself in lag if you use a slow attack. It does make you think about your best course of action though. By the way, since I didn’t really mention the gameplay style earlier, it’s a 2D fighter like Street Fighter. I’m sure you picked that up by now, but just a heads up in case it wasn’t clear.

Overall, This is a pretty fun fighting game. King of Fighters is still a step behind Tekken and Street Fighter for me as far as the actual game series and story goes, but it’s solid in its own right. Perhaps it would move higher if I actually played more of the games. I am pretty interested in the PS3 titles that came to America and I think I’m missing 2-3 PS2 ones as well. I still don’t think it will ever rise to be the top fighting game series or anything, but I am glad that the series was recently revived on the PS4 and hopefully it will continue strong. The more fighting games the better after all. It’s a rather somber thought, but among by 114 video games on the backburner I don’t think I have any fighting games left. That’s actually pretty scary, but shows how that genre is slowing down compared to the others. It’s probably because one game can last a while so there’s no need for sequels. Just look at Street Fighter V or even FighterZ now. I doubt either of those will get a sequel because they will probably last for a long while.

Overall 7/10

King of Fighters Maximum Impact Review

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King of Fighters has always lagged way behind Tekken and Street Fighter for me. None of the characters are particularly interesting and it has always felt like a Street Fighter game, but with all of the iconic characters replaced with randoms. I’m sure that later games have helped to give all of them some personality and backstory, but this game definitely doesn’t help their case. I still have a lot of catching up to do with this series though so hopefully the price goes down on some of the originals soon. I went on my big fighting game kick for Christmas, but there will probably be a different theme this year so it could be a while. Well, let’s dive into this title.

First off, one disappointing thing here is the fact that the Arcade Mode is even more bare bones than usual. Characters don’t even get an opening or an ending anymore. That’s essentially the definition of lazy if you ask me. You are only incentivized to play through the game once since every character has the same opening and ending. There is as slight plot at least, but it is still lazy to now give each character something unique. They are all invited to a tournament that is being held by some gangsters. Once you defeat everyone who stands in your way, you defeat the main villain in front of a large crowd and he says that you’ll both meet again…in hell! It’s a pretty hardcore line even if we completely wrecked this guy.

In a way it is good that the characters don’t get a real story though. That’s because your game option settings don’t apply to Arcade Mode so you have to do a best of 3 the entire time. The final level is also very difficult to the point where button mashing simply won’t be effective anymore. You’ll have to end up actually learning the game a bit and even then it should take several tries to finally beat the final boss unless you’re already a pro. I’d rather not imagine myself doing it with every character and I only ended up completing the game with the first two.

The gameplay is your average 2D fighter like with Street Fighter and the other similar games. It does seem like it is very hard to get up in this game though because attacks seem to have very high priority. In the final level of Arcade Mode, forget about even trying to rise. Your opponent will simply slam you back into the turf every single time and his combos can take out half of your life bar or more with a single combo. Something seems off with this and I could see the competitive scene dying instantly for this game. It reminds me of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for Gamecube. Of course, that game was a blast and had excellent graphics and a solid soundtrack to back it up. It clobbers this game, but that’s another story.

This is still a solid fighting game. It’s why fighters are so much fun. Even if the characters are not all that likable and there is no real story mode to speak of, the vs mode is what really counts here. A good multiplayer mode means instant replay value and this is the kind of game that is perfect for playing at any random time. You can just turn on the PS2 and prepare yourself for some fun games. Of course, it has less replay value if you’re on your own of course. Still, I guess you could have fun fighting the computers for a while.

I’ll give the game some more props for the fact that it actually has a big opening. Back in the day a lot of games skipped this step or barely did anything with it so that was pretty neat. It unfortunately could not get past the trap of including a little fanservice though so that was pretty regrettable. The dialogue and writing is still as clunky as ever, but at this point King of Fighters is known for that so maybe it was partially intentional at the time. Beyond that, the graphics are pretty good. I’d say that they’re certainly above average for this time period and actually look better than the Street Fighter Alpha games. Granted, that may not be saying a whole lot since those games were quite a bit older.

The soundtrack is very solid as well. There is a solid opera esque theme for one of the stages and there are quite a few tunes. The game did a good job of adding in a lot of variety and this really puts Capcom Fighting Evolution to shame surprisingly. This is definitely one of the highlights for King of Fighters so hopefully the future installments will follow suit in this regard. Just give me some more hype music and we’re good.

Overall, Maximum Impact is a worthy spinoff to the main series. I still think that the games could do a better job of making the character likable and motivated. There’s no real reason to pick someone over another character aside from the all important tiers because none of them have any real personality yet. They all seem like tough guys and gals. Everyone seems to share that trait, but they don’t really have anything else to show for it. Terry’s my favorite character, but that’s really because of the name so I’m not totally sure if that counts. There’s not a whole lot to do here besides multiplayer mode, but that should be enough to tide you over. After all, if you’re buying the game, I assume that multiplayer is the reason for your purchase. Hopefully the series will have more of a real arcade mode in the main titles.

Overall 7/10