BlazBlue is a 2D fighting series known for it’s ridiculously overdrawn combos and chaotic twitchy gameplay, much in the vein of Arc System Works’ previous work in the Guilty Gear series. Interestingly enough, it’s also received plenty of praise for its story, a rarity for the genre. Because of this, it’s only logical that their latest 3DS release, BlazBlue: Clone Phantasma, would continue to appeal to its hardcore constituency by building on those solid principles, right? Wrong.
Clone Phantasma upends everything fans love about BlazBlue by reducing the gameplay to an insipid doppleganger of Dynasty Warriors and its ilk. Yes, instead of stringing together blows in a dramatic one on one battle, you’ll be mashing the same buttons over and over again in order to defeat the same generic enemies in droves. And the way you defeat them is limited to two means: knocking them off the edge of the platform you’re situated on, and using your super move which automatically knocks off whoever is around you. Last long enough to build up your power meter to level 3 (which you can do in your sleep), and your super move will clear the screen. The only downside at that point is that sometimes you character will end up dizzy, leaving them open to be knocked off themselves. At the end of a handful waves you’ll reach a boss battle (usually another cast member from the series) that is only a tad more difficult because you have to knock them off three times instead of one, wow.
The story meanwhile is almost non-existent, mostly consisting of inside jokes I didn’t get as I hadn’t really delved into the story of the original games before. There may be something for the fans here, but as completing each character’s run through the story mode only takes about 15 minutes or so, there’s not exactly a lot of content in the end.
Visually, the game is lacking as well. All the characters and enemies are in super deformed form, with oversized heads generally making everyone look alike. The environments are spartan and only differ in texturing, background, and layout of the platform. Even worse, turning up the 3D effect only causes the overlay to pop out. Everything else stays flat. Clearly not a lot of effort was expended in this department, and the same goes for the sound, which falls victim to the issue that plagues every beat ‘em up, meaning everything descends into a cacophony of grunts and shrieking making it hard to notice anything else going on.
It’s extremely difficult to recommend this game to anyone unless you just have to have everything BlazBlue, no matter how bad it is, or you just love button mashing brawlers (might I suggest Senran Kagura then, which at least has fan service going for it?). This is a game that belongs in free to play format on mobile phones as its a waste on a real handheld like the 3DS. At least they’re only charging $6 for this, so you’re not out too much if you disregard my opinion.