In the world of virtual fisticuffs there are 2D fighting games and then there are 2D fighting games, those series and franchises that are often the richest in mechanics and delicately-balanced subsystems, filled with equally convoluted plots and backstories. On the flip-side, that usually means said games are super-niche in their popularity and are almost impossible for new players to penetrate. BlazBlue has had that reputation for years, but recent entries have slowly started to peel away the layers of that violent onion.
And while last year’s BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle spinoff was a heavy dilution more akin to Blade Strangers or SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, BlazBlue Centralfiction Special Edition is a proper, full-fat entry and one that continues that trend of appealing to the hardcore input veterans while offering enough accessibility to coax in new fans to the rebel fold. Sure, it's based on an arcade release from 2015, but we won't let that count against it.
Fashionable lateness aside, it’s a joy to have a mainline BlazBlue on Nintendo Switch for the very first time. This is a franchise with a serious pedigree on handhelds, so not only is it well-suited to a flurry of battles in handheld mode, it’s also one that benefits from that extra time out in the wild. That ‘Special Edition’ moniker is the same as the ‘Extend’ subtitle given to previous re-releases, so Switch players are getting all the DLC that’s currently been released, bundled into one lovely package.
If you’ve played the series before (especially the previous entry in the series, the excellent BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma), you’ll be pleased to see all 28 of its combatants return to the roster, including mainstays Ragna the Bloodedge and popular new additions such as Kagura Mutsuki. Another eight have been bundled in from the console editions and DLC updates, making this the most complete and populous instalment yet. If you can’t find a character among this rowdy lot that takes your fancy, then fighting games probably aren’t for you.
Centralfiction doesn’t overhaul its formula – in all honesty, it doesn’t need to, such is the finely-tuned balance of its 2D fighting action – but it does make some important tweaks here and there. Speed and combo finesse is still the order of the day, so the new Active Flow system rewards players who are willing to press the attack. It’s a change that will give users playing in Stylish mode (Centralfiction’s simplified input model for less experienced fighters) more flair while veterans will love a little more firepower to play with.
Even without all the extra characters and costume variants afforded by the various updates and DLC released over the years, Centralfiction is a staggeringly vast package. Unlike many other fighters, which simply use their own respective arcade mode as a rudimentary story mode, Arc System Works' latest mainline effort boasts a fully-voiced and fully-animated story that brings the current Ragna-focused saga to a close. New players might struggle to follow what's going on, but if you've been invested in this multi-layered story previously, Centralfiction has plenty of pay-off (even if most of it is nonsense). It's hard to know where the series will go next, but it's a fine narrative sendoff, nonetheless.
Unfortunately, the issues surrounding an English dub – or the lack thereof, to be more specific – extends into Centralfiction on Switch so you'll have to make do with the original Japanese voiceover and English subtitles. If you're a purist, you'll likely not be bothered, but it can be a struggle to follow everything going on in a cutscene and read every hyper-fast subtitle. There is the option to skip right into the action, should you lose your tolerance midway through. There's even a huge index of terms and entries for various characters and events, so if you want to gorge on lore, it's right there in the palm of your hands.
Mode-wise, Centralfiction is packing some serious heat. Alongside that long story mode (and we mean long – there's even the option to watch a 30-minute recap of the entire mainline story plot), you'll have access to Grim of Abyss mode (which sees you using and collecting special cards that increase your stats), Score Attack mode (which, unsurprisingly, is all about racking up the best combos and Drive finishes to compete on global leaderboards) and Star Score mode (where you'll try and beat as many opponents as you can before a persistent clock reaches zero). The latter is one of the best setups in the game as you add time by pulling off impressive combos. There's even the obligatory Network mode for when you want to take the fight online. We experienced minimal lag thanks to Arc System Works' ever-reliable netcode.
BlazBlue Centralfiction Special Edition may be a few years late to Nintendo Switch, but that time hasn't dulled the sharpness of its 2D fighting package. Not only does it give the Ragna saga a proper send-off with a story mode that's so rich in character development it could be a full anime season in its own right, but it offers a staggering number of modes to keep you playing long after the credits roll. It runs silky-smooth docked or in handheld modes and runs like a dream online. The lack of an English dub still rankles, and new adopters are going to have to do a lot of research to understand what's going on, but it's well worth the effort.
FANTASTIC game that I already own on the ponystation 3.
How are the pixels in docked mode? Better than cross tag battle?
Whew! This game looks awesome! I really would much prefer a physical copy though...I've never imported a game before, but I may hafta see about getting the European release. Do I have to set up another eshop account or any other changes to play an imported game?
Waiting on payday!!!
@nin10doom Nah no need for a new account if the game is physical. Import and have fun.
Eh, I'll look into it under a price drop/good sale price. I enjoyed its Japanese demo on eShop, but not enough to make me hooked to buying it.
Besides, I have Smash Ultimate, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and Jump Force (on another system) to satisfy my fighting needs.
Only physcial from Japan and EU but NA gets the cheap treatment eShop.
I was always a big Blazblue Fan and played it a lot on my PS3 back then. I was very disappointed about CrossTag Battle and its "easy inputs", so I was very hyped when this title here was announced. I don't know why, but I don't like it. I thought, maybe I'm just not in Blazblue anymore, so I played the first one on my PS3... I played it for the whole night. It's that game and I don't know why. It's Blazblue, but somehow it's not. Can't desripe it actually. The controls just don't feel right and the little changes in characterdesign and roster are so ugly in my eyes.
At least you can play the demo, so you will not be so disappointed when you buy it blind like me.
Can't understand this high rating.
I have BlazBlue CTB, not sure if I should pick this up. Would probably import if I do.
The best BlazBlue fighting edition out there. Still waiting on my physical copy from Play-Asia.
Dub or no buy for me.
Importing from EU
@nin10doom wait wait wait...does it not release physically in the West? I thought it did!
@Indielink Awesome to hear! Thanks, I may just give importing a try!
@clvr Sadly, it doesn't look like the physical version is releasing in the US. But it seems we can import the EU version, which I may give a go!
Love this game. Putting my Hori d-pad to great use with this one.
@nin10doom ah I see! Luckily I’m Eurpean, so no need to import!
Thanks for the info!
I never played a proper BlazBlue game but I played other games from the company like P4AU and Under Night, and I was really excited for this. But no physical in the US? That sucks. I will never pay $50 for a digital title. If it were $20, even $30, I'd bite, but it looks like I'll have to either import or wait or a deep, deep sale.
How many games do I have to play to understand the story up to this point?
How can it be a few years late to Nintendo Switch, when the Switch isn't even 2 years old yet?
That's means it could only have been a 1 year old game if it was a launch title.
Hardly long in the tooth.
Fighting games are probably my favorite but I’m not good at them and find all those extremely difficult to complete combos a really put off. That’s why I found Cross Tag Battle so good and satisfying.
This game, being for the most hardcore fighting fans might prove too much for me... but I loved Cross Tag Battle so much that I’ll probably pick it up sooner or later.
Sadly, the game looks like it’s not doing well here in Japan. The last I read about it last weekend it had sold only about 2000 copies...
I just think I could use a another fighting game besides Smash and the Neo Geo games I got going here. I’ve played Blazblue to death on the 360 days so I think it’s time to get back into.
I thought this was an enhanced edition of that BlazBlue game already on Switch... so I’m confused? I guess I need to do some research on the series.
Ugh, no physical in the States??? That makes me very sad.
Tempted....might pick it up depending on the price
@gloom No. That other game, "Cross Tag Battle" is a spin off and I'm not sure it should even be considered a true BlazBlue game. It had minimal single player content, and at least half of its characters were brought in from other franchises, its story doesn't follow the main series games. The game they're releasing now is a full fledged entry in the series.
@MotionMan We are living in the times of the first ever region free Nintendo home console, abuse that.
What the switch needs is guilty gear revelator xrd rev.2. The best fighting game imaginable and nobody played it.
@gloom BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle is essentially a spin-off that takes the base engine from actual BlazBlue Games and modifies it.
It also, of course, is made to be a crossover game that takes a lot of the franchises that Arc System Works owns and throws them into the mix. It also threw in 4 characters from the RWBY series.
Personally, I say this 1 is the superior game, the character roster has every single playable character from the BlazBlue series and the issue with BlazBlue CTB is they had to strip away a lot of the movesets for the characters due to making room for the Tag-Team mechanics.
@TheFox "and at least half of its characters were brought in from other franchises"
I mean, isn't that a given? The game was made to be a crossover so of course it's going to have more than just BlazBlue. And of course the story isn't "true to the series", it's a spin-off.
That said, I do agree with you on the content, they could have done more.
@JamesJose7 If you really care about the characters you're playing as, start with BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend on the Playstation 3, it has a remaster of the original story and has it's own story to boot. Then you have BlazBlue Chronophantasma which is the sequel and then finally this 1. To be fair though, BlazBlue Central Fiction does have short story recap at the beginning of it's story but I'm not too sure if it will suffice for a newcomer.
I will warn you though; The story is presented like a visual novel with some fights sprinkled out and it can get very confusing.
@NCChris thanks bud, yeah the story and format seem very appealing to me. I don't expect to fully engage with story just with that recap on Central Fiction. I'll found a way to play those before.
@LordVal This is a huge step up from calamity trigger in terms of gameplay.
@jobvd to me it feels slower and it does not respond as good as the the first installment. Maybe I have to practice more. When Street Fighter III came out I was so shocked about the controls (and the soundtrack of course), but after some game nights I got into it (not the music).
I should give it another try maybe.
@LordVal you should keep playing. Calamity trigger is amazing in atmosphere and music and voiceacting but this one beats it in gameplay. This one IS faster than ct.
@Dualmask Digital content has some major advantages, especially for fighting games like this that will be in heavy rotation. I get that digital isn't for everyone, but $50 isn't too pricey for digital imo.
@Frontiersmann to each their own...the funds aren't a problem, but to me, on general principle I can't justify paying the same amount for a digital game that the physical would normally cost. No case, box, cart, manual, shelf space, nothing, just a downloaded file. I've bought plenty of digital games, but I've never spent more than $25 on any (and even that price is rare for me).
just made an account to let you know its on a big sale right now
@solidus I caught it on sale a while ago, actually. Think I paid $15-20 for it, but it's been a while since then, so I don't remember. Thanks though.
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