Review – BlazBlue: Central Fiction Special Edition

For the uninitiated, BlazBlue can be described as Arc System Works’ secondary fighting franchise. The company is better known as the developers behind Guilty Gear and its licensed twin, Dragon Ball FighterZ, a fighting franchise all about high-quality anime graphics, flashy combos, exaggerated character design, and one of the most adrenaline-pumping heavy metal soundtracks in gaming. BlazBlue, while retaining the same gameplay, has always felt like the most tame of Arc’s franchises; characters are sprite-based instead of cel-shaded polygons, interactions are (a bit) less absurd, the soundtrack isn’t solely comprised of headbanging anthems, and so on. That doesn’t mean BlazBlue is a bad fighting franchise and that can be seen with the brand new outing released for the Switch, BlazBlue: Central Fiction Special Edition.

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That monster is slashing a poor lass in half with a huge smile on his face.

BlazBlue: Central Fiction Special Edition is an enhanced port of the game originally released for PS3 and PS4 in 2016; this time around featuring all previously released DLC in one package. This is, without a doubt, the most complete BlazBlue I’ve played so far, and it’s a breath of fresh air after the DLC-riddled disappointment that Cross Tag Battle turned out to be.

This iteration features 36 different characters available right from the get-go. Each character has their own arcade mode story, complete with voice acting and specific scenes. There’s also a bigger story mode involving the vast majority of the roster, a huge glossary for those who aren’t familiar with BlazBlue lore, a time attack mode, a score attack mode, a survival mode, a deep tutorial, online multiplayer, and a challenge mode featuring twenty missions per character, with seven hundred twenty of those bad boys in total. Without a doubt, there’s a lot to do and see in BlazBlue: Central Fiction Special Edition, but a fighting game isn’t comprised solely of a ton of content. The gameplay is as important, if not more.

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A talking cat fighting what I assume is also a talking cat.

Thankfully, the gameplay in this title is still top-notch, but just like any other fighting game released for the Switch, it suffers from the d-pad’s terrible design. If you really want to use Central Fiction‘s more combo-based fighting style option, I highly recommend using the Switch’s fantastic Pro Controller. Then again, if you’re a Switch owner who’s really into fighting games, chances are you already own one of those. For those without access to a Pro Controller, or those who aren’t as experienced with the typical newcomer-unfriendly combo-heavy gameplay present in most Arc System Works games, there’s also an option to choose a “Stylish” mode, a much more simplified control scheme that allows for much easier combos and the ability to perform special moves with the press of a single button.

In terms of graphics and sound, Central Fiction Special Edition follows the same pattern as the more recent BlazBlue outings. As previously mentioned, BlazBlue games don’t feature the same jaw-dropping cel-shaded polygonal technique implemented in Guilty Gear, instead focusing on highly detailed 2D sprites. The results are still very good, though. The character models looked a bit better than in Cross Tag Battle, even if the latter came out after Central Fiction. The game looked more impressive on handheld mode, as the sprites looked less stretched, and the framerate was still at constantly high numbers despite the tons of visual effects onscreen.

The music selection is more eclectic than Guilty Gear, ranging from rock tunes to your typical sugary j-pop. There’s also a lot of (Japanese) voice acting, which is definitely one of the game’s main highlights.

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Your typical anime family feud. For those who don’t know BlazBlue lore, those lads are brothers.

BlazBlue: Central Fiction Special Edition is, so far, one of the best fighting games available for the Switch. Being able to play such a well-polished and content-filled arcade fighter wherever and whenever I want to is definitely a plus. Arc System Works definitely knows how to deliver quality fighters, and Central Fiction will remain as the Switch’s best traditional fighting game until they finally decide to port Guilty Gear to the system. I can’t wait!

 

Graphics: 7.5

The anime-ish sprites might not look as jaw-dropping as the visuals present in Guilty Gear, but they’re still pretty. So is the amount of particles onscreen, as well as the constantly high framerate. Looks better than Cross Tag Battle, at least.

Gameplay: 8.0

The “Stylish” control setting is perfect for newcomers. The controls aren’t difficult and the game offers tons of tutorials, but make sure to grab a Pro Controller if you want to play this game. The joycons weren’t made for fighters.

Sound: 8.5

There is a metric ton of Japanese voice acting and some pretty good background tracks. They aren’t as hard rocking or memorable as Guilty Gear, though.

Fun Factor: 9.0

By offering lots of different modes, a huge roster and  an optional newcomer-friendly control scheme, this is easily the best BlazBlue game to date.

Final Verdict: 8.5

BlazBlue: Central Fiction Special Edition is available now on Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of BlazBlue: Central Fiction Special Edition was provided by the publisher.

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