Updates to fighting games are nothing new. Chronophantasma Extend arrives as the latest installment in the Blazblue series, serving as an update to the third main game in the saga. As expected, the ever-growing cast of characters has been rebalanced, and new content has been added.
The main selling points for Extend are the two new characters, Celica A. Mercy and Lambda-11. Well, actually one new character and one “new” character. Celica is all new, but Lambda has been around for almost every version of the game, with her play style being mixed into another character’s in the previous version of Chronophantasma. Now Lambda is back to being her own character, which is neat, but not a particularly exciting.
Lambda-11 may be familiar to fans of the franchise, but Celica fights with a completely unique moveset. Celica herself isn’t much of a fighter, though, and similar to a few other characters in the series, she uses a giant doll robot to help out in battle. Unlike the other characters with dolls, Celica isn’t independent of her companion. Instead, they work together to create a variety of attacks, although in reality, the doll does most of the fighting and Celica’s basically along for the ride.
Celica stands out as a character with a lot of simple, easy to use tools. Her combos are relatively simple, she has a lot of ways to pressure the opponent, and she can even heal herself to help make up for mistakes. If you’re just getting into Blazblue, Celica strikes me as one of the more interesting beginner-friendly characters that the game has to offer.
Aside from Celica, Extend also adds some new expansions to the game’s story. The original Chronophantasma story remains intact, but now you can play through recaps of the previous games’ stories, a new “Extend” scenario, some gag reels, and a tie-in story with the prequel manga Blazblue: Remix Heart.
Some of the new story content is interesting, but overall there’s really not much here. The Extend scenario expands upon events that were already covered in the original Chronophantasma story, with very little new information actually being revealed. The gag reels have always been hit-or-miss, and that’s especially true for the eight new ones introduced in Extend. I was honestly expecting a lot worse from the Remix Heart stuff, as I personally found the manga to be pretty terrible, but the game incarnation turned out to be surprisingly tolerable.
Overall, the story offering feels bland. Anyone invested in the Blazblue lore might get a few interesting moments and maybe some chuckles, but even then none of the new scenarios have very long run-times. Nothing gets expanded on in a meaningful way, so it all ends up feeling rather pointless. Anyone who’s invested in the story would do better to just wait until the next main installment of the series.
That’s actually how I feel about Extend in general. If you’re new to Blazblue, then know that Celica’s a fun beginner character and that Extend provides a nice jumping on point. But unless you’re heavily invested in the competitive scene or just really love Blazblue, you would be best served by skipping Extend and coming back for the next game.
Food for Thought:
1. I played the PS4 version, and unfortunately it turns out that PS3 sticks still don’t work on PS4. Street Fighter has done it, Mortal Kombat has done it, and Skullgirls has done it, so I’m really hoping ArcSys gets it together for their next game.
2. One point in ArcSys’s favor, however, is that there is cross-play online between the PS3 and PS4 versions of the game. Unfortunately with the stick issue, I think I will be defeated by my PS3 friends a little more often than I did in the previous version of Chronophantasma.
2. Celica’s animations are pretty amusing, just about everything she does oozes with personality. It’s definitely apparent that the artists had a lot of fun designing how her attacks look.
3. One neat thing about Extend is that all of the DLC for the original version of Chronophantasma can be unlocked in-game under reasonable conditions. As someone intimately familiar with ArcSys’s brand of overpriced DLC, I was absolutely stunned. You don’t even have to beat insanely overpowered super AI characters! It’s nuts! The selection of stuff is pretty fun too, a lot of old stages and music from the previous games.