BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma
Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom have dominated the fighting scene with Mortal Kombat and Tekken also holding their own in the market. But a new contender entered in 2008 when arcades featured BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. A year later, the game hit home consoles giving fans of fighters a new game to master. Looking back on it, BlazBlue could have been a risky venture for publisher Aksys Games. Was there a market for a new fighting game that was so entrenched in story that it played out like an anime episode?
The answer is yes. Since Aksys first published BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger on consoles, the company has gone on to release follow-ups with Continuum Shift. Two updated versions Continuum Shift II and Continuum Shift Extend also brought the franchise to handheld devices. Now Aksys is bringing us the third entry in the BlazBlue arc, entitled Chrono Phantasma for the PlayStation 3. We were able to sit down with producer Toshimichi Mori to find out more about Chrono Phantasma.
The console version of Chrono Phantasma has a greatly enhanced story mode from its arcade counterpart, and Mori confirmed that the lingering questions are finally answered. “We’re working toward one big ending and really want to unify everything,” Mori says. Chrono Phantasma also spotlights six main heroes and a major theme is the past. It features one basic storyline and different characters make their way in and out of it. Also who you play as shifts throughout the story mode depending on what's going on in the story, so you're never locked into one character the whole way. For instance, depending on what happens, a certain character may not be available and new ones may enter the ring to bring the story together.
Chrono Phantasma’s narrative centers on wanted criminal Ragna, who we last saw in Continuum Shift on his way to Ikaruga with Taokaka. Ragna left fans hanging by saying he had something that must be done there, but didn’t confess what. Chrono Phantasma should shed some light on that last revelation. However, don’t expect this to be the end of the BlazBlue story arc. “It’s not going to be an end; we’re going towards the end. You can expect more [BlazBlue],” Mori confirms. This entry is more about unifying everybody’s stories. And it’s one of the parts Mori is most excited for fans to experience, who says there’s a lot to dissect for those who are fans of the story.
Expect some cool new Drives, which use the heat gauge to perform special moves, for the expanded roster as well. New character, Kagura Mutsuki’s Drive revolves around his different stances, which cause him to perform two different specials. Mori says Mutsuki is “focused on justice” and “straightforward and honest.” Mori also discussed his polar opposite, another new character named Yuuki Terumi, who Mori says is “straight-up evil.” Terumi can also absorb power from opponents for his heat gauge, which gives him extra Distortion Drives.
Mori also shed some light on a new “Overdrive” system. In the past, the series used “bursts” to activate in emergency circumstances to dodge attacks. Overdrive is the opposite. If a character hits Overdrive, he or she gets more aggressive, similar to X-factor in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Also Mori’s goal is to focus on the casual players as well. He understands that picking up a fighting game and learning the ropes can be overwhelming, so he worked on a “stylish mode,” so users can get into it easier and used to the gameplay. He compared it to driving a car and starting on automatic, but then working your way up to manual. “I made the mode so it would be easier for players to play, but then could step it up and level up as a fighting player,” Mori says.
Also, player feedback was taken into account this time around for online play. “[My] philosophy is to make player matching as comfortable as possible.” The matchmaking system has been refined to match players of the same skill level more smoothly and easily and Arc System Works worked on making the network more stable. “I wanted everyone to have fun, so I balanced things out,” Mori says. It’s clear he’s trying to make sure people of all skill levels can find excitement with Chrono Phantasma. This time around he doesn’t want anyone to feel alienated or left out.
As for the future, Mori would like the BlazBlue series to take off even more in the U.S. fighting community. He hopes to one day showcase it at EVO. Either way, with new characters, modes, and finally some resolved parts of the story, Chrono Phantasma is set to take the series to new places, pleasing fans and attempting to bring in newcomers at the same time.