BlazBlue Central Fiction will most definitely cater to those who are already hardcore fans of the series, but also those who typically enjoy a solid all around anime fighter. On the casual end, the game has plenty of options to choose from, while on the competitive end there’s just about everything you need to have all packaged neatly in this recent hit title from Arc System Works. The fighting game community has always focused its attention towards that of Capcom’s Street Fighter franchise along with Bandai Namco’s popular Tekken series, but as of late a lot more light is being shed on the high-quality action-packed fun that anime fighters provide.
What to Expect
Much of what you’d expect from BlazBlue Central Fiction is there, with familiar characters from past iterations as well as brand new console exclusive characters that you can grab through DLC. Whatever your reason to play BlazBlue, whether it be casual with friends or on the competitive level, Central Fiction hits every category and doesn’t leave anyone feeling left out. The online mode boasts a load of improvements and the lobby system has never felt better.
There are a lot of modes to choose from such as the mentioned online mode, but for those who enjoy a single player experience you have options such as story mode, Grim of Abyss mode, score attack mode, and speed star mode. All of these come with their own perks as you play through them and certainly will provide a challenge for anyone interested in trying them out.
The story is separated into three acts and they all serve as the conclusion to the Azure Saga that took place in Calamity Trigger. The first act titled “Phantom of Labyrinth” focuses around Ragna and the team as they rebel against the powerful ruler Imperator. All hell breaks loose and humanity is turned into seithr, while Ragna was provoked by the Imperator leaving him in a state of madness. The Imperator soon vanishes leaving behind what’s known as the Embryo, a black sphere that hovers in the middle of the sky.
The second act called “Nightmare Memory” leads all of the cast into this alternate reality known as another figment. A mysterious person appears before them as the Great Magister, Nine, who tells them to defeat Izanami as soon as possible. The third act concludes much of what has transpired, with much of the truth being revealed as you play through to the end.
Introduction - Training Mode | Tutorial Mode | Challenge Mode
Anyone who has played BlazBlue on a console before will know that Arc System Works does an exceptional job of making sure everyone’s needs are met, especially in the category pertaining to actually playing the game. Compared to other fighters which have you paying for content and not really living up to expectations with fans of the series, Central Fiction makes sure to place importance in the early phases so that new players can jump right into the fray, and not feel discouraged if you feel the urge to jump online. The training mode is incredibly detailed and truly immerses you in the game, allowing you to get accustomed to how BlazBlue’s system works along with how to pull off basic combos.
Once you’ve completed all areas of the deep training mode, then it’s off to the training room to exercise your newly learned abilities and make sure they’re at tip-top form before heading online. Training mode is fun in its own way because it’s a place where you can start thinking outside of the box, and implementing what you’ve learned in unique ways that fit your playstyle. While characters may come with a certain archetype such as rushdown or zoning, you can mix and match their strengths and weaknesses to really throw your opponent off. Training mode also allows you to select various options to help make things easier, such as making your button presses visible on screen to see if you’re landing your combos effectively.
Challenge Mode throws you into a room full of objectives that you’ll need to complete in order to progress. Most of these objectives consist of character specific things such as pulling off certain combos, but aside from that Challenge Mode is really a place where you can simply practice your timing and maybe get a chance to see how other characters match up against yours. Perhaps the better Challenge Mode in this sense is Training Mode since most of the time you’ll be challenging yourself to figure out ways around your opponents setups, etc.
Be that as it may, Challenge Mode are for those who enjoy a little more single player fun and shouldn’t be taken too seriously especially if your intention is to play against real opponents online at some point.
Story Mode | Arcade Mode
As we explained earlier in the story section, the story is split up into three acts, all of which come together at the end to conclude the Azure Saga from past iterations of the game. Going into more gameplay detail, the mode features beautiful anime cutscenes along with solid dialogue to keep you entertained. It’s a lot like watching an actual anime while having the chance to take part in the story as you play. You do get the opportunity to pick parts of the dialogue but it all eventually leads towards the same ending. The story mode isn’t very long but it’s certainly worth it if you’re just looking to grab some more trophies to your collection, and once again focus on a more casual experience.
The arcade mode is much like the actual arcade version where you battle out characters in the story mode, but while doing so can be challenged by an opponent. So if you’re looking to relive the true arcade experience like you would here in Japan, then arcade mode is definitely a great place to start. Another plus is that it acts as a nice training mode in itself since you can practice your combos and get your hands warmed up before being challenged by your opponent.
Grim of Abyss Mode
Grim of Abyss Mode is an interesting one in that, you’re thrown into what feels like a survival mode of sorts and as you run a muck through a horde of non-stop characters in dungeons, you collect skills and buff your character up as you make your way to the boss. It’s certainly challenging because despite the buffs you collect along the way that allow you to regenerate health or take less damage with defense up, time is always against you and you go into the next match with the remaining health from the previous one. So it tests you to stay on alert, work on changing up your approach, and most importantly learning how to block. For some reason in competitive fighting, people always seem to forget that blocking exists and perhaps is the most pivotal skill one must learn in the beginning.
Outside of collecting various skills and items while traversing through tough dungeons, Grim of Abyss mode is merely just a place where you can take your mind off ranked mode for a while and once again collect trophies if that’s your forte. We certainly had fun with this mode because it always came with surprises and despite having experience with the series as a whole, the CPU will always make those random reads and totally destroy you.
Score Attack Mode
Just as the title states, this mode is all about getting that high score so you can brag to your buddies about how quickly you managed to take out Kokonoe with your 45 hit corner combo. It’s all in good fun with this mode as you take part in more toned down survival mode compared to Grim of Abyss but still, comes with its challenges along the way. You can choose between three courses, all of which you can customize to pick which character you want to fight first. From there the option to choose from normal, hard and very hard is available and then it’s off to battle to see how much of a high score you can pull off. Nothing more from this mode aside from that.
Speed Star Mode
Speed Star Mode is where you’ll need to put your speed to the test and see how far you can go before the clock runs out, or if you die. It’s yet another casual mode where players who aren’t too serious about their rank points can just sit back and mash away to get a laugh or two. Unlike the other two modes where your health can deplete if you take hits from the CPU, Speed Star mode allows you to retain your full health but you must defeat a set number of opponents before the timer reaches zero.
You can choose from three courses, all of which come with their own hurdles and allows you to switch the character lineup around so you can battle against specific characters you want to fight against. You’ll also run into bonus matches from time to time where a random opponent will jump into the fray and challenge you, and can receive time bonuses by performing specific actions such as entering active flow. The mode encourages you to take advantage of the diverse combo system and make good use of your character since the requirements state that you need to use special attacks to take life away from the CPU. Doing more combos restores your life bar and takes a chunk off of the CPU’s.
Online Mode | Ranked | Player | Lobby
This is where much of the action will take place because let's be real for a moment, fighting games are meant to be played online against other players to prove just how strong you are on the battlefield. Casual players never fear because even though you’ll be fighting against another human, you don’t have to fret too much since there are online modes that allow you to have the same kind of fun as you would offline. Ranked mode is more for those who truly want to leave a mark on the online world as the best player with their selected character, and is where a lot of players go after grinding out for hours in the lobby.
Player mode is just like ranked mode but this time you don’t have anything to lose as far as points, so you can play to your heart’s content and not feel overwhelmed with feelings of “Oh no, I can’t lose my points to this player!” We’ve all been there before so your feelings are understood quite well. It allows you to take a lot of weight off your shoulders, and practice your combos freely without subconsciously stressing yourself.
Lobby mode is the true bread and butter of online play because it allows you to either create a lobby or hop into an already made one, and face off against a multitude of opponents while being able to spectate as you wait your turn. It’s the true fighting gamer’s experience because you not only get a chance to play and show off what you’ve been working on in the lab but now you get to take notes on your opponents as you observe their patterns and see what habits they have. It’s a lot like going to the arcade and dropping your quarter down, waiting patiently for your turn as you watch your opponent sit at the cabinet mashing away furiously to get the win. Only this time there’s no money to be spent, you can play in your boxers while sitting comfortably in your chair for hours on end and nobody to bother you.
Honey’s Gameplay Consensus
Overall BlazBlue Central Fiction has everything you need to keep you busy for hours not only on the casual side but also the more competitive spectrum. A lot of things have been polished to look much cleaner in terms of graphics, while gameplay felt a lot more seamless when compared to past iterations. One thing that we did notice however was that during the story mode, often times the music would overpower the voicing which made it hard at times to understand what was said. Of course, with subtitles, it made it easier, but being able to hear the voice along with the subtitles consistently would’ve been better. We didn’t really find any of the modes any more challenging than they should be which is an added plus because the game should be enjoyed by just about any type of player regardless of their preference.
Spectacular online mode with various other options such as forums, etc.
Stunning graphics as usual.
Pretty good story mode that can be enjoyed by anyone.
Caters to both the casual and competitive audience very well.
Fantastic training mode as always.
Endless replay value
A great diversity of characters new and old.
The voicing felt lower than the music so it made things difficult to understand at first.
Online Forum felt flat and not really interesting.
Perhaps the steep learning curve of some characters may be off-putting.
Honey's Final Verdict:
In spite of the steep learning curve that comes with the game, BlazBlue Central Fiction ensures players that they’re well taken care of and that whatever issues they have about their performance, the training room is there to help restore their confidence. With a plethora of gameplay modes to choose from, the game is sure to keep many of you tapping buttons for hours on end, and the online mode is where you’ll find plenty of action when things get a little boring in single play. Along with extra DLC to look forward to, Central Fiction covers all the areas very well and promises fans that the franchise will always bring the best 100%.
As always for all things sweet, with all the buzzing news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!