It’s tough to remember all the announcements made at Evo this year from memory, thanks to the sheer volume of them. While the final day of the biggest fighting game tournament of the year usually contains a series of them, it felt like nearly every fighting game developer wanted to be part of the festivities this year. You know it was special when I dedicated a long post to them, something I didn’t do in previous years. There were too many, but that’s why it’s nice to have a post summing everything up.
One of the most memorable among that group was Blazblue Cross Tag Battle from Arc System Works, another tag-focused game coming from the developer alongside Dragon Ball FighterZ. Blazblue producer Toshimichi Mori previously expressed interest in making a new Blazblue installment with tag battles, though despite its name, that’s not quite what this is.
The game will feature characters from four franchises: Blazblue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth, and RWBY. Essentially, it’s a crossover that will allow for the Blazblue development team to cut loose with possibilities and mechanics. That they’ll be able to use several sprites from multiple games they’ve previously developed or published (the UNI games are developed by Ecole Software and French Bread) should give them more time to focus on the mechanics. Most of the new sprites will be made for characters from RWBY, an American series made in the style of an anime that’s new to Arc, though Mori previously expressed interest in making an adaptation.
Several details were revealed in an interview with Mori in this week’s Famitsu magazine. The game was revealed at Evo because Arc System Works is aiming this towards overseas markets rather than Japan. It didn’t appear that was the case when it was first shown, as though Persona and RWBY are popular in western territories among small, dedicated audiences, the same can’t be said for Blazblue and especially Under Night In-Birth. But his comment could be referring to the style of game, as the western fighting game audience enjoys tag-battle titles, as shown through the Marvel vs. Capcom games. This game also won’t receive an arcade release due to their focus, and the controls will be friendly for those who play on pads, those who don’t invest in expensive fight sticks to replicate the arcade experience.
It will also have a unique story mode that answers why the universes from these four franchises have crossed over, similar to other fighters of this type. Given the name attached to the title, expect its presentation to be like story modes from the Blazblue games. Those games rely on hand-drawn portraits for dialogue scenes, and include the occasional anime cutscene for more significant story developments.
Unfortunately, no characters have been revealed since Evo. Thus far, we know Ragna and Jin from Blazblue will be included, along with Yu Narukami, Hyde, and Ruby Rose from Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth, and RWBY, respectively. (And here people thought Yu and Persona 4 would be put on the backburner with Persona 5 now available.) Arc said most of the roster choices have already been made, but the game was announced early because they want to hear suggestions from fans regarding other characters they’d like to see from the four franchises. But just those franchises, so don’t expect to see anyone from, say, Guilty Gear.
Since all the characters are coming from different games with alternating art styles, some sprites are being slightly reworked to prevent this from looking like a “Mugen” fan game, especially Under Night In-Birth’s. Some clashing will be unavoidable, but they’re putting more effort into this than, for example, Capcom with Capcom Fighting Evolution.
The voice acting choices that will be available in the final game are also currently a mystery. Every character in the trailer speaks Japanese outside Ruby, who’s using her English voice thanks to her origin. Recent Arc System Works games haven’t received dubs, so there’s a chance the mismatched voices could be left for the final version. But if this game is really being aimed towards overseas markets, it would make sense for every character to have Japanese and English options. Otherwise, the story mode will make for an…interesting time, unless they work how characters are speaking different languages into the plot.
Blazblue Cross Tag Battle is planned for a release sometime next year. Mori is hoping this will be the start of a new franchise, though acknowledged that the main Blazblue franchise’s story isn’t over. If they make the switch from sprites to 3D models similar to Guilty Gear Xrd’s with the Blazblue series, perhaps the next tag game could use them.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; we should wait and see how his game turns out first. We’ll find out next year.