Throughout the short history of the fighting game genre, there haven’t been many examples of developers with two tag battle games in the pipeline simultaneously.
In fact, there are only a few examples. During the time when they were still developing fighting games by the bulk, Capcom was promoting Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Capcom vs. SNK at the same time. In fairness, though, the Capcom vs. SNK games didn’t allow for tag battles per se, but had players fighting in teams. They were also promoting the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 titles and Street Fighter x Tekken simultaneously, though given how the latter turned out, perhaps they shouldn’t have been.
There’s also SNK Playmore, who did this with Neo Geo Battle Coliseum and The King of Fighters XI, and both games released in Japanese arcades within two months of each other in 2005. Tag battle games tend to have large casts, and can be rough to develop and balance unless both dev teams are big, or already have several resources from prior games to use.
Now, this means Arc System Works’ time as a serious fighter has finally come, as they have two upcoming examples: Dragon Ball FighterZ and Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle. Both have been regularly promoted since they were announced in mid-June and mid-July, respectively, though publisher Bandai Namco is handling the former while the latter is developed and published by them. They’re worth keeping an eye on if you enjoy tag battle fighting games, particularly if you were disappointed by another recent Capcom one. They also both had new characters revealed for them.
It’s an exciting time for Dragon Ball fans who also enjoy fighting games, since Dragon Ball FighterZ is the first serious DB fighting game effort in nearly a decade. The characters look great in Arc’s current graphics style, which features a unique blend of 2D and 3D and started with the Guilty Gear Xrd titles. Several characters have been revealed since the announcement, from expected characters like Goku and Vegeta to comparatively unexpected ones like Captain Ginyu and Yamcha. Now, we’re seeing three more.
First is Gotenks, pictured above. Anyone familiar with the series already knows this is a fusion of Goten and Trunks, and the first fused character to be revealed thus far. He appears here in his Super Saiyan 3 form at all times, and features a series of attacks that make him (or “them?”) one of the goofiest characters in FighterZ thus far — in a good way. But that also makes his animations some of the best, as both the Super Kamikaze Ghost Attack and his volleyball technique should be seen in video form.
Second is Kid Buu, the more infamous version of Buu with no remorse for his actions. Here, he’ll retain a significant number of his most powerful ki attacks from the series, and can stretch his limbs to reach the opponent better. He’ll have to be seen in motion to determine how different his move set is from Buu.
Finally, there’s adult Gohan, whose appearance was inevitable not solely because of his popularity (despite being generally screwed over after the Cell saga), but because there was a good reason why he was missing from the story trailers thus far. He’ll contain both Earthling and Saiyan traits in his move set to make him unique compared to Super Saiyan 2 Teen Gohan, and can unleash his Ultimate abilities mid-battle.
FighterZ will release on January 26th, a little over two months from now, so there should still be plenty of characters left to reveal in that time. Following that, they should start revealing the eight DLC characters that will be included with the $35 Season Pass.
Three characters were also revealed for Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle, though that’s less of a surprise here considering Arc has been revealing them three at a time.
The Persona 4 Arena characters are being revealed in a familiar order: Characters joined the party in the original Persona 4 game in this same order. Yu was revealed first, then Yosuke and Chie followed, so Yukiko was bound to be next. She relies on sharp paper fans for physical attacks and projectiles, while her Persona is also capable of using fire attacks.
Also revealed was Gordeau from the Under Night In-Birth games, a guy wearing a purple jacket and no shirt who uses a massive sickle. His sickle attacks were known for having ridiculous range in the UNIB titles, and though he’s only shown shortly in the new trailer, he doesn’t appear to have been toned down.
Last is Azrael, who debuted in the Blazblue series with ChronoPhantasma. His move set is focused on powerful strikes, to the point that his attack power is literally off the charts, though at the expense of his speed. That wasn’t enough of a hindrance to stop him from being one of the best characters in ChronoPhantasma before the patch, so it will be interesting to see how the team balances him here. He appears wearing a jacket like a cape with no shirt and wears pants with a chap only on the left leg. It’s very, uh, interesting that they revealed two guys who wouldn’t look out of place as male strippers alongside Yukiko. This is where Akihiko should have been revealed, assuming he’ll be included here.
Unlike previous character trailers, this one didn’t say when the next characters will be revealed, so it could be a while. This also implies that it won’t release until spring at the earliest, which is fine, because it would be strange if both these games were competing with each other.
It’s almost too good of a time to be a fighting game fan, given the time investment many of these games require. Both Arc titles will need a significant commitment considering tag battle games require learning move sets from two to three characters to even be competent at them. But they should be good fun with friends and in general, so it’s tough to complain. More information on these games will be provided soon — especially for FighterZ.