Thanks to ARC SYSTEM WORKS for the review code
Title: Blazblue: Central Fiction Special Edition
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 02/07/2019
In this updated version of Blazblue Central Fiction, all the DLC is bundled with the game and available from the start, with little else unchanged. That also means the story remains the same for better or for worse…
Back on the 3DS, Blazblue Continuum Shift II ended up being my first experience with the series due to how intriguing the presentation was, all thanks to excellent sprite art and magnificent music. Thankfully, Central Fiction continues that stellar trend by continuing to use gorgeous sprites and adding in several new music tracks along with a huge chunk of the best ones from prior games. (unlockable from an in-game store) I do feel that a few of the new remixes don’t feel nearly as good as the originals, but luckily those originals are all unlockable as battle tracks if you prefer to use those versions instead.
The high quality of the OST doesn’t just apply to battle tracks, either, as the story mode still sports the same emotionally moving selection of songs used in every prior game to date, along with a few new ones that fit in just as well as the classic themes that built this story up for a decade now.
However, this game still commits a big, BIG sin that’s still baffling to see years after the original version on PS4 came out, and that comes from the total lack of an english dub for the story mode. Yes, this was a thing back in the PS4 original, and the reasoning for that was to get the game translated and out right after the Japanese launch for the sake of having it prepared for the following EVO, which is still silly, but somewhat understandable.
Regardless, considering how Blazblue Cross Tag Battle was fully dubbed last year, and how the game has been out long enough that a dub could have been worked on for a future port like this one, I was really hopeful that they would really consider dubbing this game and finally giving this game the high quality dub which the other four games got. The fact that the story mode is *still* not dubbed, despite how it would be a great selling point for this particular version of the game, is just really disappointing, considering how there also even any new story content added to speak of, unlike the other enhanced ports of Blazblue titles.
The Japanese voice actors still do a great job, yes, and the story is still presented just as great as it always has been, but considering how the english cast gave great performances building up to this climatic finale in the other games, the fact they never got their chance to finish the story and still aren’t able to do so just feels like a slap in the face, and puts a small damper on the presentation when it comes to this mode since it didn’t feel nearly as enjoyable.
Blazblue Central Fiction plays a lot like the other Blazblue games, improving the combat from Chronophantasma and adding several new characters to the mix for a well-balanced fighting game. There’s even two control schemes available, too, with Technical acting like a typical fighter where you combine motions and one of the four main attack buttons (assigned A-D and are mapped Y, X, A and B respectively) to perform special moves, while also being able to perform devastating Distortion attacks if your Heat Gauge is filled up by half, along with a game-ending Astral Finish if the meter completely fills out. Stylish ditches most of this for simple button mashing that can lead to combos being performed automatically, which comes in handy for newcomers wanting to get a feel for the game without having to memorize combos.
Nevertheless, Central Fiction on PS4 had three DLC characters along with an unlockable character from the game’s story mode, and all four of those bonus characters are available to play right off the bat in this version of the game. That even includes the legendary cat hero Jubei, who was paid DLC in all other versions of the game, including the Steam version which also had the other DlC built in. I felt that Mai and Jubei were the best of the DLC characters, with Mai having a lot of fun melee moves to tinker around with while Jubei uses a parry-based attack style that has a lot of payoff. Alongside the DLC characters, all the extra colors, announcer options, and custom room items that were for sale in the PS4 version of the game are all included here as well, so this is certainly the best value if you’re jumping into this particular entry for the first time, or never got around to buying the DLC on other platforms.
DLC value aside, the game also has a good variety of modes, although it should be noted that unlike Continuum Shift II/Extend or Chronophantasma Extend, there aren’t any new game modes in this version of the game. That means that sadly, the awesome Legion mode from the original Continuum Shift is still absent, and there still isn’t an in-game sound test for the game’s awesome soundtrack, a baffling exclusion considering how several other games in the franchise had the feature. Everything you could play on PS4 is available here as well, save for a strange change in how online matchups work.
You see, in both Chronophantasma and Central Fiction on PS4, the online ranked matches would put you in this virtual arcade where you could walk around with a chibi version of your character and engage people in the arcade to start a match. and neither of these features are in this version of the game, instead being replaced with a much simpler matchmaking system where you just sign up for a ranked match and wait around the menus for someone else to challenge you.
Oddly enough, Player Matches do allow you to set up a lobby in your customizable room, where you can decorate it with all the furniture you’ve gained from randomized item boxes (replacing the capsule machines from the Arcade Lobby) purchased with the in-game currency. It’s a strange change for sure, but I honestly prefer the simplicity of this matchmaking more than what was on offer in the PS4 version, even if it’s harder to set matches up with a friend this way. (You now have to make a specific keyword and ask a friend to search for that keyword)
The online itself is pretty decent, as I was able to have some silky smooth matches against Japanese players with only a bit of lag during the intro animations. There’s an online leaderboard for the rankings, and fighting players this way is the easiest way to get more in-game currency due to how painfully slow it is to grind out enough for the Gallery from single player modes, but it does work surprisingly well on Switch, despite the simplicity of the matchmaking. All those unlockable options for your D-Code do feel a bit pointless without being able to view the profiles of other players as easily as in the PS4 version, though.
Last but not least, the single player modes on offer. There’s the aforementioned Story Mode, which is a 5-10 hour journey through the final chapter of the Blazblue story, with unlockable substories taking up a few more hours if you choose to go through them. There’s also the Arcade mode, where you choose a character and face eight opponents in one of three acts of their individual stories to see how it unfolds for them, there’s the Score Attack and Speedstar modes, which task you with defeating a lot of opponents in succession for the highest ranking on the online leaderboards, and finally there’s the returning Abyss Mode, which throws some RPG mechanics into the mix.
With a lengthy tutorial and plenty of challenge missions to learn and master the trickiest of special moves and combos, there’s a lot of ways to learn a character and then challenge yourself with them. It’s just a shame than none of them outside of the story mode offer much in terms of depth, and that the grind to get more currency for the gallery becomes a really repetitive drag when playing offline, which is odd considering how other Blazblue titles didn’t act nearly as stingy with the in-game currency, making gallery content in those titles easier to unlock.
In conclusion, Blazblue Central Fiction: Special Edition isn’t really as “Special” as the title implies. It offers a great value for getting the DLC already released for the other versions, along with being a great fighter on the Switch, but it doesn’t really offer anything new outside of a few new costumes and a different matchmaking system. The fact that this version still didn’t give the Story Mode the much-requested dub it deserves, along with failing to fix some of the other minor gripes people had with Central Fiction, such as the grindy nature of gaining in game currency offline, or the lack of a sound test, this version just feels more or less like a barebones complete edition rather than an enhanced port that goes above and beyond to improve on gripes people had with the original to make it better than ever. This is still a really fun fighter, but if you already own all the DLC and the game on another platform, there’s really no need to buy this version, and if you’re a newcomer to the series, then your mileage may vary with this one depending on how much you like grinding out fights, jumping into a story during its final chapter or playing ranked matches.
I give Blazblue Central Fiction: Special Edition a 7 out of 10.