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elvis
4th December 2008, 04:23 PM
Name: Bleach: The Blade of Fate

Alternate name: Bleach DS Soten ni Kakeru Unmei

Platform: Nintendo DS

Developer: Treasure (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_(company))

Publisher: Sega

Australian Release Date: 29 Feb, 2008

Links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleach:_The_Blade_of_Fate
http://bleach.sega.jp/nds/index.html
http://hg101.classicgaming.gamespy.com/yuyubleach/yuyubleach.htm
http://www.shoryuken.com/wiki/index.php/Bleach_DS:_Souten_ni_Kakeru_Unmei

YouTube:
YouTube - Bleach DS : Ichimaru vs. Ichigo

Short Review:
Do you like any of the following games: Guilty Gear, XMen vs Street Fighter, Marvel vs Capcom? Then buy this NOW.

Review:

Talk about the sleeper hit of the year! I didn't even know this game existed until a few weeks ago. A kind member of the Soryuken forums recommended it, and I'm glad I gave it a whirl.

At first I was cautious about this one. I don't follow the Bleach manga/comics that this game is based on, and of the few Bleach games I have played on other consoles (mostly PS2), they've all sucked.

However the first thing that struck me about this game was who makes it. For starters, Sega produce the game. But the bigger news is that Treasure develop the game. For those who don't know, Treasure are a small but unique and high quality development team (made up mostly of ex-Konami developers) in Japan. They developed the Sega ST-V/Saturn shooter "Radiant Silvergun" and the Sega NAOMI/Dreamcast shooter "Ikaruga". They co-developed Gradius V with Konami, and worked with Sega on the MegaDrive classic run-and-gun "Gunstar Heroes". This is a company that rarely (if ever) produces crap, and of the games they do produce, they are always highly complex titles.

Konami (where many of the Treasure devs came from) have had their fair share of (admittedly ordinary) fighters, but Treasure themselves are also responsible for Yu Yu Hokusho - another manga franchise comic that turned into a fighting game on Megadrive (long before the "Guilty Gear" series appeared, but apparently showing some signs of heading in that direction).

So with all that in the back of my mind, I fired up Bleach: The Blade of Fate on my NDS (not known for it's fighting games) with some hesitation.

Within minutes my fears were gone. This game is superb. Borrowing heavily from the game mechanics of Guilty Gear, this is a testament to Treasure's typical development style: easy to pick up, tough to master. It won't punish new players, but even the hardcore fighting game crowd will get a huge buzz out of this.

All six DS buttons are used:
Y: Light Attack
X: Medium Attack
A: Heavy Attach
B: "Shunpo" (a move cancel button, similar to "Dust" in Guilty Gear)
L: Line Jump (dodge into background)
R: Block (can also be done by holding back, but this can force a block anywhere, including in the air).

Along with those, the lower touch-screen has "cards" that you can collect and earn. Using these gives you temporary boosts in power/defense, or can disable your opponent from using things like Line Jump to dodge your projectiles.

Anyone who's played Guilty Gear will understand the Shunpo ("Dust") move. For those who aren't familiar: you can cancel out of standard moves/combos by pushing this button, allowing you to continue combos that would normally stop. For example, normally you can jump in the air and attack your opponent with a heavy strike just once. With Shunpo, you can cancel the first heavy attack into a second, and so on. Use of Shunpo is limited by a bar down the bottom right (much like a "super" bar) that grows as you attack your opponent or take damage.

You can also do various commands into Shunpo (half circle forwards + B) to do a teleport/dash style move which will go through projectiles, or warp you behind an opponent for positional advantage, or a quick escape.

The game has it's standard fare of special moves ("fireball" and "dragon punch" style moves abound), as well as multi hit Super Specials, and a mode where you temporarily upgrade into some sort of super warrior who does massive damage for a very short amount of time (I haven't explored that one fully yet).

In Guilty Gear and XMen vs Street Fighter / Marvel vs Capcom fashion, there are also "launcher" moves that will knock your opponent up into the air, allowing you to follow and continue your combo into the air for an extra bit of arse kicking.

The game supports wireless vs play, and online WiFi battles (play anyone anywhere in the world). While serious fighting game fans may struggle a little with the small game pad (as opposed to arcade joysticks, which make these games far easier), the online play makes the game outlast the one-player mode by a country mile).

I forgot to mention... wireless mode supports tradition 1-on-1 two-player fighting, or a 4-player mode for total chaos!

There are a tonne of characters in the game who are extremely varied. Most are Samurai types who carry swords or weapons, but some are brawlers who just prefer the fisty-cuffs. There's even an archer whose whole play style is totally different due to the long-range nature of their attacks.

The EU/US version is fully localised, with all-English menus and voices. From what I understand the comic went on to make a TV series which also saw a US release, and the same American voice actors do the voices in the game.

As far as fighting games go (and despite the gamepad-only play), this is a whole lot of fun. There's a sequel game out now, but I haven't had a chance to play it. Apparently it's equally as good, expanding on the character roster, cards, and range of moves.

The wireless versus play (both against a mate, or online) makes this game even more fun. If you're a DS owner and in need of some biffo on the run, this is a superb option to go with.

elvis
4th December 2008, 07:44 PM
I was pressed for time and had to wrap the review up short.

On thing I wanted to mention was the comprehensive training mode included with the game. It gives some very good examples and instructions on how to do some of the more advanced moves and combos in the game, in particular using the Shunpo (cancel) button to do standard move chains, as well as chaining normals into supers.

This is something that is often overlooked in fighting games, particularly on home console where it's just assumed that players are all arcade hardcores playing at home, rather than people discovering the games for the first time.

AskJacob
4th December 2008, 09:42 PM
Very nice write-up Elvis.

The DS sure is not known as much of a fighter platform - thank goodness they didn't make you need to pull out the stylus mid battle....

I'm not a fighter player, but it looks like a bit of fun to me...

Cheers
Jacob

elvis
4th December 2008, 09:59 PM
thank goodness they didn't make you need to pull out the stylus mid battle....
Heck yeah!

The cards you use to power yourself up or hold the opponent back are initiated by the touch screen, but they're huge and chunky, and can be hit via either thumb even in the heat of the battle.