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DS

North America

Bleach: The Blade of Fate

by Karl Castaneda - October 30, 2007, 3:48 pm PDT
Total comments: 3

8.5

Don’t let the anime license fool you; this is a surprisingly competent fighting game.

For those of you unfamiliar with Bleach, here’s the crash course: Ichigo Kurasaki, a 15-year old high school student, can see and interact with spirits. This gift brings him together with Rukia Kuchiki, a soul reaper (agents of the Spirit World who guide the recently departed into the afterlife, as well as assassins who eliminate evil soul-devouring creatures called hollows), and needless to say, here begins an action-packed adventure. The Blade of Fate, the series’ first outing on the DS, covers the arc dealing with Rukia’s unjust imprisonment by her soul reaper superiors, and Ichigo’s quest to save her and clear her name.

Naturally, since Bleach has a healthy amount of swordplay and various other degrees of combat, this is a fighting game. What makes it a bit more special than your average licensed product is that it’s developed by Treasure, the company famous for games like Gunstar Heroes, Sin & Punishment, and Ikaruga. Blade of Fate’s break-neck speed and twitch controls definitely hearken back to those releases, even if there isn’t quite as much depth.

The Story Mode starts out with Ichigo, though you’ll eventually unlock over a dozen other characters and complete the game through their plotlines, essentially battling your way through the tier tree with portrait-laden cut-scenes coming before and after each bout. Though you’ll still find the usual genre fare here (combo-initiated specials, throws, dashes, etc), each character also has an ultimate attack, which can range from being briefly invincible to a massive beam of energy.

The game takes advantage of the DS’s touch screen via the use of cards that act as status enhancers during battle. Though limited to eight cards per fight, with only two available at a certain time, you can do anything from restricting your opponent from jumping to boosting your Soul Meter (normally filled by landing attacks and needed to use the aforementioned ultimate attack). You’ll get new cards by winning fights and by buying them at Urahara’s Shop.

While these cards definitely put a fresh spin on fights, it is a little cumbersome to reach over from the face buttons to the touch screen; since things happen so quickly, having your thumb on the touch screen disallows you from reacting without a moment’s notice. It definitely isn’t a huge flaw, but it can be a bit annoying at times.

Once you feel you’re ready to take on your friends, the game offers a host of multiplayer options. Three of your friends can hop in via single-card multiplayer in addition the regular local play. Blade of Fate also takes advantage of Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, where different online options include playing without cards, ranked, and unranked matches. Finding enough players for a four-person bout wasn’t exactly easy, but if you’ve got some patience, you can put one together in time.

When it comes to games with an anime license, this is definitely in the upper echelon. Though it doesn’t do too much to separate itself from other 2D fighters out there, it’s an overall very solid package that’ll satisfy series fans and fighting enthusiasts alike.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8.5 6 8 8.5 8 8.5
Graphics
8.5

Sharp 2D sprites and vibrant backgrounds definitely make The Blade of Fate a pretty game to look at.

Sound
6

The occasional voice samples here and there serve up some cheesy one-liners, and the music won’t really grab you. There’s not a whole lot of reason to keep the sound on.

Control
8

Though there’s some occasional fumbling when you’re using the status cards, the game still controls with break-neck response and surprising intuitiveness.

Gameplay
8.5

Though it’s mostly standard as far as fighting systems work, what The Blade of Fate does, it does extremely well. Combat is intuitive and immersive enough to really suck you in.

Lastability
8

With a healthy Story Mode and numerous multiplayer options, you’ll be able to play this one for some time.

Final
8.5

This is the best game based on an anime that I’ve played since Naruto: Clash of Ninja 2 on GameCube. Seeing as how I’ve logged dozens of hours into that game, that is high praise, indeed. You’d do well to pick this one up.

Summary

Pros
  • Good selection of characters
  • Great multiplayer options
  • Lengthy story mode
Cons
  • The status enhancers can sometimes be a little unwieldy to use, since you need to reposition your thumb.
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

KDR_11kOctober 31, 2007

I like how the review helpfully fails to mention the whole combat system except that it has combos and supers (duh!).

I heard there are differences between the Japanese and English versions (other than the language), confirm/deny?

Karl Castaneda #2October 31, 2007

It's a very meat-and-potatoes fighter. Aside from the Soul Meter, ultimate attacks, and the status cards, there really isn't that much to say.

As for the difference between the English and Japanese, I didn't play the import, so I wouldn't be able to tell you.

KDR_11kNovember 02, 2007

How about mentioning that it's a fast indie-style fighter with freestyle comboing, flashstep cancels and lots of air combos? Sure that's kinda standard for indie-style fighters but I don't think many people who only know mainstream games consider that style generic. How about mentioning the power boosted special attacks when you input them with strong attack that eat from your pressure bar? There's a huge difference between, say, Guilty Gear and Tekken that all comes down to the main combat system, not the flashy extra moves. What deserves mention about the 300% supers is that some of them are interactive instead of just huge beam attacks or whatever like in other fighters, e.g. Ichigo in Bankai form has a limited moveset but is still under your control, that huge beast the bucket-head (forgot his name) can summon attacks according to the buttons you push and can perform some truly evil combos if used right.

Also the gameplay is single-round, the life bar is pretty long so that round takes about as long as the two-three rounds other fighters have and the game supports 4 players in the battle.

Challenge mode is also pretty interesting in that it acts like a tutorial for combos.

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Bleach: The Blade of Fate Box Art

Genre Fighting
Developer Treasure
Players1 - 4
Online1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Bleach: The Blade of Fate
Release Oct 09, 2007
PublisherSega
RatingTeen
jpn: Bleach DS: Souten ni Kakeru Unmei
Release Jan 26, 2006
PublisherSega
RatingAll Ages
eu: Bleach: The Blade of Fate
Release Feb 29, 2008
PublisherSega
Rating12+
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