Bleach: The Blade of Fate
Good fighting games for the DS are as scarse as politically engaged hookers in Teheran. Luckily the arrival of Sega’s Bleach: The Blade of Fate finally changes that.
Finally is actually quite an understatement. Our Japanese friends got to check this one out already two years ago and one could get angry for less. That the game finally managed to get over here no doubt has something to do with the (apparent) growing popularity of the anime series that’s based on the manga comics.
But ok, Bleach is a 2D fighter and so everything stands or falls with the gameplay which in this case reminds a bit of a mix between Street Fighter 2 and Dragon Ball Z. During fights with (usually) one of more opponents you’ll really stress both the touchscreen as well as the buttons. The “standard” attacks – going from some quick, weak punches to slow but more powerful ones – are hidden below the X, Y and A-buttons. By means of combinations a la Street Fighter 2 you can activate special attacks, but you can also perform them with a simple touch of the bottom screen. Also the ultimate super attacks, of which every character has one or more, are controlled with the touchscreen.
This gives a large choice of offensive actions and this gets extended with a reasonably deep cards system. Each character has a number of Spirit Cards which you can throw into the battle to temporarily gain some addition power. Also there’s the possibility to customize and save some card decks, something that comes in handy especially in the (online) multiplayer. But more on that later.
The 28 playable characters make for a nicely balanced whole. The fighters are quite varied and pretty equal in power: fast but weak, slow but strong, long distance vs. close combat, … the game mechanics of such a fight game are respected. All this ends up in a quite amusing experience that will appeal to fans.
Also on audio and graphics the game doesn’t drop the ball. The graphics clearly look Asian and look tight while the same can be said about the music: electric guitars, piano tunes and cheesy beats thunder from the speakers. An absurd amount of noise that managed to charm me.
Of course a game like this really comes to justice when you can treat a nearby friend or oversea enemy on a shining katana in his chest. One cartridge is enough to get going with up to four players and also online you can have fun. I did experience too much lag over the internet which is too bad for a fight game. Luckily there’s plenty to do in the singleplayer and already only the story mode is good for about seven hours of fun eventhough it’s quite easy.
Honestly I’m not really into all the manga-nonsense and also the adventurous life of the rusty main character Ichigo Kurosaki can’t interest me one bit. What I do know is that the DS finally has a fight game it can be proud of; good visuals and sound, accessible but at the same time deep gameplay, a lot of content and a reasonable multiplayer. In short: food for anyone longing for a portable fight.