Bleach: Shattered Blade Review

What would you get if you made a game that has elements of Tekken, Bushido Blade, Street Fighter and Naruto all rolled into one? You’d end up with Bleach: Shattered Blade, a sword fighting game.

The new title is based upon the anime series Bleach. Ok, now before everybody rolls their eyes into the back of their heads and starts to say, “Oh no, another anime based Wiimote gimmicky game that isn’t even worth the box that it comes in,” you’d be wrong.

I have to admit, similar thoughts started to creep into my head when I first saw this game, but I tossed out these preconceptions along with taking out the garbage one night and started with a clean slate.

Now for a little background. Bleach is about a high school student named Ichigo Kurosaki who has the ability to see spirits from the netherworld. He acquires special powers and becomes a Soul Reaper, and fights demonic bad guys that try to trash everyone’s peaceful existence.

In Bleach Shattered Blade, the story continues as Ichigo tries to find the 13 shards of an all powerful blade to keep the gate to the living open. The shards, however, are also sought by those who just want the power to kick everyone’s ass, natch.

There are several modes of play: episode, arcade, versus, and training. In episode mode, you’re able to select one of three characters in the beginning stages. The story unfolds in a parallel way as each person goes through similar dealings as they finally face the boss fight. Each storyline shows the events from their particular point of view. As you finish each character’s story, you unlock new characters to use.

Arcade is basically fighting without the storyline, while versus lets you pound live opponents or selected computer AI fighters. While you can play against your pals, there is no online multiplayer. Training mode gives you some short lessons on the art of slicing and dicing.

For those of you who played Red Steel, you know how awful the blade interface was. You waved your Wiimote and about a second later, the action would translate onto the screen. In BSB, there is none of this lag. Your blade attacks are executed through slashing, hacking and stabbing moves. Pushing the A or B buttons modify your attacks while the nunchuck is used for moving your character around, defending and charging up your “bankai” meter. When this is full, you can do special attacks.

The biggest issue with this game is that it can easily be underestimated. If you just wave your “sword” with abandon, you’re going to have some success in winning your fights. But if that’s all you do, you’ll be bored in no time. Any fighter can basically be played by this hit or miss technique, but in order to really get some fun out of BSB, you’re going to have to work at it by learning the moves that are available to you.

The whole idea has to do with varying your attacks by stringing different moves together in combos. You can just repeat single attacks over and over (yawn), but it will just lead to a lot of frustration as the enemy bashes your head in. When I first picked up the game, I did what everybody would have done-I waved my Wiimote furiously and managed to win a couple of rounds. But as the opponents got tougher, this method soon proved to be unproductive.

There are overhand slash moves, lunge moves, roundhouse moves, acrobatic back flips and powerful Bankai attacks at your disposal. When you gain enough energy to release a Bankai move, you’re treated with a nifty animation sequence, Final Fantasy guardian style. They happen each time you pull off one of these attacks, and some will complain about this, but if you’re really good you won’t have to resort to the Bankai abilities that often anyway, so there.

I found the sword battles fun. Once you get the feel of the game, it can be pretty rewarding. The opponents you face have their particular powers and fighting styles. Some will fling energy arrows at you while the tried and true energy orbs can be used to throw your enemies off balance by lobbing a few in their direction. When you’re in close-up battle and you and your adversary strike critical blows at the same time, you’ll enter into a duel mode.

A new screen appears and the game’s version of rock, paper, and scissors starts. But in this case, the moves are chop, slash and stab. Chop beats slash, slash beats stab, stab beats chop and so on. There are a series of battles and the victor is the one who accumulates the most winning matches. At the end of the face-off, the winner of the match unleashes a damaging attack on the loser of the duel.

But the gameplay does have its flaws and this, no doubt, is due to the game being rushed out before it was completely finished. If you’re even half paying attention to what you’re doing in the game, you’ll be able to figure out the AI’s weakness. Although there are the game options of easy, normal and hard, I was able to defeat virtually any character I faced even on the hardest setting by exploiting this flaw. If the game had another few months of development and testing, it would have been a much better game. So to really enjoy the game, I had to refrain from using this knowledge…most of the time. (Sorry, I’m not going to spill the beans on what the AI fault is. However, I’m not above taking a few bribes…)

Are you an achievement fanatic? Do you love to unlock things in games? If your answer is “yes” to either of these questions, you’ll be in unlocking heaven. BSB is filled to the brim with unlockables. As you play through the arcade and episode modes, you’ll be rewarded with “kan.” You can trade kan in at Urahara’s shop for 3D character models, tunes, costumes, art from the game and different character voice playbacks such as, “You and me are both unlucky! You bastard!” in an over the top fashion. I played that one a couple of dozen times.

The graphics for this game aren’t bad for a mid-gen gaming machine such as the Wii. The artwork follows the style of the anime show and it’s fun to see all the various cutscenes when each character goes into their Bankai powers. Some of the voice acting is good, and some of it is unintentionally funny. But followers of the anime show should be happy as they’ll recognize a lot of the voices in the game.

Bleach Shattered Blade is a game with lots of potential. It’s fun and can be quickly picked up for some fast fighting action. It isn’t anywhere near the league of hardcore fighters such as Tekken, Soulcalibur or the others, but BSB seems to be a hybrid where anyone — regardless of their level of gaming experience — can join in for some blade swinging goodness. The AI is a problem in the game, however, and this takes some of the polish off of this title.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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