Saturday, June 3, 2006

Bleach DS Souten ni Kakeru Unmei / Bleach: The Blade of Fate review

Bleach DS is Japanese only game, but that shouldn't stop you from importing it if you are a fan of either:

1. Shonen Jump mangas
2. Saturday morning animes
3. Fighting games.

Me? I am a fan of Treasure. And that is good enough reason for me.

Treasure, the legendary developers from Japan, can always be trusted to push a system through its 2D limit and with Bleach DS they succeeded brilliantly. The sprites are wonderfully detailed and the 2D background is beautifully drawn. Sprites zooms in and out effortlessly. Characters are well designed and some of their special weapons will fill up the entire screen.

Bleach DS is a sort of the bastard child of Street Fighter II, King of Fighters, Guilty Gear and Soul Calibur. It is faster than Street Fighter II of course and the brilliant sword playing style of Soul Calibur is present. Button mashing over all the face button and shoulder buttons is a must but you can also touch the lower screen to execute special attacks and combos.

Although the game is in Japanese, it is fairly easy to start playing. You will need an English FAQ guide if you want to progress through the single player mode (and understand the story) but most are self-explanatory and a little trial and error won't harm. Get into the game quickly with the Arcade Mode or play the VS mode for CPU 2 Vs 2 or 1 Vs 3 for more frantic action.

Bleach DS also supports LAN multiplayer ad-hoc WiFi (single-cart download & multi-cart play) and Nintendo WiFi connection. Setting up online matches is pretty straight forward and won't take you long to setup random matches with good Japanese gamers. The dreaded friend code is needed if you want to organise matches with your mates (up to four players).

It isn't without its fault. The two field system needs getting used to and the card system
(which you can use in battles to increase your advantage) isn't really necessary. Gameplay can become repetitive and apart from cards and characters, there isn't much to unlock. Weapon upgrades for Ichigo would have been nice but there is nothing here, unlock wise, that equals the depth of say Mario Kart DS.

While this is the first proper fighting game for the console, Treasure has set a superb standard in 2D fighting, that other developers will find hard to emulate. And to do that on their first DS title and even more impressive - their first (update, second after the Japan only Yuu Yuu Hakusho) fighting game (Guardian Heroes and its GBA follow up are beat 'em up)!

Forget the rather uninspired (but fun) Jump Super Stars! or the unfortunate Guilty Gear: Dust Strikers, import this instead and be prepared for hours of fun.


Update: After two years SEGA has finally released this in the west as Bleach: The Blade of Fate.


Anthony Stainer said...

I'm a big fan of Bleach, and after reading your review, decided to chance my complete lack of japanese ability and buy it. I wasn't disappointed; many thanks! ^_^

Jon said...

Glad you like it! :)

Anonymous said...

Yu Yu Hakusho was Treasure's first fighting game :)

Jon said...

You are right. Yuu Yuu Hakusho was Treasure's first fighting game. Apparently it is similar to Bleach DS. Too bad it is a Japan only release!

Thanks for the info. :)