Editor’s Note: This game came out last year but we just had to include a review for it to go with this month’s appreciation for all things BLEACH. On a related note, SEGA has announced a sequel to The Blade of Fate called BLEACH: Dark Souls.
Platform: Nintendo DS
Published by: SEGA
Developed by: Treasure
Rating: T for Teen
MSRP: $29.95 on Release day (might be cheaper depending on where you look)
Review by: Edward Zacharias
As a fighting game enthusiast and a fan of the BLEACH series, it was exciting to find a brawler that had you controlling Ichigo and company on a handheld platform. Having been disappointed by some fighting games on the DS and surprised by others, I approached BLEACH: The Blade of Fate with caution. Would it be as disappointing as the DS version of Naruto: Path of the Ninja or would it be as decent as Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors? It turns out that The Blade of Fate is not only a great BLEACH game but it’s also one of the best fighting games on the DS.
The game’s main Story mode doesn’t follow the series from the very beginning but rather it concentrates on the anime and manga’s story arch involving Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki’s impending execution and Ichigo Kurosaki and his friends infiltrating the Soul Society. Having been sentenced to death by her fellow Soul Reapers for aiding Ichigo, Rukia finds herself in the Repentance Cell awaiting her execution. Meanwhile, Ichigo (along with classmates Chad, Orihime and Uryu) enter the Soul Society with the help of a mysterious talking black cat named Yoruichi (who is much more than just a cat, actually). The five set out rescue Rukia but it won’t be easy since their arrival has sparked a response from the members of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads. In order to save Rukia, Ichigo and his loyal companions must battles squad Lieutenants and their Captains.
If you’re a BLEACH fan (like us) then you’re in for a treat seeing as not only are there a great number of familiar characters present but so are all the memorable fights from the series as well. That means you will be battling Renji Abarai, Kenpachi and Rukia’s coldhearted brother Byakuya Kuchiki. You’ll even get to recreate Ichigo’s comical battle against Ganju (who uses his boar as a special attack). You can even take control of Chad, Uryu and perky Orihime in battle.
The good news is that each character in the game has is own unique ability and attack that is true to the character. If you need a powerhouse who packs quite a wallop, Chad is your man. Need a fighter who is fast on his feet and strikes quickly then Byakuya has you covered. Need to perform long-distance attacks the Uryu has his arrow attacks. Even Orihime contributes in battle with her somewhat effective powers and her ability to form a triangle-shaped shield. Other characters include the human form of Youichi as well as Captain Hitsugaya, Soifun and even that dastardly Aizen just to name a few of the extra characters.
Control-wise, the game is easy to pick up and easy to get into thanks to the solid control scheme. The game utilizes the touch screen to make use of Spirit Cards and Special Attacks. You are given a deck that contains cards with temporary power-up abilities. One card might make you faster while another will increase the damage you cause with your Zanpaku-to. As I mentioned above, every character has his or her own unique attack and Spirit Cards add the right effect to balance out your fighter’s abilities. Ichigo’s Flash Step (ability to quickly dodge) can be increased to compete with fast-moving foes. You can also perform combo attacks, which comes in use when you go up against two opponents at once.
The game’s graphics are easily one of the most colorful and detailed DS games around. You’ll instantly recognize characters during fights and it’s great to see that the cut scenes use Tite Kubo’s great artwork. The game looks so much like the anime during the cut scenes and the Spirit Cards have secondary characters printed on them. The game’s soundtrack is very limited but that’s understandable seeing as this is the Nintendo DS we’re talking about. Still, the game used some voice clips so the English dub actors make an appearance.
Aside from Story mode there’s also Arcade mode that should be familiar to most fighting game fans. It basically allows you to pick any character and pit them against a string of opponents in any environment. So you can play take control of Aizen if you like or come up with dream matches of your own. Have you ever wanted to know what would happen if Rukia and Byakuya fought to the death? Well, now you can. There’s also Challenge mode that sets a condition that allows you to get by just be stringing together enough combo attacks. You can also play against up to three friends (for a total of four on screen if you like) wirelessly or online with game’s Versus Mode (although you will find it hard to find a challenger online).
Surprisingly inventive and loads of fun, BLEACH: The Blade of Fate for the Nintendo DS is a brilliant BLEACH game and a seriously addictive fighting game. With very little in terms of flaws, it’s almost the perfect fighting game for portable gaming fans so you don’t really have to be a fan of the Shonen Jump anime or manga. If you are a fan – man oh man – you are in for a pleasant surprise.
Replay Value: Medium