Reviewed: October 22, 2007
Released: October 9, 2007
Treasure Co. Ltd has been making games since 1993 with the release of their masterpiece game, Gunstar Heroes. Treasure is also well known for their flashy boss fights in most of their games. North American manga fans got there first look at Bleach only a short while ago. It is now one of the top selling manga (or comics to us Americans) in the United States.
Bleach has spawned several games but sadly only two titles have graced American soil. The first is Bleach: Shattered Blade for the Nintendo Wii and the second and also the game that I am reviewing here is Bleach: The Blade of Fate for the Nintendo DS.
Bleach: The Blade of Fate follows the Soul Society story arc from the TV show airing in the United States right now. Now I have followed the TV show from the beginning and I like it. Bleach: The Blade of Fate is a 2D fighter set mainly in the Soul Society from the show. You start out playing as Ichigo Kurasaki, the main protagonist, who is attempting to rescue Rukia, from the Soul Society where she is being held until she is executed. But you’re not alone; you have Orihime, Chad and Uryu to help you.
As mentioned above, Bleach is a 2D fighter. I have played several fighters like Street Fighter, Darkstalkers and Mortal Kombat over the years. I mean who hasn’t. These are the games that most of us have grown up with and video game companies find new ways to keep these staples alive even today. My favorite fighters are the Street Fighter Series and The Darkstalkers series.
The interface in Bleach: The Blade of Fate is pretty much the standard fare seen in almost all fighters. The top screen is your main display and where the action is. The Heads-Up-Display or HUD is pretty easy to pick up on. You have your traditional health bar (or Soul Bar) at the top left of your screen as well as the Spirit Pressure Gauge, and Spiritual Pressure Stock box. Now unless you’ve actually watched an episode, or never missed one like me, you’ve probably going “Spiritual what?” Well it’s really quite simple.
Your Spiritual Pressure Gauge fills up much like the Special bar in other fighters when you inflict damage or take it in battle. Once the bar fills your Spiritual Pressure Stock goes up by one. You may have up to 3 Spiritual Pressure stock at anytime in the battle and the number decreased when you pull off a Super Attack or Cancel Damage Attack.
The bar located in the bottom left of the screen is the Spiritual Power Gauge, and it probably the single most important aspect of the game. The bar is made up of 3 sections and every time you pull of a Flash Step, Line Jump or RF Special Attack the bar decreases by one section. Consider the Spiritual Power Gauge as your stamina, no stamina, no special attacks. So you must use your Specials wisely. Bleach: the Blade of Fate is not just another “button-masher.”
The bottom screen is used as your support system of sorts. As you know Bleach is a fighter, and like most fighters you have to press a series of buttons to pull a special attack. Now as I mentioned above, I’ve played several fighters in my time, but most of the time I was guilty of being a button-masher. I usually couldn’t pull of the special attacks to save my life. I know I’m not alone either when it comes to fighters and trying to pull off those specials. I’ve improved but I’m still leagues away from some people I know. Some people are naturals and then there are people like me.
I think Treasure took that to heart when they created Bleach: The Blade of Fate. You have the option to execute the Special and Super Attacks the old fashioned way or by using when “hot keys” on the touch screen. I really loved this feature. Now the next feature that is something that I think was a nice touch to Bleach. If it had been in any other games I would have thought it to be ridiculous, but not in Bleach. Bleach uses Spirit Cards to aid you in your battles.
You may have up to 8 cards in your Spirit Deck at any given time. The Cards vary from Recovery cards that help regain Soul and Spiritual Pressure, to Action which prohibits your opponents for performing Specials or Supers. You gain access to about 100 spirit card over the course of your experience. Each card shows which character originally used that card, what it does and how powerful it is on a scale of 1-4. Most cards are won in battle or bought in the Urahara Shop.
One of my favorite things about Bleach: The Blade of Fate is the sheer amount of things to do. Bleach mainly concentrates on the storyline of trying to rescue Rukia, but it does it in a series of Episode. There are 23 total episodes; each one usually dedicated to a character in the series. So not only do you play as Ichigo and his friends but also the Soul Societies’ Soul Reapers.
Also since Blade of Fate is broken up in episodes, there are not readily available, right off the bat. You have to work to unlock all of the episodes. You have to play Ichigo’s storyline before you have access to the other characters’ storylines. You complete certain character’s storyline then others are unlocked and so on and so forth.
All the storylines in Bleach: The Blade of Fate intertwines with each other so you will fight battle you did previously with another character. Some find this unnecessary, but I have to disagree. You can’t have a fight with one character on a storyline but not that opponents storyline. For example, Ichigo fights every Captain in the game so it wouldn’t be right if say Captain Zaraki doesn’t fight him in Zaraki’s storyline. Also once you beat the first 22 episode you gain access to the special 23rd episode.
Besides the Story Mode there are 6 other modes not even including the Deck Construction option. Bleach: The Blade of Fate features an Arcade Mode, Versus Mode, Training Mode, Challenge Mode, Time Attack Mode and Survival Mode.
Now most of these are self explanatory, as you see them in fighters all the time. The one that I will go into greater detail on is the Versus Mode. There are 4 modes to play and up to 4 characters can be used in each. You can play VS CPU (self explanatory), DS Wireless Connection, DS Download Play and Nintendo Wi-Fi. The DS Wireless Connection can be played with a Single card or Multi-Card, both modes supporting up to 4 players.
And last but not least there is the Nintendo Wi-Fi mode. In this mode you can play people all over the country through a wireless internet connection. There are three modes available: Nat’l Bout, Friend Bout and SS Rank Bout. The Nat’l Bout is where you are pitted up against 3 random people and duel to the death. The Friend Bout is for users in your Friend Roster and you fight with or against each other. The SS Rank Bout is one-on-one fight against players of the same rank. Your rank starts at 10 and increases or decreases depending on the battle results.
Now onto a topic I briefly mentioned above, the Deck Construction option. The Deck Construction option allows you to create custom card decks or use Character Set Decks. There is a prefab deck for every character in the game. You have up to 5 card deck slots that you can tailor anyway you see fit. Say you have a decent deck to start with, but you don’t like a couple of the cards. Well go in the Deck Construction and take them out and replace them with something you will use. I was rather surprised to see this feature and I’m glad they added it.
The graphics of Bleach: The Blade of Fate are pretty decent for a DS game. Again it isn’t the best looking game but it’s still pretty damn good. I mean every time I pull a flash step and attack from behind I grin. I noticed that if the character you play or fight is using a sword, like Ichigo and Shunsui, the attacks are all green, where melee characters like Yoruichi and Soi Fon are yellow.
Perhaps, one of the coolest graphical things about Bleach is the Super Attacks known as Bankai. Every time you activate these attacks the upper screen fades white and beautiful image based sequences play out. I saw Ichigo’s Bankai for the first time and all I could say was “Bad Ass.”
The other cool graphical thing about Bleach was not in the fighting aspect at all. By fighting in the game you unlock goodies that can be viewed or heard in the Gallery menu. You also can purchase goodies by paying for them with the money you earn from all the modes available.
One of the first things that really drew me into Bleach: The Blade of Fate was its opening music. The theme song, “Ichirin No Hana” with voice started playing and I feel in love. Renditions of the theme song can be heard at the end of Ichigo’s storyline and a few other times as well. Since Bleach: The Blade of Fate is based on the anime I didn’t expect the score to be bad, and I was right.
At the end of every episode and End Song was played, much like you here at the end of anime show episodes. The battle music used in Bleach: The Blade of Fate was a bit different that most typical fighters. A lot of fighters like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat have that gritty very real sounding backgrounds music. Bleach has more of the upbeat anime feel to it.
The voice acting used in Bleach: The Blade of Fate was used for fighting and menus only. There is such a big cast in Bleach: The Blade of Fate that I found it had to pick out any significant voice actors. A lot of the voice actors have done work in some of my favorite games and animes, but only one stood out to me. Johnny Yong Bosch, the voice of Vash in Trigun, does Ichigo in Bleach. The little catch phrases the characters say at the beginning of battles are cool and I still can’t get one particular phrase of Ichigo’s out of my head.
Due to the sheer amount of things to do in Bleach: The Blade of Fate, you will be playing this one for a while. There is also the fact that Bleach has such a big following right now that there wasn’t a time where I couldn’t find people to fight against using the Nintendo Wi-Fi. I took me quite awhile to beat all the episodes, so bleach is no push over. Bleach; The Blade of Fate retails for around $30 dollars and it is $30 well spent. Actually I have to say this is the BEST fighter for the Nintendo DS of all time.
All in all, Bleach: The Blade of Fate is a well rounded game. It had the “hot key” feature that I love for those of us how fail miserably at those button combos. Being able to play all the characters in the Soul Society arc was definitely a big plus. I would have liked to have seen better graphics, but on the same not they were still pretty good. The game isn’t a perfect 10 but its close. I definitely recommend that you pick up Bleach: The Blade of Fate as soon as you can. If you're a die-hard fan or you just want a good fighter, then look no further.