takes place on an island near the southern mountains of Japan. A five hundred
year old dojo known as Meikyokan lies within this region, and teaches the
disciplines of the master Narukagami Shinto. A society of assassins known as
Kage also resides within the dojo. Once led by the honorable swordsman Utsusemi,
he lost his position to Hanzaki, another skilled member of the dojo, in a fierce
battle. Hanzaki gained respect as the Kage leader, until he discovered a cursed
sword known as Yugiri. He began to change, disregarding the groups honor and the
traditions held by its students.
One day, a Kage escapes the confines of the
dojo with its secrets. Several other members of the society, under penalty of
death, are sent to dispatch the defector, only catching up to him (or her)
within the ruins of the surrounding Yin and Yang Labyrinth Castle. The player
takes on the role of the escaped assassin, fighting his or her way out by
killing comrades one by one. The game story differs with each character
Select your weapon! ... (way
to be original, guys).
Blade introduced a fresh concept to the 3D
fighting game genre, offering a "realistic" approach to weapon based
combat. Square decided to completely do away with a staple of nearly all fighting
games - Life Bars. That means, with one good slash of a katana, a fight
could be won. This concept definitely brings along some unorthodox gameplay, but one can't argue that it makes
sense when considering we're dealing with samurai and live blades here.
Another original idea that Bushido Blade
introducedis the ability for all characters
to use all eight
weapons featured in the game. The selectable weapons include: katana, nodachi, long sword,
saber, naginata, rapier, broadsword, & sledgehammer. Each character also has
3 different stances (high, mid, and low) in which different attacks can be
thrown from. Furthermore, some attacks can only be done with specific character
and weapon combinations! ...Pretty cool. On the same token, many characters
do share the exact same moves & animations
There's a lot of flat snow
in this game.
One of Bushido Blade's most distinctive
elements is the game's incorporation of the Japanese honor code of Bushido.
During the story mode, players are encouraged to battle honorably by adhering to
certain rules within combat. Actions such as "attacking from behind" will
result in an
automatic game over (after some battles)... no cheap shots allowed!
Bushido Blade's gameplay also features free-running (360 degrees) around the 3D
environment... yes, environment. There are actually no "stages"
in Bushido Blade. Instead, combatants fight it out in a landscape
featuring various paths which open new areas. Basically, if you
don't feel like fighting your opponent
in your current location, you can always run away and fight somewhere else!
(It's pretty fun in 1-player mode).
The free-running element is quite entertaining for a while, and even adds quite
a bit of strategy to the game as well... those over-the-shoulder /
behind-the-back running slashes are damn effective (but are strongly against the
code of Bushido). Heh. The environments
are also interactive, with trees you can cut down, places to climb onto, etc.
You dare run from me
In addition to Bushido Blade's single player Story Mode, the contains a
2-Player Versus Mode, Practice Mode, and a pretty interesting
"First-Person VS Mode" which can be played with two players by using 2
included is a cool 1-player bonus mode called "Slash Mode," which pits the player against 100 enemies,
one after another. I personally enjoyed this mode just as much, if not more than
the main modes of the game.
For a 1996 PS1 fighting game, you can't really ask for much more. However, there
are some basic flaws I'd like to point out. The biggest flaw
of Bushido Blade would definitely be the graphics. The environments, though
generally "pretty" and immersive for the time, do appear very
in-game blood also looks more like pixilated fireworks, or confetti than it does blood.
There's a fair share of quirkiness to some of the animation, but other
animations are solid and actually present rather authentic Japanese
swordsmanship. The ouch factor also offers a variety of cool-looking death animations
with solid collision detection.
Another "flaw" worth mentioning - there are only 6 main characters to choose from, so the roster definitely feels a bit
lonely sometimes. On the bright side, there is one unlockable character
available in VS
mode, and 5 non-playable hidden characters than can be encountered in the main 1-player
mode. Two of these CPU-only characters present themselves
only if a player can complete the game and achieve the alternative ending. To do this, you
must select the appropriate character and also the following: (#1)
Do not take any damage, (#2) Reach the well before the fourth battle, and (#3)
do not break the Bushido Code. It's a but much to go through, but hey... I give
the designers credit for their attention to detail!
Bushido Blade was a cool, classy, and unique weapon-based fighting game at
debut. I was happy to have his title in my PS1 library and surprisingly put many
hours into it. However, considering its competition in the fighting genre, Bushido
Blade still left a lot to be desired in certain areas... specifically
graphics and character designs. Thankfully,
Blade 2 nicely improved on those aspects.
While not made to be taken "too
seriously" as a competitive fighting game, Bushido Blade's gameplay was solid & fun for the time,
although somewhat slow... especially when compared with other weapon based fighting
games of the era. If you can get past the outdated graphics, there's a
satisfying gameplay experience in Bushido Blade that no fighting game
player or samurai fan should miss out on. ~TFG