The Last Blade

STORY:  The Last Blade is set in 1863 during the Bakumatsu, the final years of the Tokugawa shogunate where a clash of ideologies were fighting to decide Japan's new society. Long before humanity existed, in a far off time of myth, death was an unknown, equally distant concept, but when death first came to the world, the "Messenger from Afar" was born. With time, the Sealing Rite was held in order to seal Death behind Hell's Gate. At that time, two worlds, one near and one far, were born. Thus the history of life and death began.

Half a year has passed since Suzaku's madness, and the underworld is still linked by a great portal. Kagami's great sin is still heard as if ringing from the heavens. Our world has been called upon. Legends of long ago told of the sealing of the boundary between the two worlds. The Sealing Rite would be necessary to hold back the spirits of that far away world. However, the Sealing Rite brings together the power of the Four Gods and Sealing Maiden, for the first time properly completing the ritual.

To find the Sealing Maiden, Genbu began searching in the center of the world, from which all things begin. At the same time in the underworld, in the depths of darkness, many spirits conspired, plotting to hinder the Sealing Rite. They had but one wish, to be reborn into our world.

Classy selection screen.

Following in the footsteps of SNK's highly acclaimed Samurai Shodown series, The Last Blade presents a brand new cast of samurai-style characters inspired by the Bakumatsu period in ancient Japan. The Last Blade was one of the only 2D weapon based fighting game around at the time of its debut. Although it didn't become as popular as other SNK franchises, the series becames known among NeoGeo fans for its interesting character designs, superb animation & graphics (some of SNK's best to date), and solid gameplay.


Things are about to get ugly... 


Besides Last Blade's slick graphics and cool characters, the innovation lies within its unique gameplay. Players can choose between two different "styles" per character: "Speed" and "Power". Speed Mode enables speed combos, chain combos, and desperation moves, while Power Mode increases damage potential but limits combos, requiring more strict inputs, and also gives the character the ability to do a Super Desperation Move.


Amazing backgrounds... if ya haven't noticed.


Overall, Last Blade's gameplay system includes deep systems for those that put the time in, but is also rather easy to pick up for beginners. For the advanced players, the gameplay engine features a deflecting or parrying system, allowing for quick countering and, not to mention, some pretty epic- looking sword battles. While the first Last Blade is a solid 2D fighter, I personally don't think it's as fun or as replayable as other SNK titles. I guess I'm just a Samurai Shodown fanboy at the end of the day, sorry. (But maybe there's a reason Samurai Shodown got six or seven sequels and Last Blade only got one?)




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Page Updated: December 6th, 2019
Developer(s): SNK
Publisher(s): SNK
Platform(s): Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, PC, Dreamcast, PS1, PS2, PS4
Release Date(s): Dec. 5th, 1997                Arcade
Jan. 29th, 1998            /   NeoGeo
Mar. 26th, 1998           /   NeoGeo CD
Feb. 25th, 1999              PlayStation
Jan. 12th, 2006
             PS2 - in NeoGeo Online Collection
June 15th, 2017            PS4 / PSN
Characters Kaede, Moriya, Yuki, Juzoh, Akari, Amano, Shigen, Zantetsu, Shikyo, Washizuka, Rekka, Genbu, Musashi, Kagami

Featured Video:

Related Games: The Last Blade 2, The Last Blade: Beyond The Destiny, Samurai Shodown, Samurai Shodown 4, Soul BladeSoul Calibur, Bushido Blade, King of Fighters '97, Street Fighter 3, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Golden Axe: The Duel

Gameplay Engine

 8.5 / 10

Story / Theme

 9.0 / 10

Overall Graphics

 9.0 / 10


 9.0 / 10

Music / Sound Effects

 8.0 / 10


 7.5 / 10

Art Direction

 8.5 / 10


 8.0 / 10

Options / Extras

 7.5 / 10

Intro / Presentation

 8.5 / 10

Replayability / Fun

 6.0 / 10

"Ouch" Factor

 7.0 / 10


 7.5 / 10


 8.1 / 10

 Review based on Arcade version     


Final Words:

Though a very pretty and technical game, The Last Blade never matched its friendly rival, Samurai Shodown. That may be because the Samurai Shodown series packs the flashier moves, more exciting & charismatic characters, and the blood & stylish fatalities at the end of battles. In fact, after playing the Shodown series for all these years, to me it just seems like Last Blade is a more "watered down" version of Samurai Shodown.

The Last Blade can still hold its own as a quality 2D fighting game, but the fighters don't quite have that "ferocity" seen in other characters at the time. At times, it seems like Last Blade characters don't really want to hurt each other all that much... they all sort of seem more like friends or something (which even reflects in the box art). I personally like to see a bit more bloodthirstiness out of my fighters. The sequel, Last Blade 2 was a significant enhancement to the original.
~TFG Webmaster | @FIGHTERS_GEN