Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Retro review: Bushido Blade

For those of you who follow me on twitter you will have noticed this week lots of my tweets have had the hashtag #BushidoBlade in them. In that case you will know that I LOVE THIS GAME! Bushido Blade is a PS1 title brought out by Squaresoft. Yes, you read correctly, Bushido blade is one of the few titles Squaresoft made that didn't include the words Final Fantasy anywhere.

That being said I was quite surprised that I was able to finish the story modes of all 6 characters, on hard difficulty, in less than an hour. Then again Bushido Blade is a fighting game and not an RPG. Each characters story follows the same path with minor variations here and there. They all belong to a secret group of assassins that want to escape their life of doing assassin stuff for something that never really gets explained. Probably a quiet and peaceful existence or something like that. Only after reading the Wikipedia entry on the game did I realize that Bushido Blade is set in contemporary Japan. Then again that does explain the fight on a helipad up on a skyscraper.

Bushido Blade is very unforgiving, one slip up and you're gone. This would usually put me off a fighting game but for some reason as of the last few months I've been getting into them. Bushido Blade just struck a chord with me. Unlike most fighters there is no health bar and it's one hit kills, provided you hit the chest or neck. If you hit the legs or arms you can wound your opponent. Limiting how they move and the speed at which they attack. The controls are very simple to learn and you can start playing rather quickly. I had the controls worked out in 45 minutes and was fighting against my mates within an hour. From the basic controls which are very powerful and various in their own right one can expand ones fighting capabilities by performing combos. These combos not only differ from character to character but also change depending on what weapon you use as well. There are a variety of weapons from the traditional katana to a sledge hammer. The same weapon will be handled differently by two characters because some weapons are heaver than others and certain characters are better equipped to use heavier weapons. The trade off being that heaver weapons do more damage and their chance to hit ratio is high but at the cost of speed and agility. I don't know if it's because by PS2 controllers are old but the reaction time between imputing a combo and it happening on the screen is visible. Meaning that you really need to think one or two moves ahead to do well in this game.

Aside from a story mode there is one called slash mode where you basically have to carve your way through a hundred sword wielding maniacs. Unless you can do so without dying there is no reward for doing so. I spent many an afternoon trying and at about 30 kills or so I'd just miss or my timing would be slightly off and I'd get killed. Another mode is called POV mode. Instead of playing the game at the traditional side on view the game is played from a first person perspective. At first this is really confusing because the movement controls are mostly the same as normal. After a few minutes you get used to it and it makes the game more challenging. While on the subject of challenging this game is super easy. Even on hard difficulty the games A.I will not have you working a sweat to win. So anything that makes the game more challenging is a plus.

There is really no user interface to speak of. Then again you don't really need it. Without it the whole game looks very cinematic and makes the graphics seem better than they are. It's a PS1 title meaning the graphics are not great to begin with. Squaresoft working their 'we make games look pretty' magic on them has made it slightly better but it was never going to win any awards for them. Still reckon for that generation the Nintendo 64 had better graphics by a mile.

Although I have been playing the English version of the game all the voices are in Japanese with subtitles. Except for each characters opening cutscene which is in English. As well as the voice acting being Japanese the opening video for the game has all the credits (at least I think they're credits) in Japanese. Thankfully the menus are in English making menu navigation possible. The whole point of the game is to fight in the way of the Bushido but the music just makes you want to hack and slash like its God of War. But this issue with the music is only the western release of the game. My mate has the Japanese version and the music in that is much more fitting. It's all traditional Japanese music that is reminiscent of feudal Japan with samurai running about.

Multiplayer mode is why you play the rest of the game. So that you are good enough to fight your mates. This is a good game to have at a party with all your retro gaming mates. Fights here can last as little as 2 seconds or as much as 30 minutes. If you have a mate with a PS1, a copy of the game and a way to link two  PS1 consoles together you can actually LAN Bushido Blade. This is so that people can fight each other in POV mode. Haven't tried the LAN feature out so I don't know how good it is but I'm really looking forward to finding out. That is when I can find another western copy of the game.

This game is hard to find in shops so you're better off looking for it on eBay. The copy i have was only $5 AUD. Or if you have a PS3 you can get it on PSN really cheap. I had a lot of fun playing Bushido Blade and it is going to do so well into the future. This is a game that has so far stood the test of time and I think will last far into the future.

9 out of 10

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