Game: "Bushido Blade"
Published by: Square Enix
Review: 3D fighting games are a dime a dozen these days, so it takes something really special to make one of them stand out. Well, Bushido Blade had that something special and then some. It has the standard third-person perspective that we've all come to expect in 3D fighters, but that's pretty much where the similarities end.
The game centers around Bushido - the Japanese "Way of the Warrior". Basically, it's a moral code for you (a modern honorable samurai armed with a video game controller) to live by as you hack and slash your opponents apart. After all, one must exercise proper manners when thrusting a broadsword into the ocular cavity of his enemy. It's the right thing to do. Should you choose to stab somebody in the back will cause the 1-player Story Mode games to end with you being dishonored. Should this happen to you, I suggest you commit Seppuku immediately... and don't give me any of that, "But it's only a game!" crap either. If we let ourselves run wild in video games, what's to say we won't start stabbing each other in the back in the real world as well? WHERE DOES IT END!? So yeah, keep that tanto handy, because you dishonorable bastards just might need it after playing this game.
The combat system in Bushido Blade was extremely unique at the time as well. When you start the game, you choose a character and then you pick one of eight different weapons: the broadsword, katana, long sword, naginata, nodachi, rapier, saber and sledgehammer. Each weapon has a particular length and weight which can either help or hurt you depending on which character you're playing as and who your opponent is. Personally, I prefer to use the saber or the nodachi, as I've found them to be the most effective weapons, especially when you use one of the sequential strike attacks.
The most interesting thing about the combat system, however, does not lie within the weapons or the characters themselves. Unlike most fighting games where you could slice at somebody's head with a giant sword and they'll keep attacking you as if nothing ever happened, in Bushido Blade, the battle damage is realistic. If you slice your opponents knees, they're gonna drop to the ground and will only be able to crawl towards you. This of course doesn't mean they're dead, for they could still very easily jab their weapon to your gullet and that would be the end of you. Yes indeed, the "one-hit kill" is a very common occurrence in Bushido Blade, and that's what makes it so much fun. No power meters, no power-ups, no time limits... just you and your weapon of choice.
As fun as the "Story" and "Slash" modes of this game are, Bushido Blade truly shines in the 2-player mode. There are large landscapes for you to run around, some having multiple levels for you to climb onto. And because of the realistic battle damage system, most matches won't last very long at all... some even ending in a split second. As a result, if you play this game with a friend for a few hours, you can easily rack up well over 200 matches between the two of you. And who wouldn't want to be able to brag about killing their friend 134 times in a single day? Therein lies the beauty of Bushido Blade. This was only Squaresoft's (now SquareEnix) second foray into the world of fighting games, so kudos to them for getting it so right.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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