Hack it, Stab it and Bankai your way onto Wii with Bleach: Shattered blade. This is the first Bleach game to be licensed and sold to UK markets on the lovable console to coincide with the launch of Bleach: the Blade of Fate (DS).
For those of you unfamiliar in the world of Bleach, it is based on the manga written by Tite Kubo and published by Shonen Jump/Viz Media. The main protagonist is Ichigo, a stubborn, hard ass teenager that acquires soul reaper (shinigami, directly translated means ‘god of death’ ) powers, which basically means he kills these evil spirits called ‘hollows’, whilst getting wrapped up in some unfortunate events. Shattered blade takes place directly after the events of the first arc and is based around the ‘sokyoku shards’ and a mystery among the Soul Society. Luckily, none of this particularly matters as the story is pretty shallow. Just what you expect form an arcade fighting game.
The main meat of the game is made up of story mode which you can embark upon with any character you see fit, this gives you a library of 33 characters to choose from* (*after unlocks). Each characters campaign can be finished in about half an hour and they are all upsettingly similar. Within the story, you have to face the English voice acting which is appalling in every way, but all the characters show their little idiosyncrasies, e.g. Hanatoro yamada has an attack where he falls over and Captain Unahanna does an attack to save him. The attacks in the game are all representative of the manga/anime and are very over the top which is nice. Seeing as this is early in the series, some of the characters attacks are made up/changed as not to ruin the story for UK viewers who have yet to reach the same stage as Japan, which is thoughtful.
The game play is fast paced and aggressive, just like it should be. Sword movements are mapped to the Wii remote and is relatively precise. Horizontal, vertical and stab attacks are representative of what you are actually meant to be doing with your arms. A button triggers a critical hit which also acts as a guard brake (Z for block), and B offers character specific specials. E.g. holding B and moving the Wii mote horizontal will trigger a Getsuga Tensho when using Ichigo. Analogue stick moves the character whilst holding C allows your character to run/Warp* (*In Bankai mode). The nunchuck also has other uses, shaking it vigorously charges your spirit energy (rieatsu) gage (attacks/damage also has same effect). Once full, Shaking once more allows you to enter Bankai Mode for a limited time, in which your weapon changes and you can execute specials (hold B and stab forward) which finishes bankai mode and does some serious damage to your foes. Probably the most annoying thing about combat is that it gets broken up frequently when two critical attacks are subjected at the same time. You enter a type of ‘rock, paper, scissors’ match where horizontal attack beats stab, stab beats vertical and vertical beats horizontal, this goes on for 3 rounds until a victor is decided and they lose the appropriate amount of health depending on how many rounds they lost. This can happen frequently when playing on hard mode and leads to a certain amount of frustration when the remote doesn’t recognise the input.
Multi-player is where this game shines through and even though you need little movements, you’ll soon be working up a sweat moving your hands round like a maniac to try and beat your friends. It gives a whole new competitive edge to games much like Wii boxing and has that ‘one more match’ factor where you give it your all.
(loading screen is brilliant ^^)
There are some pleasant unlockables to get such as school girl costumes for both Orihime and Matsumoto who could shelter a several children from the sun with the bust that they sport for chests. These are incredibly revealing and make you prey “Oh lord, Thank god for Jiggle Physics”, other characters have unlockables too, but those are two of the best mentioned above!
The graphics are really slick and smooth, and are a charm to look at, think dragon ball Z, but painted with a brush and that is bleach. The pseudo surroundings are nicely detailed (you play on a flat plain) but it would be nice to fight in the air as well as on the ground. As you run little ‘tump tump tump’ expressions arise from your feet, pointing ever so vigilantly to the Manga’s.
The audio is pretty much bog standard, what you would expect from a game like this, not unpleasant but not memorable either, which is unfortunate as the Anime has some pretty impressive pieces composed by Shiro Sagisu, which could have had a drastic impact on the gaming experience.
Overall, as with most fighting games, multiplayer is where this game excels. It’s fast paced and furious and will have you playing for a while with friends. The story mode is decent but quickly becomes repetitive and you will find yourself doing skirmishes to unlock the available characters which is interesting for a while, then quickly becomes agitating. In short, this game is like marmite. You will either love it or hate it. For Bleach fans it will hold a lot more fun and longevity than if you know nothing about the game. Still, worth a look in, particularly if you can find it on the cheap.
- Good multiplayer
- A lot of characters
- Jaw dropping outfits
- Good use of controls
- English voice acting
- Limited Longevity
- You will hate the term ‘Sokyoku Shards’
- No Online