Much like Haley
Joel Osment’s character in The Sixth Sense, Ichigo Kurosaki has always
been able to see the souls of the dearly departed walk the world of the living
as they wait for their chance to pass into another world. Unfortunately, those
that don’t become violent entities known as Hollows that must be vanquished by
spiritual warriors known as Soul Reapers. Rukia Kuchiki was one of those Soul
Reapers until a routine mission becomes a fight for survival and Ichigo is
suddenly given the powers of a Soul Reaper to defend the world of the living.
This is the world of Bleach, one of Shonen Jump’s most popular manga
turned into a mega hot anime series on the Cartoon Network. Like other popular
anime, it also inspired a Nintendo Wii game as well as Bleach: The Blade of
Fate for the Nintendo DS.
starting from the beginning, The Blade of Fate’s Story Mode takes
it’s cue from the anime’s second season that has Ichigo surviving a most brutal
battle between himself and two experienced Soul Reapers that have crossed into
the world of the living to arrest and bring back Rukia for having defied the
Soul Society in aiding the living. Having formed a bond with the lovely Rukia,
Ichigo swears to go into the Soul Society and rescue her. Along with his friends
Chad, Orihime and Uryu, Ichigo sets out to rescue Rukia by infiltrating the Soul
Society itself. This isn’t going to be easy because not only is Rukia held in a
tower known as the Repentance Cell but Ichigo must battle the Thirteen Court
Guard Squad that consists of various powerful squad Captains and Lieutenants.
Fans of the
anime or manga will definitely recognize the assortment of foes Ichigo will face
off such as Renji Abarai and even Rukia’s half brother Byakuya Kuchiki just to
name a few of the enemies you will battle. Story Mode begins with a brief
tutorial that is meant to recall a key moment in the series where Ichigo trains
before he crosses over to the other side. While the story isn’t incredibly deep
and forgivably skips a few details from the show and manga, the game relives
some of the best Bleach moments such as Ichigo’s humorous battle with
Ganju (and the boar he rides on) as well as the most memorable battles against
Captains and Lieutenants. The story even has branching paths that have you
facing off different opponents if you don’t successfully complete certain
conditions required in each battle. One example might be that in order to reach
a Captain who knows how to reach Rukia’s cell you must defeat his Lieutenant by
not using a particular super-powered attack.
The best part is
that you don’t have to be a Bleach fan to enjoy this game nor do you have
to know who each character is to get by in the game. Fighting fans will almost
immediately notice that The Blade of Fate tips its hat to 2D fighting
games of the classic Street Fighter, King of the Fighters and
Guilty Gears variety. The game doesn’t keep things simple, either, meaning
each character has a wide array of attacks and abilities that set them apart so
no two characters ever fight alike. For example, the game has three brawlers –
characters that don’t possess transforming swords known as Zanpaku-to – and each
one unleashes punches in different ways. Chad, for instance, has a heavy armored
arm that can slam an opponent across the screen while the dainty Orihime uses
her triangle-shaped force field to add a little extra to her punch. Even those
characters with weapons never fight the same either, giving each of the 28
character in the game their own sense of style.
the game fits the handheld just right so gamers can simply pick this one up and
start dealing the light, medium and heavy attacks with ease. The top screen
displays the action while the bottom touch screen is reserved for the Spirit
Cards and Special Attacks you can pick just by tapping them in the middle of
battle. You start with a limited number of Spirit Cards in your deck and earn
more in Story Mode with each opponent you defeat. These cards each possess a
special effect or power that gives your fighter an extra boost in battle. One
card, for example, might add extra damage to the blows you give your enemies
while another card might give your Flash Step (which makes you dodge at a
lighting speed) an extra speed boost. You can also switch to the Special or
Super Attacks menu that has a number of individual special attacks that are true
to each character and deals the biggest chain combo damage to your opponents.
These special attacks certainly come in handy seeing as some fights require you
to take on two opponents at once.
Aside from the
game’s main Story mode, there’s Arcade Mode that plays like your average
arcade-styled game mode as well as Challenge Mode (where you’ll have to execute
a number of combos to get by). There’s a shop where you can purchase gallery and
sound goodies and there’s even a Deck Construction option that allows you to
customize your Spirit Card deck the way you want it. The best feature just so
happens to be Versus Mode, the game’s multiplayer game that allows you to play
against a friend or three or go up against others online through the Nintendo DS
Wi-Fi connection. Locally, your friends don’t even have to own a copy of the
game so you can use a single card.
graphics are also something of a highlight since they’re actually really
gorgeous. Sure Bleach fans will get a kick out of the art that’s straight
out of the anime and manga during the cut scenes but they’ll also quickly point
out the characters during battle as well. I’m talking nicely detailed characters
that produce some equally detailed visual effects. Even the backgrounds will be
recognizable to fans so this is, overall, one pretty Nintendo DS game.
There’s also a
pretty impressive soundtrack here and those who know the show will love the fact
that the game uses the show’s final season opening theme song as well as the
anime’s original score. Aside from the fact that the game uses the anime’s
music, the show’s English dub cast provides the voices of each of the various
characters so you’ll find Ichigo voiced by none other than Johnny Bosch who
voices him on the anime. The sound effects are pretty good as well.
Easily one of
the best and most entertaining fighting games on the Nintendo DS, Bleach: The
Blade of Fate is one of those games that is hard to put down and deserving
of a spot in your portable gaming library. As a dedicated fan of the anime, it’s
a real treat to find a fighting game worthy of the series and as a fighting game
fan this one has all the things that make the genre such a blast to play. If
you’re a Bleach fan buying this one is a no-brainer but if you’re a fan
of fighting games this is one game you should not be without.
are wonderfully responsive and there are plenty of moves to unleash no matter
what character you pick so even the weakest character (I’m looking at you,
Orihime) can get through a brutal fight. The game’s Story Mode has its own
branching path and does a somewhat decent job of retelling one of the most
dramatic storylines in the show. There’s even an online multiplayer mode.
graphics are actually surprisingly beautiful on the DS and there’s art from the
manga and show used to advance the story. Even the backgrounds and flashy
effects look spectacular and you’ll easily recognize each character as you
Network’s English dub actors show up to voice all the familiar Bleach
characters and that alone will please fans. There are even some tunes from the
show, including the final season’s opening theme song. As far as the sound
effects are concerned, they do the trick nicely.
mission to save Rukia isn’t an easy one but by coming up with your own power-up
Spirit Deck strategy and unleashing all the best combo moves, you can get by
just fine. Some characters are appropriately difficult to beat just like in the
anime and manga and oftentimes you’ll even go up against two enemies at once.
Fans of the
much-loved anime and manga will be happy to play through the Soul Society
storyline and take part in the series’ memorable battles. Fighting fans will
love the number of specialty moves each character possesses and the ability to
mix and match their Spirit Deck power-ups. Oh, and there are plenty of
characters to use and the game has the best multiplayer mode this side of
Mario Kart DS.
Up to three
friends can download the multiplayer Versus Mode to battle against you or you
can play the game online using the handheld’s Wi-Fi capabilities. You can keep
the match as a one-on-one deal but the game allows a two-on-two match with ease.
of Fate is not
only the best Bleach game so far but it’s also the best fighting game to
grace the Nintendo DS. Filled to the brim with stylish moves, a fun game modes
and attractive graphics, the game is loyal to the anime and pays homage to
classic 2D fighting games all in one neat portable package. Even if you’re not a
Bleach fan, this is the DS game fighting enthusiasts should not miss at