Bleach: Shattered Blade

Review: Bleach: Shattered Blade

Wii Review

The sword-wielding anime finally makes its way to European shores. Was it worth the wait?

"...the game is completely cel-shaded to make it appear like the franchise's anime counterpart and looks well-animated and fluid."

Released sixteen months ago in Japan, Bleach: Shattered Blade is finally hitting Europe. So, for Bleach fans, first and foremost, when exactly does the story take place? Will this review have spoilers of the actual plot for anime fans watching the dub? Story wise, no. The Episode mode of the game takes place after the events of the Soul Society Arc where Ichigo and friends go to save Rukia from a fast approaching death - so for fans that haven't seen up to the end of the arc (episode 63) you'll be in for some spoilers as the exclusive Wii story tells some events of the arc, (this review however will remain plot spoiler free). Episode Mode takes you through the exclusive Wii story line, while Arcade mode puts you in an all out battle in a set of 8 matches.

So to begin, the story. It's set after the events of the arc mentioned, so instead of moving onto the next arc, it takes place in a brand new story exclusively for the Wii version of the game. To be frank, the story itself is fairly weak. Ichigo and friends try to return to the human world, but alas, Ichigo gets told he can't return since the gateway that connects the worlds has been closed for 100 years to stop invaders coming into the Soul Society. The only way to 'break' the seal is to collect the shards of the sōyoku as told by a questionable Yoruichi. Hot headed as our main man Ichigo is, he runs off to find the shards - unknowing that other characters such as Renji and Hitsugaya are also told they need to find shards for other reasons as well.

To collect these shards you must go after the people who are also attempting to capture them, and you'll need to fight and defeat them to move on and advance. Every playable character in the story mode has a total of 10 fights each, making each characters 'story' actually rather short. It begins with a series of still pictures to show what the character is talking about, and a recap of some events from the previous arc, then an explanation of why you need to get the shards. After this you get slammed into each fight with a few short cutscenes along the way until you reach the final fight after a short revelation - a hallow somehow got his powers back and wants to take revenge. As you dispose of this menace, everything ends up well in the end. Nothing too complicated, but it gives you a slight reason to fight and beat up all the friends you just made.

"Yeah, well look at my angry eyes!"

One of the most important points of the game are the controls - exactly how well does it play? To be blunt, the system might not appeal to 'hardcore' fighters, nevertheless it is enjoyable, especially for the Bleach fans. To begin with, you have two types of attack, critical by first holding down the A button, and special while pressing the B button, and then slashing your Wii-mote horizontally (slash), vertically (chop) or as a stab motion to make your respective sword movements. How you swing will change the attack accordingly. Lets take an example with Ichigo and his special attacks. You flip the Wii-remote up vertically and accordingly, he will swing his sword up from the ground to release reiatsu to attack the enemy, just like if you swing the Wii-mote down, he will perform getsuga tensho. Holding the A button and changing the directions of your attack will naturally produce sword swings in the designated direction. The good part is, each character plays differently and they all have different attacks to make the characters unique. Hitsugaya for instance must swing slash his sword to the side to release his Hyōinmaru and swing upwards to release ice from the ground to trap his enemies, and some care has been taken to make each character different.

To make the fighting a bit more interesting, if the two players charge at each other and attack at the same time, this will initiate a 'Rock Paper Scissors' like attack sequance called "Clash" where you must slash, chop or stab at the right time to try and beat your opponent. During this sequence there are five attacks you must perform at a certain time which can be seen in a gauge, with your attacks needing to top your opponents'. Chop (slash up or down) beats slash (left or right), slash beats stab and stab beats chop. All simple to understand and depending how often you win each attack, more damage will be taken off the opponent. With all the basics in place it's time to move on to the Bankai mode.

"Please don't hit me!"

You have a Bankai gauge down at the bottom of your screen which fills up with each attack you do, damage received or if you shake the nun-chuck. Once the gauge is full, shake the nun-chuck once more and a little cutscene with some music will take place showing the character releasing their bankai. Depending on your character's particuar bankai, they gain different abilities. Some characters speed may decrease but gain a large amount of power, won't be able to be knocked down due to their armour and gain in agility. Ichigo for example, gains a power boost, becomes faster and in this mode can use "Flash Step" (by holding C and the direction you want to move in), where he darts across the screen at immensely high speeds, almost guaranteed to win the game. Lastly, with the Bankai mode, you get to have an attack sequence that begins after a critical strike which deals a fair amount of damage to the enemy, but after you perform this powerful attack, your bankai meter depletes and you turn into your normal form again.

As for the graphics, the game is completely cel-shaded to make it appear like the franchise's anime counterpart and looks well-animated and fluid. There's very little bright colour in the game to have a somewhat more serious tone, though after all, what's more serious than butchering your opponent? Along with the lush graphics there are some nice special effects during the bankai mode and special attacks.

"You call that a sword?!"

In the Episode mode, there are a total of eight character stories, five of which are unlocked after completing the story with the starting characters. Once the story is beaten with a character you will begin to get unlockables such as character models, voice clips, music from the game. There are 32 characters available to fight as overall, though to unlock them you'll need to complete the episode mode entirely and buy every item from the Uruhara shop with the money you get from the Episode and Arcade modes. Something for the hardcore Bleach fans only.

To summarise, there are a fair few unlockables to keep you busy, but the question is, will you want to keep playing the game? After a while even fans may get discouraged from playing, feeling they are doing the same moves over and over. There just isn't enough mastery involved, as the distance between beginners and experienced players isn't great. Being able to play as current and future Bleach characters is a nice touch for fans, though the title in general is a game for playing only in short bursts. The characters are definitely worth noting as they all feel unique to the animé and are all animated very well - from Ichigo to the ever clumsy Hanatarō. If you're a big fan of the Bleach animé or of the genre, you should consider getting this, though it is an acquired taste.

Review scores follow right below...

N-Europe Final Verdict

A game that could easily be made better with a decent story and a better fighting system to separate the good players from bad.

  • Gameplay3
  • Playability3
  • Visuals4
  • Audio3
  • Lifespan2
Final Score



Well animated and unique feeling characters
Lots of unlockables
You'll get tired of it, but come back for more


Weak story
Won't take long to unlock everything
Not enough mastery involved

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