Bleach: The Blade of Fate

Review: Bleach: The Blade of Fate

Wii Review

So, everyone knows Bleach right? That Shonen anime/manga with an orange haired guy running around cutting up people with a giant sword and shouting "Bankai!". You do? Good. Well now you can cut people up with a giant sword on the DS too. You can shout "Bankai!" all you want too, but the microphone isn't used in the game.

Bleach: The Blade of Fate is the translated version of Bleach DS, which came out more than a year ago in Japan with a sequel already out, covering the Soul Society arc (up to episode 63 in the anime). There aren't a lot of good DS fighting games to choose from in the West, so The Blade of Fate is very, very welcome.

At first, the game seems a bit slow and clunky, its only redeeming grace, the attack shortcuts that allow newcomers to perform even the most powerful attack with their Zanpakutō (or Soul Slayer, in English). These shortcuts however, manage to keep the player's attention long enough to learn the ins and outs of the game and to find out that Bleach manages a great balance between fast paced, arcade-like fighting and strategy. For the most part, Bleach is pretty much like Guilty Gear and other beat'em ups, with light, medium and strong attacks along with the special and super techniques that need energy gauges to be filled (spirit power and spirit pressure). From the series comes flash step, a form of dashing that allows you to avoid all kind of attacks and "teleport" to where you want, however this consumes spirit power, so you can't abuse it. The special and super attacks are done by a combination of buttons as usual, but they're also accessible via touch screen, which is surprisingly easy to use and doesn't deviate too much attention from the fight. Also in the touch screen are the character cards, which serve supportive purposes like boosting defence, lowering enemy's stats, etc… These cards can be bought and organized into a deck to be used in battle.

Another feature that's not so common is that The Blade of Fate doesn't have only one on one fights, but allows up to four fighters to go toe to toe at once. In a 2D fighting field this makes the battle cluttered, so Treasure introduced a second fighting plane, by pressing L, you move to the back or front, allowing you to split up the fight and avoid attacks. It doesn't add much to the game and in fact, detracts from it, the fights just become hectic and confusing and the second plane is just damage control to keep 4 player battles in the game.

If you want to play really well (and you will find worthy opponents online), you won't get away with using the attack shortcuts (which should only be used by novice players anyway). Once you know what cards to use with each character, master the delicate art of knowing when to attack or defend, dominating both ground and air combat, where to flash step and how to do the right combination of attacks to string dozens or hundreds of hits unto your foe, you will be hooked to the fast, yet smart combat. There is a bit of button mashing involved, but not much and it won't do you any good against a skilled adversary.

Technically the game is very good, as usual from Treasure, with very detailed sprites that capture the characters well, with great animations, detailed backgrounds and a good framerate. The storyboards used in the story mode are a bit scarce, but they do their job for the most part. The voices are annoying for those not used to the English dubs, but they soon become bearable and they're faithful to their characters' personalities, although they're bit generic at times. It's a shame there isn't an option to switch the voices to Japanese, but it could be worse.

The game is pretty complete too, the Story Mode, as mentioned before, follows the Soul Society arc and is split between chapters. Each chapter tells the (somewhat altered) story from the point of view of the major characters, like Ichigo, Ishida and most Squad Captains as well as some non-canon events with minor characters. The final chapter tells the story with more fidelity to the events told in the anime and manga. This mode is a good incentive for players to use a wide variety of characters and to re-enact the scenes from the series. Along with the usual arcade mode, there's the challenge and versus mode for those who just want to fight and don't care about story that much.

The multiplayer mode also adds a lot to the game, with single and multi-card Versus modes available, but the single card transfer is slow and has to be done between every battle, so it's better to avoid it. Also present is an online mode, which has random matchmaking and a friend code mode, as usual in DS games, both these modes are usually lag free and are great to test your skills against other Shinigami, be them friends or random foes. Online is a very welcome feature and it gives the player more reasons to master combat. With more than 25 characters, unlockable artwork, music and sound effects, Bleach will keep you entertained for a long time.As usual, Treasure delivered a very good game, which will appeal to both Bleach and fighting game fans, so if you fall into any of these categories, Bleach: The Blade of Fate is the right game for you.

The title's scores are right below...

N-Europe Final Verdict

Great job from Treasure, very well balanced and great fun once mastered. The best fighting game on DS, at least outside of Japan.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability5
  • Visuals4
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Very balanced fighting system
Good replay value
Good graphics
Online Mode
Good use of touch screen


Takes a while to find it enjoyable
3/4 player mode unnecessary
Unfair AI at times

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