Review by FFandMMfan

"An excellent game for fans of Bleach... unless you like the characters that got SCREWED"

Bleach, one of the most popular action Manga currently running in Shonen Jump, a story of a young boy named Ichigo Kurosaki who can see spirits, and that very ability drags him into a tangled web of supernatural beings and events that will change his life forever.

But if you're looking up this review, I'm sure you know that already. Before I go on, I will mention that if you've been watching/reading Bleach in it's American run, I would advise against getting this game, or even reading this review, since the game contains spoilers for various characters and their powers, and could potentially ruin major plot points for the player. This review will contain spoilers related to the Anime/Manga series, so if you aren't up to the most recent episodes/chapters, or at least close to it, I would suggest clicking the "Back" button on your browser.

Alright, so let's get down to business.

Bleach DS 2nd takes place after the Soul Society arc, and before the Bount arc, in a non-cannon mini-storyline. Since the game is in Japanese, people who cannot read the language will not be reading the story, but it isn't particularly interesting anyway.

The game is a 2D fighter, which (for the most part) sticks to the tried and true formula of "Use combos to deplete your opponent's life bar", but adds a few little mechanics and modes in, that make it a little more interesting than some other fighters.

So, how's it play? Read on to find out...

Gameplay - 8/10
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If you've played and enjoyed most any 2D fighter released in the last, oh, 15 years or so, you'll probably enjoy BDS2, especially if you like Bleach. The formula is very similar to most every other fighter on the market, but it does have a few noticable differences.

The first difference being the Reifu cards. When you start a match, you may select a Reifu "Deck" which will appear on the touch screen. Tapping a card (each with an image of a Bleach character) will give a variety of effects, such as slow life regeneration, increased speed, or preventing your foe from using certain types of attacks. Luckily, for those who do not enjoy the cards, you may turn them off in almost every game mode.

The second difference being the use of Shunpo (Flash Steps), which allow you to dash through your foes, evade attacks easier, and extend your combos beyond their normal limits. They however, are limited, and take time to regenerate, so it's not possible for a foe to constantly run through you for an entire match or blast out infinite combo chains using them.

The third difference being 3 and 4 player matches, and the use of Line Change. The match takes place on two planes, the front line and back line. 1st and 2nd player always start on the front line, and 3rd and 4th always start on the back line, and you can jump between lines with the L button. If you wish to fight on a straight path with no line changes, they can be turned off.

The last difference being the Special and Super shortcuts on the touch screen. Each of your character's Special and Super attacks have a button on the touch screen that, when tapped, will excecute that attack without the need for a button combo. However, using these shortcuts will deplete your Shunpo meter, which makes using them constantly a bad idea.

So, other than that, you're basically just attacking with button combos and pressing directional combinations and an attack button to excecute your specials and supers. It's a very familiar formula, but these other features add a lot of depth to the game.

Anyway, the game features an Arcade Mode (a series of fights against random foes), a Story Mode (the main storyline, where you will unlock most of the characters, and gain money for buying unlockables), a Training mode, Time Attack mode, Survival Mode, Multiplayer (VS the CPU, multi-card, single-card and Wi-Fi play) and a bunch of little extras like the Urahara Shop and Gallery.

All of this, and your favorite Bleach characters too! What could possibly go wrong!? Well....

Characters - 5/10
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This is the major problem with the game, and the reason my review is titled the way it is. Sure, you've got major characters like Ichigo, Rukia, Renji, Chad, Uryuu, Hitsugaya, and several others, but there's 4 major problems with the game, the Joke Characters, the Nerfed Characters, the Characters Who Had No Reason To Be Playable, and the Characters That Were Completely Left Out For No ****ing Reason.

Sure, I wanted to play as Hitsugaya and Ichimaru and such, but then I had heard I could play as Ururu and Yachiru, among others, and I was like "Wow, that's awesome, they kick ass" but of course, when I unlock them, I realize that they were given stupid nerfs for no reason.

Ururu, who has been shown to have the ability of insane ass kicking power, is stuck doing nothing but basic attacks and cannon fire. And that's not all, she also takes DOUBLE DAMAGE. I mean, WHY would you do that in a game where the characters and license MAKE the game? I can understand if this was some random fighter with original characters, giving characters obvious 1.5x and 2x damage nerfs and making them suck, but why do this in a game where the nerfed character might be Person X's favorite character?

This sort of thing happens to far too many characters than it has any reason to, Ururu, Yachiru, Orihime, Tatsuki, Kon, among others, all take increased damage, for no apparent reason. Even Yachiru and Tatsuki who could probably hold their own in serious battles without the increased damage and nerfs, become almost unusable in any serious match.

Now let's talk about random nerfs that make no sense. Yachiru will randomly fall down while doing ANYTHING, running, jumping, attacking, basically ruining her chances of any sort of decent combo. Ukitake randomly coughs and stops fighting, but yet characters who are stupidly strong and in the higher tiers get no such nerfs, but the characters who already can't deal any damage, are the ones who take more damage and fall down randomly. At least Ukitake is usable...

Then there's the characters who had no reason to be playable. Sure, THESE are Joke characters, but you have to think, if we have Shibata, Bonnie, Goteitaishi (random Shinigami) and random weak-ass Hollows, why can't we play as Yumichika?

Yes, that's right, Yumichika is not playable, despite being Ikkaku's buddy and barely any more important than Ikkaku himself in the SS arc, he's nowhere to be found. Neither are other high rank characters like Unohana, but yet we have Grand Fisher...

Even though the game takes place BEFORE the Bount arc, we also get Ririn, but it's doll-Ririn and as such, she's a Joke character. But since we have one character from later in the series, not to mention some characters having abilities they had not known at that point, we couldn't get Gigai Ririn, or Nova, Cloud, any of the Bount or Arancarr, not even important ones... but we get Shibata...

Point being, even though there are A LOT of characters, and a lot of good ones, there are TOO MANY Joke characters and too many important characters that were completely left out, or screwed with increased damage nerfs.

Music - 5/10
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Boring and forgetable. A few of them are downright annoying, The opening theme is mediocre, and there's not really anything that STANDS OUT. It's not the worst soundtrack I've heard by any means, but none of it is great.

Graphics - 8/10
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On most other systems, they'd be considered bad, but for the DS, the game looks really good. Nice special effects, nice character animations, overall just good. No major complaints here.

Unlockables and Bonus Stuff - 8/10
===========================
There's A LOT of stuff to unlock in BDS2. The story mode will supply you with new characters, Reifu cards and money for the Urahara Shop. In the Urahara shop, you can buy more Reifu cards, Reiju gems that boost your character's stats, menu voices (EVERY character in the game has a menu voice to say all of the mode names IN ENGLISH, even some character's who aren't playable like Jinta), Art Gallery images, character costume colors, sound and music samples... There's A LOT of stuff to unlock, and almost all of it is really cool. Sure, most of it has no direct effect on gameplay, but they're all nice touches.

Plus, there's Wi-Fi play, but if you play on Random, there WILL be lag, though Friends matches usually run just fine. There's also worldwide ranking boards for players on Wi-Fi, and a little Emblem maker feature.

Final Thoughts
============
While Bleach DS 2nd is a good game at it's core, the character issues and the lacking music lower the score to a 7/10, otherwise it would have been an 8/10. If you like Bleach, I really don't see why you would pass it up, unless fighters aren't your thing. But keep in mind, it's not perfect. Language barrier really isn't an issue, because there's an FAQ with mission translations.

Pros:
+ An overall good fighter
+ Lots of characters
+ Nice graphics
+ Wi-Fi play
+ Lots of unlockables
+ Decent AI

Cons:
- Too many character nerfs
- Too many important, and popular characters have been left out
- Music is lacking
- Lots of lag on random Wi-fi matches
- Some of the missions require you to answer questions in Japanese, making it a trial-and-error issue
- TOO MANY NERFS

So yeah, if you're a fan of Bleach, look into it, the language barrier isn't too bad, and it's overall pretty good.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/30/07


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