Review by Mana Knight 24

"An Original Fighter...And Much Better For It!"

Bushido Blade is another fine game made by Square - But wait, before you think another word! This is a FIGHTING game! Not only a fighting game, but an original fighting game, at that. Isn't that somewhat of a paradox nowadays?
But, nonetheless, it is. You play as a samurai in ancient Japan, more specifically in a swordfighting school. But more on that later.

Sound - 10/10 - The sound in this game, in my opinion, is great. Mostly because there's not much of it! When you or your opponent is running, you can hear your feet hitting the stone floor of the castle, or the crunch when running on snow or maybe tree leaves. There's a couple ''YA''s and ''HAI''s when attacking, but mostly it's the collision of swords, and it sounds great. A successful block will make a smacking noise, as will an attack knocking away an opponents sword. The only thing that's not completely real is when you hit an opponent, in which case there's really no appropriate sound anyway, and it results in a kind of ''SHHHH''. There is really no music - reminds me of another game that I won't go into - and it gives it a bare effect, just you, your opponent, and your weapons. Every once in a while some music will fade in and out, but you'll either be thinking or reacting too much to really notice.

Graphics - 8/10 - The graphics are not really important to me, but I suppose some people really care how it looks. The art is great - the fog will obstruct your view when fighting in a castle in the morning, and darkness, too is a factor. The artwork is great, and the trees and stone and snow etc. is beautiful. Objects are 2d, and sometimes will pop in and out of view if obstructing your view, or maybe pop in so it will. Usually, though, this isn't too much of a problem. Also, characters are polygonal, but this was the early years of the PlayStation, and it doesn't bother me too much. Plus, they move pretty smooth - a nice 30 Frames Per Second (FPS). This really enhances the realism, waiting and looking at your character breathe in and out, waiting for your opponent to make the first move. One thing I particularly like about this game is that while you have physical realism, it doesn't mean blood is spurting everywhere and heads are rolling around. That's what I don't like in games...It just doesn't seem necessary.

Story - 7/10 - The story is pretty good, nothing fantastic but I like it. You are an honorable samurai in a swordfighting school when you discover it's not what it seems. Upon realizing it's actually a group of assassins, you try to leave, but of course, they can't have that happen! You have six different samurai to choose from, each with their own reason for leaving. (I'm not entirely clear on the story, but that's about the gist).

Gameplay - 10/10 - Of course, the very most important part of a game! At least to a sensible person like me...Anyway, you have a lot of choices before you even start battling - You have six characters to choose from (As previously mentioned), each a little less or more stronger or faster, generally faster and weaker on the left and stronger and slower on the right. They all have a couple of their own moves, but most moves are dependent upon the weapon - There are about 8 of them (From Longsword to war hammer to sabre!), and they again have different speed/strength capabilities. Some will work well, others don't, but in my opinion it's all about your style. You may like all speed with Tatsumi and a quick weapon, or choose a heavyweight and a war hammer, or a happy medium. All this talking and not even to the battle yet - now's when we start. You start in a battlefield, and it could be anything, really, from a bamboo forest to hack down or maybe some snow, or a castle! You stand facing your opponent (But you may not be standing for long), weapon in hand. You have three different main attacks, Triangle for Upper attacks (Primarily head), Circle for Mid attacks (Mostly Torso), and X for low attacks (Mostly legs). There are several combos to perform, mostly 2 or 3 attacks. This is where you stop in amazement. There's no lifebar, special bar, combo meter, etc. And this is a fighter! Back to my talk of buttons - And you have square to block all of these attacks, assuming you time it correctly. This isn't everything, though, as sometimes you won't have time to block after the natural stun of it and another impending hit from a combo. There's more ways to evade - but that's later. You hold L1 to run around in complete 3D freedom, as otherwise you would be facing your opponent at the ready, moving usually slowly. Different combos of the R buttons will allow you to do such nifty tricks as crouching, jumping, picking up and throwing sub-weapons, rolling back in response to an attack, when used in combination with other buttons. Some combinations are somewhat taxing to do timed right consistently, but that in my opinion is what getting good is all about. Of course, timing isn't everything. You're going to need strategy - it's all well and good if you can time a mid attack perfectly, but if your strategic opponent realizes this, ducks, and uses a low attack, you no longer have usable legs! It may appear not to have strategy, and some say that a newbie can pick up the controller and win in one hit, but this is simply not true. They run at you with an overhead slice, you block, make a double slice, the first knocking away their sword, the next killing them, and you're telling me that's luck? Anyway, now to the modes of play!
Versus - Well, obviously, two humans on one, this is really fun if two people with skill are battling, which results in some really long, snazzy fights.
Practice - Erm......Practice.
Slash - Take on a hundred generic ninjas one by one armed only with a katana. Reap the rewards if you don't die once throughout!
Story - The main mode, each character having different cut scenes and stories.
POV - Freaky, from a first-person view, you battle.
That's about it, I guess.

Overall - 10/10. This is a great game all around, and of course it's innovative! And innovation is all well and good, but if it's a GOOD innovation...There you go. A beautiful fighting game.
So. Are you going to cherish this forever, rent it, or immediately throw it in the trash can? In my opinion, you may want to rent it if you think you're more likely to opt for rolling heads and lifebars, but if you like strategy and innovation, you may want to just buy it. I can't imagine someone just plain hating this game, but I suppose if you're a shooter fan, they're is a remote possibility of it.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 09/09/02, Updated 09/09/02

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