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Bleach: Shattered Blade Review

A tale of tired wrists and cheap gameplay

You'd think by now we'd have learnt not to get swept up in the false promise of a game's opening cinematic. In arcades, the terminology for this was coined as 'attract screens', a feature that did exactly that: showcase what the title offered, thereby attracting gamers over for a butchers. If the intro did the job, coins would swiftly follow.

So even with years of gaming experience under our belts, the fast-paced cinematic that kicks in with an ear-hammering guitar riff and a collage of fiercely-diced fight scenes that caress the eyes with beautiful anime stylings makes us want to play the game badly. But professionalism kicks in fairly rapidly and we prepare for the sudden disappointing reveal of the game proper.

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Happily, it never comes. Bleach's visuals don't quite match the beauty of the anime series, but the cel-shaded characters have their own distinct edginess. Imagine Dragon Ball Z with a drop of No More Heroes.

The original premise for Bleach dates back to a manga first serialised in 2001 in Japan. In it, student Ichigo Kurosaki tackles ghosts and evil spirits with the deft swordplay of an Akira Kurosawa film. An anime series followed and a number of videogames. This Wii adaptation forgoes the anime's metaphysical discussions on the nature of man's soul and goes straight for what we want - big flashy sword fights.

Our first grapple with the system is really good fun. The Remote handles as you'd imagine, controlling your chosen character's sword, while the Nunchuk handles movement and blocking. Attacks in the game are all about speed, double figure combos reeled off with a few shakes (vertically or horizontally) of the Remote.

But to rein in any cheap spamming of attacks, Polygon Magic has attributed each fighter a stamina bar, just under the health bar. Combos and special attacks eat up its contents, so the game becomes a tense game of cat and mouse, attack and defend.

Cheap As Can Be

Well, it should. However, gameplay is destabilised by another bar, placed along the bottom of the screen. Every time you attack or defend, this bar fills up slightly. Once full, a quick shake of the Nunchuk activates the Bankai mode, basically a super-charged attack.

Super moves have been in fighting games since the '90s, but have, historically, always complimented the combat system. Once activated, the player becomes nigh-on invulnerable and attacks are hard to avoid. Battles then revolve around who can build and unleash their Bankai move first, becoming an end that you mean to get to, rather than a means to an end in itself.

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Like some arcade games, you tend not to think about the cheapness of the game mechanics if you're just having a brief blast. But Bleach has tried to bolster the main game with the usual modes that benefit a fighter in this day and age. The Episode mode is a story driven affair that delves into the characters' histories, while Arcade plays like your typical Soul Calibur variant. There are also training modes and a shop to unlock items from.

There's a game in ONM's local London arcade based on the Fist of the North Star series. The goal is to bash away with your fists at a series of pads in time with them being lit up. It's good fun for a brief work-out but you quickly realise that there's very little strategy at its heart. It's fine for the occasional short burst, but something you couldn't really imagine spending £40 on at the same time. The exact same could be said of Bleach.


15 comments so far...
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  1. Donal Friday 29th Feb 2008 at 17:55

    Here's hoping the DS version is decent!

  2. uster dog Friday 29th Feb 2008 at 20:03

    well i'v been wondering if it was any good :? it looks ok but i'v heard you can win rounds just by waving the wii-remote about :?: can anyone tell me if this is true :!: i got a copy of DBZ3 last week and i like this game a lot :D so today i went down to my local gamestation and got a copy of GUILTY GEAR XX CORE as NO MORE HEROES has been put back :cry: so whats the score then for GGXXcore is this any better :?: and by the way you get a FREE classic controller if you buy GGXXcore from gamestation or am i just a sucker for a FREE GIFT and have money to burn :? :!: :? .

  3. Megamoppy Saturday 1st Mar 2008 at 18:52

    Ive played this game on my mates american import, its an average fighter, if your looking to play solo i recommend against buying it however if you got mates who are big bleach fans go for it, the multiplayers quite a laugh

  4. guitargod Sunday 2nd Mar 2008 at 13:54

    sorry but in my eyes it was never gonna beat dragon ball z because db z is so fun and the range of playable charecters is amazing!

  5. jonowev Sunday 2nd Mar 2008 at 18:36

    I was at a party last night and a couple of people were playing it. It looked very average.

  6. gvarlet Monday 3rd Mar 2008 at 07:48

    Simply disappointing!

    Too easy and the Story mode is just a succession of fights. I would not recommend it unless you are a big Bleach fan or play with a bunch of friends.

    Think I will resell mine and wait for Naruto, hoping it will be better.

  7. mariotaz Monday 3rd Mar 2008 at 11:38

    The fact that 'Bankai mode is cheap' is laughable. I've played this game and found it fun as heck. The one game that has insane sword swinging and it gets slated. 'Tone it down' (basically)? What? Like most anime/manga based games, they get a crap review because little is known about it (Which explains alot by most of the captions being "funny" remarks about the above picture). Pink ninja V a Pirate! Wrong! Anime/Manga based games should really not be reviewed.

  8. kiba-fang-over Monday 3rd Mar 2008 at 21:05

    mike jackson u rated this game too low i am very annoyed it is a great game bankai mode IS NOT cheap and the replay value is great i love bleach i watch ot every day i havve read most of the manga novels so if i was to give it a score i woild say 82% or higher

  9. Nall Tuesday 4th Mar 2008 at 14:36

    What rating did it get?

    And I'm getting it anyway, along with heat the soul 4 on teh PSP, as soon as I get money.

  10. Bigby Thursday 6th Mar 2008 at 15:08

    Can't it beat DBZ? One word; NO

  11. rolinfunder9 Friday 7th Mar 2008 at 00:20

    it got 60%

  12. kiba-fang-over Saturday 8th Mar 2008 at 11:10

    Can't it beat DBZ? One word; NO

    yes it can by miles dbz sucks it has a useless story line

  13. Sgtsarge Saturday 8th Mar 2008 at 18:33

    I was hoping for the score to be higher than that, to be honest. The DS Bleach game has gotten suprisingly high scores and looks really decent. Here's hoping it gets a much better score than this.

  14. ChrisONM Sunday 9th Mar 2008 at 00:43

    I was hoping for the score to be higher than that, to be honest. The DS Bleach game has gotten suprisingly high scores and looks really decent. Here's hoping it gets a much better score than this.

    I'm not sure if we're covering the DS version in this issue but if we're not I'll knock up a quick review for the site. For the record, I think the DS one is great.

  15. JackGoode24 Monday 10th Mar 2008 at 00:15

    When i heard about this game i got really excited because i am a big fan of the anime. I knew it wasn't going to be amazing or win any awards but i still wanted to get it because i watch the show and since i have low expectations i cant be too disappointed. Should get here today!!!!

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