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Bushido Blade
  


  

STORYBushido Blade takes place on an island near the southern mountains of Japan. A five hundred year old dojo known as Meikyokan lies within this region, and teaches the disciplines of the master Narukagami Shinto. A society of assassins known as Kage also resides within the dojo. Once led by the honorable swordsman Utsusemi, he lost his position to Hanzaki, another skilled member of the dojo, in a fierce battle. Hanzaki gained respect as the Kage leader, until he discovered a cursed sword known as Yugiri. He began to change, disregarding the groups honor and the traditions held by its students.


One day, a Kage escapes the confines of the dojo with its secrets. Several other members of the society, under penalty of death, are sent to dispatch the defector, only catching up to him (or her) within the ruins of the surrounding Yin and Yang Labyrinth Castle. The player takes on the role of the escaped assassin, fighting his or her way out by killing comrades one by one. The game story differs with each character selected.
  


Actually one of PS1's better fighting games in 1997-1998.

   
REVIEWBushido Blade introduced a fresh concept to the 3D fighting game genre, offering a "realistic" approach to weapon based combat. Square decided to completely do away with a staple of nearly all fighting games - Life Bars. That means, with one good slash of a katana, a fight could be won. This concept definitely brings along some unorthodox gameplay, but one can't argue that it makes sense considering we're dealing with legit samurai and live blades in the mix.
     

Select your weapon. . . You've got options!

  
Another original idea that Bushido Blade introduced is the ability for all characters to use all 8 weapons featured in the game. The selectable weapons are as follows: katana, nodachi, long sword, saber, naginata, rapier, broadsword, & sledgehammer. Each character also has 3 different stances (high, mid, and low) where several different attacks can be thrown from (sometimes differing slightly from character to character).
 
Furthermore, some attacks can only be done with specific character and weapon combinations! A cool element in terms of gameplay... and fun for new players to discover. The building blocks of any great fighting game, right? While this was more exaggerated in fighting games to come... sadly, Bushido Blade suffers from many characters sharing the exact same moves and animations. That said, the visual stimulation of the animation can quickly get repetitive to watch.
 
 
 

Dramatic story mode scenes... Presentation!

 

One of Bushido Blade's most distinctive elements is the game's incorporation of the Japanese honor code of Bushido. During the game's innovative Story mode, players are encouraged to battle honorably by adhering to certain rules within combat. Actions such as "attacking from behind" will result in an automatic game over (after some battles)... no cheap shots allowed! This gives the player a unique purpose and direction when thrown into battle. Cool idea, right!?


Bushido Blade's
gameplay also features free-running (360 degrees) around the 3D environment... yes, environment. There aren't really any "stages" in Bushido Blade. Instead, combatants fight it out in a landscape featuring  various paths which open new areas. Basically, if you don't feel like fighting your opponent in your current location, you can always run away and fight somewhere else! (It's pretty fun in 1-player mode). The free-running element is quite entertaining for a while, and even adds quite a bit of strategy to the game as well... those over-the-shoulder / behind-the-back running slashes are damn effective (but are strongly against the code of Bushido). Heh. The environments are also compellingly interactive, with bamboo trees you can cut down, higher places to climb onto, and more. "Discovery" is a unique aspect of Bushido Blade that some other fighting games don't really dive into so much.
 

Survival mode was crack. Absolute crack.

 

In addition to Bushido Blade's single player Story mode, the contains a 2-Player Versus Mode, Practice Mode, and a pretty interesting "First-Person Vs. Mode" which can be enjoyed with two local players by using two TV sets. Also included is a cool 1-player bonus mode called "Slash Mode" pitting the player against up to 100 enemies, one after another. As cool as Story mode is, I personally enjoyed this particular mode just as much, if not more than the other main modes of the game. This "Survival"-like mode was a perfect way to get good at the game and become a master of it's mechanics, making all other modes easier. While some aspects of Bushido Blade get repetitive... the "ouch factor" kept me playing and enjoying a variety of cool-looking death animations, with solid visual collision detection where it counts.


For a 1996 fighting game on PlayStation which got a fair amount of buzz around it, you can't really ask for much more. Bushido Blade is a gem. However, there are some flaws worth pointing out. The biggest flaw of Bushido Blade might be the graphics. The environments, though generally "pretty" and immersive for the time, do appear very pixilated (and hurt the eyes a bit). The in-game blood also looks more like pixilated fireworks, or confetti than it does blood. The effect adds a fair share of quirkiness to the seriousness of the battle. Secondly, the animation has its moments of resembling authentic Japanese swordsmanship... but there are quirky imperfect moments, like characters jumping with straight legs (similar to Mortal Kombat games).


Another potential "flaw"
there are only 6 main characters, giving the entire game a "lonely" feeling. On the bright side, there is one unlockable character available in Versus mode.., and 5 non-playable hidden characters than can be encountered in the main 1-player mode (or perhaps later accessed with game hack devices). Two of these cpu-only characters only reveal themselves if a player can complete the game and achieve the alternative ending. (To do this, you must select the appropriate character and also the following: #1 Do not take any damage, #2 Reach the well before the fourth battle, and #3 do not break the Bushido Code.) For players just wanting to just jump in mashing buttons and killing everything that moves, it's a big ask. The game requiring "Bushido" rules perfectly fits the title and is a unique aspect, but this might frustrate some potential players early on. I for one give the designers credit for their artistic direction and boldness to try something new in the fighting genre.
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Page Updated: May 19th, 2024
Developer(s): Squaresoft / Lightweight
Publisher(s): Square Co. 
SCEA 
Designer(s): Tetsuo Mizuno
Platform(s): PlayStation
Release Date(s): Mar. 14th, 1997      
Sept. 30th, 1997     

Feb. 1st, 1998         
Characters Kannuki, Mikado, Tatsumi, Red Shadow, Black Lotus, Utsusemi, Katze
Non-Playable Characters Hokkyoku Tsubame, Sanzaka, Takeru Hongou, Hanzaki, Kindachi

Featured Video:

Related Games: Bushido Blade 2, Soul Blade, Soul Calibur, Battle Arena Toshinden 2, Battle Arena Toshinden 3, Last Bronx, Star Gladiator, Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi, Mace: The Dark Age, Last Bronx, Fighters Megamix, Bloody Roar, Mortal Kombat 4, Tekken 3, Golden Axe: The Duel
  

Gameplay Engine  8.0 / 10
Story / Theme  7.5 / 10
Overall Graphics  6.5 / 10
Animation  7.0 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  7.5 / 10
Innovation  9.0 / 10
Art Direction  8.0 / 10
Customization  8.5 / 10
Options / Extras  7.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  6.0 / 10
Replayability / Fun  7.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  7.5 / 10
Characters  6.5 / 10

BOTTOM LINE

 7.8 / 10

    

 

Final Words: Bushido Blade was an innovative and classy weapon-based fighting game on PS1. I was happy to have his title in my PS1 library and (surprisingly) put many hours into it. The free running mechanic, unique "1-hit-kill" gameplay element, open 3D environments, and characters who can use all of the different weapons made this game stand out!

Considering Bushido Blade's competition in the fighting genre in 1997, the game still left some things to be desired in certain areas... specifically graphics, character designs, story, and overall content. (Thankfully, the sequel Bushido Blade 2 improved upon those aspects!) The animation quality has its iffy moments, but for the most part - Bushido Blade game has decent ouch factor. The ultra-pixilated blood is also hilarious but gives the game that iconic PS1-era charm.

While not necessarily designed to be taken too seriously as a "competitive" fighting game, Bushido Blade's highly unique gameplay was solid enough and a fun new take on the idea of what a fighting game could be. If you could get past the outdated graphics and blocky (yet charming) PS1-era polygons, Bushido Blade offers a truly unique gameplay experience that no fighting game player or samurai fan should miss out on.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen
 
 

 

   
kannuki-char.jpg (17343 bytes)
            tatsumi-char.jpg (18265 bytes)            utsusemi-char.jpg (17680 bytes)            redShadow-char.jpg (15579 bytes)
 
kannuki-bushido.jpg (19872 bytes)            mikado-bushido.jpg (15580 bytes)            black-lotus-bushido.jpg (12060 bytes)            utsusemi-bushido.jpg (14143 bytes)
 

  Click Here for all Character Artwork!

  

  
mikado-bushidoblade-flute-sketch.jpg (66903 bytes)            kannuki-face-sketch.jpg (110527 bytes)            utsusemi-face-sketch.jpg (108121 bytes)            redshadow-costume-sketch.jpg (62652 bytes)
   

  Click Here for all Concept Sketches!

  
  
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