Bleach DS review

As a long time fan of the long running anime I knew that this game had to be checked out thoroughly. Although it finally made the jump from Japan to the rest of the world concluding with Europe at the end of February 2008, this took a while to happen as the Japanese version was out about two years ago.I do not own the English version of the game as I imported the Japanese version those two years ago and do not regret such a choice. The initial concept of the game is that is a fighter developed by the much praised Treasure inc. This theme fits the game perfectly as the anime itself focuses mainly on the constant fights Ichigo and his friends must endure in order to save the day. With this in mind the game follows the initial storyline arch which covers roughly the sixty four first episodes. In order to not spoil it for anyone I will not go into details of the story in this review.

The main game play will always revolve around the introductory storyline description followed by battling. In story mode the player cannot choose a character but instead must follow the flow of the story and play with each character through progression. In terms of how the fighting is handled it is done through a mix of normal and special attacks. There are three types of normal attacks mapped to three of the DS buttons and that can be used together to create combos. In order to set off the special attacks a bar at the bottom must contain energy which get charged, while fighting. Then they are the stronger moves that can be used when the player has at least 1 soul icon at the left upper corner, which is charged by fighting too. Both the special and stronger moves can be set off through specific button combinations or by touching the chosen move in the bottom screen.

Another important part of game play are cards which can power up, give a defence boost to the player along with other attributes. These add an element of strategy to the game because getting the right card could turn the tide in a fight. The downside to it is that a player could create a deck of cards with only the strongest card meaning winning would be far too easy. This small flaw was actually addressed in the 2nd bleach game that I played through last year and the system impressed by putting limits in some item usage. The game also has a two surface fighting system which means players can jump from one to another. This might sound pointless but when in fights where there between 4 or more enemies on screen, it is essential to not fight them all at the same time.

As for the modes offered in the game it is to be said that there is quite a few on offer. Besides storyline which is actually quite short and will not take long to finish there are others such as time attack, arcade mode and training. The best part is that the more modes the player plays and finished the more characters become available. In the anime there are quite a lot of characters and the game managed to recreate every move for each major character found up to the end of the story in the game. Each mode is more or less the same as found in other fighting games in that the player fights through rounds until the end. There is also a shop where extras such as new costumes, songs and artwork can be purchased with credits earned from finishing modes.

The best aspect of the game comes in the form of its wifi modes. There is the option to not only battle up to 4 players but it can also be done with just one single cart. Then it gets even better because the fight can be taken online and once again it supports up to 4 players. While online the player can participate in a variety of modes which adds depth to the game. The player can also earn credits based on how well he plays against others online which makes it a bit more competitive. It is truly one of the most interesting wifi DS games I played so far mainly because of how many modes it offers.

In terms of graphics the game also deserves much praise as is delivers an experience almost identical to the anime. There are static cut scenes which deliver the story through text that show detailed drawings of the characters. The animations while fighting is where it works best because once again it is identical to those found in the anime. Also the fighting areas are locations from where the story takes part and so make players feel more familiar about what they are playing. So that the graphics are not there to impress but still can capture the essence of the show in all its glory.

Overall this is a game completely aimed at fans of the anime with all of its many references to it. It does not mean that anyone new to the anime will be lost as it is a solid fighter at its heart. The story mode will not last long and so means that it is ideally best played online and in other modes unlocking all the extras. It is for the fact that the game will not have much longevity that it is a bit of a letdown. However, while it last the story is enjoyable and there is a lot to do in terms of collecting and also taking the fight online.

8/10

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