Bleach: Shattered Blade Wii
Published by: SEGA
Developed by: SEGA
Release Date: Out Now
Given the popularity of the various Bleach games, and the Bleach anime of course, that have appeared over the years I was rather looking forward to playing my first Bleach title. It should be noted however that if you have yet to play a Bleach game, Bleach: Shattered Blade, a 3D fighting game, is not the best one to start with and not just because it makes no attempt to introduce you to the characters or anime storyline. There can be no denying that the game is disappointing for a whole variety of reasons and it's difficult to comprehend how anyone, even a Bleach aficionado, could be satisfied with what the game offers.
Bleach: Shattered Blade consists of an Episode mode, an Arcade mode, a Versus mode and a Training mode (which includes a Practice and Tutorial section). Regardless of the mode you choose to play, you'll only ever be participating in a fight. You might think that Episode mode would be a kind of story mode but that isn't really the case. Initially you'll have three episodes to play through (that of Ichigo Kurosaki, Renji Abarai and Toshiro Hitsugaya). There are a total of eight episodes and as you complete one you'll unlock another. All of the episodes are essentially a sequence of fights that have been strung together. The weak storyline for virtually all of these episodes revolves around collecting shards. You'll fight a string of battles with the finale being against Arturo Plateado.
Shattered Blade is a disappointment for a variety of reasons. Each of the game's episodes that you'll find in Episode mode can be completed in less than twenty-five minutes (and a decent chunk of that time is loading times). I'm not that great when it comes to fighting games but even I had no problem on the normal difficulty setting in breezing through the episodes. Those who are better at fighting games will undoubtedly be finished with the Episode mode in less than four hours. Whilst you do have an Arcade mode (there are a total of 32 Bleach characters to play as in total) and a Versus mode for two players, there is no online play which is rather disappointing.
The combat in Shattered Blade works fairly well but it is rather simplistic. The game makes use of the motion-sensing capabilities of both the Wii remote and the nunchuk attachment in a rather basic fashion. At times it simply feels like waving the remote from side to side with the occasional thrust forward is enough to get the job done. The control scheme works but it's not as refined or as advanced as you might have hoped for. Shaking your nunchuk around builds up spiritual pressure which in turns fills up your Bankai gauge. Once filled, you can unleash an unstoppable Bankai power up that can do some serious damage to your opponent. You can also do critical attacks too. Should you and your opponent do critical attacks at the same moment, you'll engage in a rock-paper-scissors type game (using chop, slash and stab actions) with the loser taking a considerable amount of damage. In theory it seems as though it might be interesting but unless you're fighting human opposition it isn't.
The overall presentation of Shattered Blade is rather lacking. The game has cutscenes that aren't really cutscenes. There are times when you are shown a static image rather than a cutscene and it all seems so basic. It's as if you're viewing a storyboard for cutscenes that were scheduled to be inserted but never were. The graphics are dated and don't do the Wii justice at all. In fact the game could have easily been done on any of the previous consoles as far back as the Dreamcast. The biggest annoyance is the load times which are really irritating. The general flow of the Episode mode is broken up because of the loading times. You'll see a loading screen, watch a bit of banter between the characters, watch another loading screen, fight, loading screen, watch a bit of banter and so forth. Surely the developers could have gone directly from the dialogue to the fighting without having to break up the flow with loading screens?
Deaf gamers won't have any problems with Shattered Blade in regards to its deaf gamer friendliness. The game's dialogue is subtitled so you'll be able to follow the small amount of dialogue that is in the game. Comments made during a fight aren't subtitled but this doesn't cause any problems. The game's subtitles are simplistic in that they don't have any character names or portraits placed alongside the text. Thankfully it's never any real problem to figure out who is saying what. The tutorial information is shown in text.
Bleach: Shattered Blade is one of those games that is tough to recommend. As a single-player experience it's far too short and only the most devoted fan of Bleach anime would persevere with it after spending the required few short hours needed to finish the Episode mode. As a multiplayer game it's rather limited with support for only two players offline and no online functionality. The fighting model used in the game is rather basic and the game certainly won't do anything for those who look for a degree of depth in their fighting games. Those who want a game using the Bleach characters where they can take part in a simplistic fight might get some value from it but there are several other Bleach games out there and I strongly suspect they are more enjoyable than Shattered Blade.