Bleach: Shattered Blade Wii Review

When gaming is mixed with highly popular license products, be it movies, programs or in this case anime, they usually don’t turn out to be the best games they can be. Most are usually quickly thrown together and released to be able to maximise the income from the license product. A lot of people won’t even read about the game and will purely buy it because it’s based on their favourite product. Sega bring us the first Bleach game to hit European stores and hope that it will be a big hit, but is it really all that good? That is what really matters at the end of the day as fans don’t want to be ripped off with half-arsed cash-ins.

If you aren’t into anime then there’s a likelihood that you’ve probably not heard of Bleach. It’s a really successful manga and anime that’s slowly becoming as popular as DragonBall Z and Naruto. Written by Tite Kubo, Bleach follows the adventures of Ichigo Kurosaki. Ichigo isn’t just your standard school boy; he’s got the ability to see ghosts of the deceased. He gets mixed up with a girl who goes by the name of Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper (Shinigami/Death God for the Japanese version.) After some events which cause severe injury to Rukia, Ichigo manages to inherit most of her powers and becomes a Soul Reaper himself. This kick starts a long journey for Ichigo and his fellow friends, hunting down evil spirits called hollows.

Shattered Blade’s story mode, dubbed Episode Mode, isn’t actually based on anything that has been featured in either the manga or anime. It’s a brand new story made up just for the game. In reality though, to call it a story would be generous because it’s actually pretty darn poor, hell it’s beyond poor. In story mode there’s a limited selection of the game’s cast of characters. Each one has a short story featuring them. In total they are eight stories to fight (literally and mentally!) through. I know fighters don’t usually have to contain a good story, but when the license product in general has a deep and complex tale, you’d expect the game to contain something similar. If not then just don’t include a story mode. This is how simple the story is and this also pretty much sums it all up for each character. The gist is that your character needs to collect these shards to use its power. A character tells you to collect it and you go about your way meeting other Bleach characters and fighting them to get their shards. After doing a certain amount of fights you finally realise that it’s all a set up, so you then go kick the evil guy’s arse. Yep, that’s the story, multiplied over.

Other modes include Arcade Mode, which is a fight against random opponents, standard stuff that’s featured in all fighters. Versus Mode is the multiplayer section of the game. Training Mode is well… training. These are the basic modes that you can play through. The game does have other features like the Urahara shop, a place where you spend your hard earned pennies on fancy unlockables. The Gallery section goes hand in hand with the Urahara shop as it allows you to view all the stuff you’ve unlocked from the shop, or from playing certain parts of the game. There’s a fair amount to unlock, so fans will have a field trip with that.

Fighting controls for Bleach do make good use of the Wii-mote, but as a fighting game the controls fall short. They really don’t give you that preciseness that a pad would do, which would allow you to get the moves out fast. Because of this it makes the game have a very random feel to it. Sega have opted only to allow you to use the Wii-mote and Nunchuk controller. That means no GameCube or Classic Controller here I’m afraid. The controls are simple enough to learn. To attack you can either swing the Wii remote horizontally or vertically to slash, or poke it forward to do a stab attack. Holding down the A button while swinging will do more powerful but slower critical attacks. If the B button is held down you’ll set off a special move, yet again there is one for each type of slash movement you do.

The Nunchuk side of things controls movement with the analogue stick, blocking with the Z button and quick stepping with the C button. The Nunchuk is also used to charge up your Bankai Meter; just simply shaking the Nunchuk will charge up the bar. The Bankai Meter is very important as a lot of the fights will fall down to who gets to use their Bankai form first. Bankai is releasing the power of your weapon into its final form, giving the user incredible strength. This makes your player do a lot more damage and usually ends up moving faster as well.

Bleach just doesn’t cut it as a fighting game, even in the anime side of things. Naruto and DragonBall Z have both had much deeper fighting experiences than this. The controls are just too wild and shallow. Most people will just shake frantically and be able to kill someone with ease with no thought what so ever. The game can be fun sometimes, but that just eventually wears thin after a few battles and this is all mostly down to the simplistic controls. The depth is kind of there as there are other small titbits like weapon countering and clever dodging skills that add to the game, if only it wasn’t using the wild and crazy Wii-mote control setting.

Cel-shading is used for the game’s graphical effect, mixing in a pencil shadowing technique that you’ve seen in games like the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series. The game doesn’t look great; it’s really more like a GameCube game than anything else. What’s even worse is that there isn’t any widescreen support; this game is 4:3 only, that’s just so wrong in this day and age. At least there is the relief that the game has 480p support.

The full English anime cast is here doing their representation of each character. The voiceover work is acceptable, but there’s no Japanese option here for the hardcore Bleach fans, disappointing when a lot of other anime games are starting to add that feature in. There’s a fair amount of voice throughout the game, even down to some individual sayings when certain characters square off at each other, shame this detail wasn’t put into the controller system.

There really isn’t much else to say about Bleach: Shattered Blade. Just like the game itself, there isn’t much to it. It’s a simple easy to pick-up-and-play fighter that doesn’t have enough depth to warrant it to be played time and time again. There is fun there, but it’s the type of fun that vanishes after a few turns, it just doesn’t keep you entertained for long. If you are a really big Bleach fan then you might get some kicks out of it but really everyone who is interested in Bleach should go check out the other game that was released on the same day as this, I am of course I’m speaking about the DS game, Bleach: The Blade of Fate. That is a much better license product and an awesome fighter to boot. So Bleach fans should ignore this and go buy the DS game instead, you’ll be better off that way.

Another anime game falling into the depths of mediocre.

5 out of 10