Format: Playstation Genre: Fighting Released: 1998 Developer: Light Weight
Playing Bushido Blade for the first time was a very frustrating experience indeed. Your first instinct, as with any fighting game, is just to rush at your opponent, whacking all the buttons in the hope they might fall over. Although this strategy is usually fairly successful in games like Soul Calibur, in Bushido Blade it will get you killed in about three seconds.
Bushido Blade isn’t like other fighting games. There’s no health bar, no time limit and being hit full force with a sword has roughly the same effect as it would in real life – i.e. you die immediately. If you’re lucky, your opponent might only give you a non-fatal wound to an arm or leg, but this is likely to mean that limb will become unuseable. One time, when I was playing against a friend, my character was reduced to shuffling around on the floor, all four limbs rendered useless – it was a bit like that bit with the Black Knight in Monty Python And The Holy Grail, only with samurais and fewer jokes (although with plenty of annoying sniggers emanating from my boastful opponent).
Fights in Bushido Blade were cautious, strategic affairs – the fact that you could die so easily meant that the onus was on defence rather than attack, and you’d often find yourself stealthily circling your foe, waiting for them to make a move and leave themselves open to attack. Using the environment to your advantage was also key – the open 3D levels were enormous and offered huge scope for various ways of attacking. Luring a quick opponent onto a narrow wooden bridge was a often good way to gain an advantage for a slower character with a heavy weapon, and likewise the quicker characters performed better in the open. Like in Monty Python, running away was often the best strategy.
Graphically the game really wasn’t up to much – the character models and environments are bland and blocky, but as my mum always says, it’s what’s underneath that counts. Underneath, Bushido Blade is one of the most revolutionary and unique fighting games ever created, and it’s just crying out for a modern update.
(Screenshots from www.eurogamer.net)