Since the Cartoon Network’s continual ratings climb as the go to network for anime style animation, the American kids have really eaten up Shonen Jump’s Bleach, which is currently rated as the network’s highest rated show. The story of Bleach centers around a boy, Ichigo Kurosaki, who becomes infatuated with a girl who is actually a Soul Reaper. Sega faithfully continues the story introduced in the series with Bleach: Shattered Blade for the Nintendo Wii.
Shattered Blade’s Episode Mode allows you to choose the game’s story perspective by choosing Ichigo’s story, Captain Toshiro Hitsugaya’s story or Renji Abarai’s story. Playing the game and beating levels allows you to unlock new character storylines, which add to the overall replayability of the title. The overall theme of the story is Ichigo and a number of other familiar faces from the show are in a quest for the shattered blade that leads them to a mysterious enemy that surfaces in the end.
The most important thing in any fighting game is the control mechanics. Since this is a Wii game we were a bit apprehensive about how the developers would use the Wii Remote, but thankfully they’ve done a good job and Shattered Blade’s controls are quite responsive. Instead of the traditional pushing of button combinations in juxtaposition with D-pad movements, you’ll use the Wii Remote in the way you would swing an actual sword. Performing upward slashes, forward stabs and free swings become second nature as you turn and flick your Wii Remote as if actually performing such maneuvers. The Nunchuck attachment allows you to move your character freely while also blocking and quick forward lunging steps. Shaking the Nunchuck when you fill your meter allows you to unleash a special move that includes an intense transformation sequence. While cool the first time, it would have been nice to be able to skip this sequence as the visual flair looses its steam and breaks the momentum of the battles.
In addition to the Episode Mode Shattered Blade includes an Arcade Mode that allows players to simply battle through the lineup of characters (if unlocked in the Episode Mode) like a tradition two round fighting game. Training Mode allows players to hone their skills by providing an arena to practice your Wii Remote flicking. Thankfully, the developers included a Versus Mode so you can play a few rounds with your friends, but unfortunately there are no online multiplayer modes. Finally, there’s a Shop called Uruhara where you can spend points earned in the Episode Mode to unlock art and character profiles, but other than that it’s a pretty limited feature.
Shattered Blade is one of those games that’s fun at first, but becomes quickly stale after you master the few moves that your characters have at their disposal. The special moves are really cool to look at and make your character seem invincible, but after the first few times they become tiresome and almost a chore to perform. Also, the difficulty level seems to be all over the place and never make much sense. For example, one of the second battles in the Episode Mode seemed extremely difficult to pass, while the third and fourth fights were a breeze. It’s this level of difficulty that is unpredictable and doesn’t follow a ramping difficulty model.
The graphics are on par with any cell shaded game developed for the Wii. The cell-shaded models look and feel like the characters from the anime and manga series, but the backgrounds could have used a bit more development. Fans of the series will definitely be pleased that Sega worked hard to capture the essence of the TV series.
Bleach: Shattered Blade for the Nintendo Wii isn’t an outstanding game, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction for fighting games utilizing the Wii Remote functionality. Fans of the series will be pleased that the crux of the series remains true to the television anime and actually continues where the show left off. If you’re looking for a more in depth fighter with a complex combo system and ramping difficulty then you may want to steer clear of this title.
- Score: 7.5
- Bleach: Shattered Blade remains faithful to the television series and offers tight controls utilizing the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. However, a lack of variety in character moves, an overly used special move sequence and no online multiplayer add up to litte replayability value.
— J. Thomas