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Bleach: Dark Souls Review

Treasure are at it again with the follow up to the best one-on-one fighter on the DS; this is Bleach Dark Souls. Similar to SEGA and Nintendo’s 16 bit rivalry, Bleach and Naruto are the current rivals of the Japanese franchise world. Both are particularly violent tales of kids with a lot of power and their struggles with it but typically, Bleach is the more violent option and everything about it shouts, “fighting game!” So it’s quite prophetic that SEGA should jump on the Bleach bandwagon because it couldn’t be more at home there.

The game is set directly after the first game with Ichigo successfully rescuing Rukia from execution (spoiler) and the preparations for Ichigo and his friends’ journey home is being prepared. During this time, Rukia runs off on her own and it’s up to Ichigo to go and find her again. Typical. The game’s storyline does progress and introduces an evil scheme with the hollows but its’ function is merely in place to allow as many different varieties of fights and mini-games.

The has a variety of games modes including the usual story, arcade, versus and training modes. The game also includes the original feature; the deck construction kit which allows the gamer to customise a deck of cards used for boosting certain skills and penalising opponents. The deck construction has had the biggest improvement from the previous game as its’ use is better implemented into the story mode. Without using it some of the missions will be impossible to complete.

Gameplay is as solid as ever. Each character has 3 types of attack as well as special moves and the flash-step which allows for quick movement at the expense of some of your special bar. Super combos and specials can be executed with the correct input on the controls or using the touch-screen to simply select them. Your cards are also activated by the touch-screen with 4 available at once with rest becoming available as each are used. Everything about Dark Soul’s gameplay is fairly simple to learn but like all great games, difficult to master. Unfortunately, not an awful lot has been added to change the gameplay in any way which is not a bad thing as the gameplay is superb, but it makes the game feel like an expansion pack and not a sequel.

The game’s big additions come with the addition of 16 new fighters and a revised story mode. The story mode is tackled by selecting missions from a map with more becoming available as they are completed. Some missions earn you keys in order to unlock new routes to different missions and unlockables. The missions vary from the standard one-on-one fights to destroying a number of hollows, dodging slime that seeps through the ceiling, answering Bleach trivia with an opponent who attacks to guard his/her answer and much more. The variety of missions don’t just add replay value but they also help sharpen your fighting skills as they are used as more of a learning tool than throw-away extras.

Sound has also greatly improved over the original with clearer voice samples and sound effects making great use of the DS’s hardware. The music doesn’t impress as much mainly due to the fact that most of the tracks are recycled from the previous game albeit a new introduction theme (that is also quite dodgy).

The presentation of the previous Bleach game was very high quality and similarly to that title, Dark Souls hasn’t changed much. The stages are well drawn (and there‘s a lot more of them), the character sprites are large and detailed and the menus are easy to navigate with either the DS’s control pad or the touch screen. However, like the game’s music, not an awful lot has been done to improve on this. As the saying goes, don’t fix what isn’t broken.

Either way, Bleach Dark Souls is a fantastic addition to the series and further cements itself and the best fighter the DS has to offer. You better get 2 copies because a lack of promotion for this title looks like it’s going to become an obscure one and we all know what happens to obscure Treasure games; *ka-ching!*


Written by Sonic Yoda on 24/03/2009



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