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A.P.I Review: Bushido Blade 2
Developer: Squaresoft OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Square EA 1-2 Player
Game Type: Beat-em-up Memory Card
Review Date: December 1998 Dual Shock/Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

Last year the original Bushido Blade hit the headlines because of it's innovative gameplay. Realism was the key word as there were no time limits, no health bars, and one solitary thrust of the blade could mean certain death for your warrior. I suppose it was the first real 'simulation' beat-em-up.

Eight months later Square Soft unleashed the sequel and after being confined within the borders of Japan for so many months Bushido Blade 2 recently escaped to make it across to the States just in time for Christmas.


Bushido Blade 2 is a 3D beat-em-up where high-resolution characters hack and slice each others limbs from their torsos until one of them finally drops dead.


The character graphics reminded me very much of the high-resolution fighters from Dynasty Warriors, although thankfully their control was a little more responsive.

Each character is dressed for action and it is amazing how elaborately detailed their garments appear, although quite tasteless in some cases (where do they get those flares from?). They are incredibly well animated and fluid in their movements, especially when the run button is held down.

An additional touch is that you get to select to play in first, or third person perspective. Staring through the eyes of your fighter can be quite harrowing, especially when a razor sharp blade is heading your way. Of course if you prefer the sight of blood then the distant view allows you to watch the rich red fountain explode as the main jugular is sliced open.

Although the character graphics have been improved the scenery doesn't quite live up to the original and suffers from glitching and occasional pop-up. The developers have opted to keep the background shrouded in darkness and shadows with the visibility line a little too close for comfort. Still... I suppose it keeps the frame rate up. The playing arenas are much smaller than last years game and severly limit the ability to pick up a little pace and get out of harms way. More often than not you will probably stand your ground and fight rather than go wandering off through the woods, as I recall experiancing in the original game.

Sounds and Effects

The sound effects are as over the top as we have come to expect from games of this genre. The clash of steel striking steel as your weapons connect is awesome, so crisp and clear. The whoosh of wind accompanies every leap, a thunderous wallop for every blow, while the sound of crunching bones and squelshing blood makes you shudder when the fighters perform their final thrust.

The English voice-overs work, but leave more than a little to be desired, while the title screen and intro remain in Japanese.


Traditionally 3D beat-em-ups have followed a familiar format which involved two outrageous characters going head to head in an enclosed ring or arena. Once either of the fighters had sustained sufficient blows to blank out their health bar - it was 'Game Over'. With Bushido Blade 2, Squaresoft have set about re-inventing the genre.

First to go was the tight confines of the battle arena which has been replaced by a spacious themed 3D level. Rather than always stand ground fighters may now take off into the distance for a well earned breather. Usually your opponent will set off in chase but the playing areas in Bushido Blade 2 are large enough to lose them for a few moments to devise a cunning battle plan.

Dependant on the environment, many interactive elements may be used to your advantage. There are times when the terrain itself can be lethal, as a little misstep can potentially drop a character to their doom. The key to success is to use the terrain to your advantage by choosing characters and weapons which compliment the terrain you are fighting in. For instance, handfuls of sand may be scooped up and thrown into the eyes of your opponent, or they may be pressurized towards the edge of a cliff and then forced over.

Not content with all these changes Squaresoft have removed the traditional health bar. Instead your character gradually takes on wounds until eventually they can take no more pain. Receive a slash over the arm and this limb will be rendered useless and hang limply by the fighters side. A slice through the leg and your character falls painfully to the ground. Of course an direct hit to the trunk of the body or a timely decapitation ends in instantaneous death, which is only fair.

The final major change in style to this genre is the omission of a timing mechanism. There are no time limits to each bout therefore if you prefer to run scared then each battle could last for quite some time. Of course you will soon become bored with running around and much prefer to face each challenge head on.

For this you must quickly comes to terms with the simplistic control system. The game is weapons based of which a choice from swords, daggers and pikes must be made before entering a series of battles. Basic rules of Bushido Blade 2 include: single hit fatality system ("one death blow"), body damage system (where the character is incrementally weakened by successful attacks) and death by fall (character will die if they fall from a location highter than 20 feet).

It's now simply a case of selecting one of the six initially available characters, with 12 support fighters waiting in the wings. At certain points during the game, a support character will jump in for you to control, and if you can keep them alive they'll be added to your character roster. Bushido Blade 2 offers six different game modes. Choose either to battle on your own or have a friend join you.

Story Mode - One player. This is what Bushido Blade 2 is all about. You'll be allowed to select a main character from either the Narukagami or Shainto and then their weapon. Weapon selection has no effect on the outcome of the story but remember, every character has one that they perform well with; make sure you make the right selection. Battles progress in a linear fashion where you must fight though a number of ninja soldiers before confronting a sub-boss. After defeating a number of sub-bosses, the final confrontation with the main boss will take place.

Training Mode - One player. Still trying to get the hang of the game? No need to worry, this is where you'll have the chance to train yourself and see what you are capable of doing. Face an endless line of ninja soldiers as you learn the nuances of the battle system.

Vs. CPU Mode - One player. When there are no human opponents around to challenge, there is always the computer. Fight the enemy of your choice with the weapon of your choice. Also a good way of learning each characterís abilities.

Vs. Mode - Two players. What fighting game would be complete without a versus mode? You and your opponent selects a character and weapon to battle with --- select a battle stage and you two are ready to fight!

Group Battle Mode - Two players. Whose number one? To find out, select the number of entries on each team, the point system and time limit. Then, choose a school and organize the team. (When a player chooses a school, the opponentís school will be selected automatically). Select the order of the characters and the weapons they will use. The same weapon cannot be chosen twice.

Link Mode - Two players. By using two PlayStation game consoles, two TVs, two Bushido Blade 2 Discs and a Link cable, you can enjoy the ultra-realistic Link Mode. Set in its own special stage, this unique feature of Bushido Blade 2 allows two players to get a sense what real sword fighting is like through face to face confrontation in first person mode.

Finally there are a few changes from the original game that are worth pointing out. Rather than three attack buttons there are now only two - the O button executes the 'face' or front attack while the X button does the 'flip' or back attack. Also missing is the defence button therefore you must constantly counterattack in order to block. Better still... make sure that you always get the first blow in. There is also a stance button which offers three different striking positions.

Value for Money

Bushido Blade 2 doesn't quite live up to the originality set by it's predecessor. It's worth checking out if you enjoyed the recent Tenchu Stealth Assassins.

GRAPHICS: 15/20 I was slightly disappointed with Bushido Blade 2. My expectations were high following the original game but the sequel just didn't seem that much fun to play.

I found the early fighters a little short on AI, especially when the fighting arenas were a multi-level design. All you had to do was jump off a ledge, turn around, climb back and then lunge into your opponent every time they attempted to climb back onto your level.

The boss characters offered a sterner challenge but once again, when you realised that they could only be killed from a rear attack it was simply a matter of timing and endless chasing in circles.

Overall, it's certainly worth checking out but I personally prefer Tenchu Stealth Assassins.
SOUND: 7/10
VALUE: 13/20


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