246: The Last Samurai

TarkXT

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Sep 7, 2009
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The Last Samurai

While most fighting games feature overblown characters with borderline magical abilities, one short-running series offered an unflinching view of weapon-based combat. Jonathan Palmer looks at Bushido Blade and what made the pair of PS1 sword fighting games so special.

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BlueInkAlchemist

Ridiculously Awesome
Jun 4, 2008
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I would love to get my hands on Bushido Blade after reading this. I remember having a passing interest in this when it first came out, but now more than ever a fighting game that has a realistic bent to it sounds both fun and rewarding to play.

Nicely done, Jonathan!
 

Onyx Oblivion

Borderlands Addict. Again.
Sep 9, 2008
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Tell me about wrestling ninjas for food.


The over complicated HUD needs to go. A life bar is enough, I don't need a barrier gauge, heat gauge, character power gauge, and the opponents gauges, too.

*glares at Blazblue*
 

jimtheviking

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Sep 23, 2009
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This was my favourite fighting game of all time; I've still got a copy of it, in fact, and break it out every now and again.

Thanks for reminding me how awesome it is!
 

Dom Camus

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Sep 8, 2006
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Bushido Blade was excellent at the time and I see no reason why such a game couldn't succeed today.

I'm surprised you found all the weapons quite similar, though. For me they were far less so than in conventional fighting games. Taki can block Astaroth's axe, after all, but when a Bushido Blade opponent is coming at you with their Naginata held forward and you're armed with a Saber... well, let's just say there won't be any blocking going on!
 

donssword

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Sep 6, 2009
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Lightweight, in the form of Genki, actually did make a few more next gen sequels that never made it to the US on the PS2 and the XBox, including the reintroduction of 1-hit kills in the later Kengo games. Kengo 3 even received an English translation in PAL territories, and most recently Majesco released "Kengo: Legend of the 9" on the US XBox 360 to lukewarm reviews.

Acquire and Spike have done the most to keep the genre alive in the West with their "Way of the Samurai" series, minus the 1-hit kills.
 

Hurr Durr Derp

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Apr 8, 2009
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I love Bushido Blade.

I'm not sure if this was in BB1 or 2 (or both), but I remember playing 2-player matches like this: Both characters run into each other at maximum speed, causing them to get knocked down. Then, we'd try to kill each other without getting up from the ground, rolling across the floor and aimlessly flailing our weapons around.

As much as I'm a fan of more traditional fighting games with their health bars and combo gauges, I'd love to see a worthy Bushido Blade successor.

The only bad thing about the Bushido Blade games was that the singleplayer mode was way too easy.
 

OmegaXIII

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Jun 26, 2009
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Bushido Blade flew under my radar all the time i had a PS1, yet from what you say i love the idea. It always bugged me how Soul Caliber and the like seemed to treat swords like foam sticks
 

dnadns

Divine Ronin
Jan 20, 2009
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I loved this game back then. A friend got the imported version and we did not really understand what it was about regarding the honor code except by trial and error.
But man, that were good times!

Usually we were going to slay as many ninjas as possible, passing the controller for each couple of waves, but the game really shined in one-on-one combat.

Not only did we play it right after having watched Ninja Scroll (which certainly fueled the motivation for epic fights and the appreciation of being able to cut bamboo), but with this game it was literally possible to have unending fights.
The game mechanics for blocking and having different stances were really complex for the time, but they made that I still remember specific matches we had - even today. One of those took almost an hour and whenever we meet up for a beer these days, anyone of us just needs to mention a "remember the fight at the beach?".

Although I am not into fighting games anymore at all, Bushido Blade still has its own very special spot in my memories. Thanks for reminding me with this great article!
 

BlicaGB

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Jul 10, 2009
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Boy do I miss Bushido Blade now. I remember playing it way back. Everyone was going off about Tekken and to me all I could think was, "Yoshimutsu's sword should kill them all with one, maybe two strikes." and then Soul Calibur and Battle Area Toshinden. I just wanted another game like Bushido Blade that allowed me to try and remain calm and calculating when dueling an enemy. Hoping I could keep my legs and arms safe for those missions that lasted forever. Waiting for that fatal opening, where my own master stroke would end it all. Greatest weapon fighting game ever.
 

Deofuta

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Nov 10, 2009
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Wow, for some reason your negative sayings of it actually made me incredibly interested in this game! I wonder if my local GS would have it... awww PS1? Maybe an emulator then.
 

Drakey

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May 17, 2008
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Yeah, now Ive gotta pop it back in the drive after work. Thanks :p lets see, it was almost 10 years ago I played that game. True words in the article. Watching some of the trailers for some of these 'street fighter' style games can give me a headache. '10 Bazillion Damage!!!' it cries. *Yawn*
 

Frybird

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Jan 7, 2008
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Whats really sad is, while Bushido Blade had that inherent flaw of every victory feeling cheap due to being "one hit", no developer really seemed to be interested to at least look at how fighting games COULD be different.


A Bushido Blade sequel could've, for example, done away with one instant kills, and rather make it a match of who manages to first make enough strikes in a row, throwing the enemy off balance and give the attacker the chance of a killing blow, as well as giving the opponent a last chance to counter it.
Or, if "enough strikes in a row" is too vague, have the characters block semi-automatically and add fatigue in a more traditional way until "killing blows" become possible.


As such, by getting rid of SOME realisim, you could still have a sword fighting game that feels more authentic than any competitor...
 

PatricktheFirst

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Mar 27, 2009
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Ah this brings back fond memory's. I just remember being utterly blown away at the realism in the trailers etc. Its a shame my ps1 has broke and i can't play it anymore.
I would love a new one to come out though, i think people really would buy it.
I never did complete the hall of 100 ninja's :)
 

TarkXT

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Sep 7, 2009
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Onyx Oblivion said:
Tell me about wrestling ninjas for food.
It's hard. First you have to find the little pajama wearing bastards. Then you have to grab them, which is nigh impossible considering how slippery they tend to be. After that you have to avoid their magic, their hidden weapons, and their tendency to flip out and murder everything around them. However I've discovered once you've pinned them down and start stroking their belly they calm down and go to sleep before long.
 

ghaldar

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Apr 2, 2009
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One of my all time favorites. We would play this for hours in the Dorm room with bracket tournes and much fun.
 

Hazzaslagga

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Sep 18, 2009
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This is the sort of game i'd love to play i've even talked to people and asked why there are no decent realistics sword fighting games. The only one that come close is mount and Blade but it's not really quite there
 

Void(null)

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Dec 10, 2008
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Bushido Blade was one of the first games I ever played seriously with my Dad. He always encouraged me to play Video Games, he bought me a NES even before I knew what one was or before they were popular, but he himself never really had the fast reflexes or rhythm to get into them too heavily himself.

Bushido Blade required timing and precision, rather than pattern and speed he seemed to really get into it. We would play matches for hours on end.

Also would play the hell out of this with friends, our two Fighter staples were Bushido Blade and Street Fighter.
 

warrenEBB

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Nov 4, 2008
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feeling a need to chime in an echo a lot of the comments so far.
- i hate fighting games. I was into SF2 and MK, like everyone else, but then got tired of having to keep up with everything. i remember playing killer instinct in an arcade at some point and stepping back from the controls as my opponent executed some sort of seemingly endless combo. Since then I've just hated fighting games.

But I remember when a friend showed me Bushido Blade and explained "you can just run around and stab them in the back, but then the game will be really short, and it'll give you an insulting ending." This gave me a huge grin. The idea of a game that rewards "playing it properly" in this way, still seems sort of unparalleled.
it'd be like finding out there's an alternate 6 hour game in Portal, as long as you never pick up the portal gun. exciting because it's challenging you to grow up a little and take the game's narrative/world seriously.

anywho. I also hope someone resurrects Bushido Blade.