|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Treasure||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 9, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
When you sign on for the first time, you are given 1000 points and a level ten ranking. It is up to you to set up ranked matches to raise your level. You can also set the rules and match settings, such as whether you will allow certain special power-ups or how a winner is determined.
But let's say you're not the competitive type. There is also a free play mode and a friends-only mode where you can just invite your friends to play a few rounds with you. Honestly, this online functionality blew my mind. Bleach: The Blade of Fate has the most extensive online capabilities that I have ever seen on a handheld. I was very surprised by how much it reminded me of playing games like Gears of War or even the multiplayer mogul Halo. It really is that level of intricacy. And I'm sure that several of you reading this are very skeptical of this, but I challenge you to rent this game or borrow it from a friend. You'll probably be just as surprised as I was.
Now that I have introduced you to the many amazing and surprising ways that you can play this little handheld game, let me give you some insight into how the battle system works. On the surface, you'll be doing a lot of button-mashing. However, the touch screen provides several shortcuts to perform special moves which are powered by spiritual power accumulated throughout battle. You will also have access to what are called "spirit cards" through the touch screen. These cards change certain status ailments and do everything from limiting your opponent's ability to jump, to increasing your defense, even swapping spiritual power with your opponent. In total, there are more than 100 of these Spirit Cards, and each one can be played strategically to boost your chances of winning.
Graphics in this game are also very good and ditch the sprite-based approach (as seen in the two Jump games for the DS) in favor of a more streamlined 2-D approach. The result is a better visual representation of the characters from the anime. The only parts of the graphical content that are a little below par are the various stages, which look very bland and almost identical. But everything else is constructed so well in this game that I can totally forgive a few bland stage designs.
Overall, I can't stress how much I was really surprised by this game. Though I am an avid anime fan, I really don't expect too much from anime games, and I'm only wowed by one very occasionally. But this game exceeded all expectations I had, not only for an anime game but for any handheld title. It's multitude of modes coupled with the great gameplay and ultra-immersive online modes really make this one stand out from the crowd! I can honestly say that I highly recommend this one!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer