Bleach DS 2nd
Like crazy Japanese anime fighting action, and fighting games? Then keep reading!
Fighting games are a rarity on the DS, and the best ones currently aren't available in the United States. One of these excellent games is Bleach: Souten ni Kakeru Unmei. I'm not going to gush about this Treasure-developed gem of an import, mostly because Cody already did that earlier this year. What I will say is that I own it, it rocks, and, most importantly, they are making a sequel. Treasure is again in charge of development, and I'm in charge of telling you why Bleach DS 2nd: Kokui Hichimeku Requiem will be a must-import game for many of you.
Not just for cleaning anymore:
Now that cartoon network has started showing English-dubbed episodes of Bleach, I'm hoping that any of you even remotely interested in anime have checked it out. For those that haven't, the story follows Ichigo Kurosaki, a teenager who has seen ghosts his entire life. One day, a woman named Rukia Kuchiki shows up. She's a shinigami ("soul reaper" or "death god" roughly translated), a warrior dedicated to fighting evil spirits called hollows. Before you know it, and I won't give away how, it is revealed that Ichigo has the capacity to be a really, really, ridiculously powerful shinigami. The rest of the story is well-written, funny when it should be, and has some of the best fighting sequences I have seen in an anime.
Fighting with real soul:
Bleach 2nd looks to be mostly unchanged from the first outing, built on a solid 2D fighting system based on three attack levels (light, standard, heavy), a "dash" move, and the ability to block. To add depth, you have a three-slot stamina bar connected to dashing and powered-up standard attacks, a three-slot spiritual power bar that allows use of super attacks, and the ability to move between two planes on each battlefield. Known updates for the sequel include new characters, new moves for the original cast, and an updated reifu card system. There is also the rumored addition of allowing hand-drawn avatars for online play, which isn't terribly necessary but still a welcome addition.
Here are a few of the confirmed new characters, for those of you who follow the series:
- Kisuke Urahara
- Kira Izuru
- Ikkaku Madarame
- Hanataro Yamada
The most significant upgrade to the sequel is the addition of a mission mode where you are pitted against hollows. Much like the shinigami, hollows are unique beings with abilities ranging from possession to shape-shifting, making for some memorable fights. Actual details on this are hard to come by, but Treasure has a history of making quality beat-em-up games (see Gunstar Heroes), so we could see anything from a simple multi-character battle upgrade to full-blown side-scrolling fight sequences.
A caution and an unforeseen opportunity:
While the localization of the anime opens up the possibility of seeing a U.S. release for Bleach DS 2nd, I just don't think it will happen. This will likely be an import-only title, and that means a bit more of an investment than your standard purchase. Thus, while I'd like to recommend this game to all of you, I will also be honest and say that half the fun in playing a licensed game is loving the source material to begin with. If you fall into this category, or if you like what you read and are looking for a solid 2D fighter for your DS, keep an eye on the import sites and join me in hoping the sequel is everything we want it to be.
The rest of you, hold tight. There will be quite a few of us importing the new game when it comes out, so expect to see quite a few copies of the original popping up on Craigslist, Ebay, and in your local EB/Gamestop. Who knows, one of you may even end up with my copy. Enjoy!