July 26, 2007 - Being the import nuts that we are (or that I am, to get a bit more personal) IGN has shown off a fair amount of coverage for both Bleach Wii and DS. Bleach DS has already seen a sequel in Japan, and on the Wii side of things we brought you video and a hands-on report within a week of the game's overseas release. Case in point, we're ready to get Bleach in America, and more importantly, in English. Luckily for us SEGA was ready to give us just that, as Bleach: Shattered Blade was playable (along with its DS counterpart) at this year's Comic-Con in San Diego. We went hands-on with the game again, and this time we had a barrage of reader questions to have answered as well.
For starters, Bleach: Shattered Blade isn't a "follow the USA story" kind of game; it's a straight port of the Japanese release. This means that while Bleach may not be as far in America as it is over in Japan, you're still going to get all 28 fighters with each of their extra costumes, tons of concept art and fan-service bonus features, storyline pieces that may go above and beyond what the worldwide crowd knows outside of Japan, and most importantly you'll get fighters that may not be in the English story first. You asked, so we passed the question along. Bleach Wii is for all the import nuts out there that wanted Bleach but didn't want to worry about the Japanese text, and SEGA is bringing the full game to the US with no changes made (aside from localization, of course).
In addition to the character and story issue, SEGA mentioned that all the English voice actors have been brought on to give the Bleach series the right debut on Nintendo's console. Everyone from the show that had speaking lines in the Japanese game (which would be the majority of the cast) will make a return.
As for the gameplay, Bleach Wii is actually a bit stronger than we remember it being when importing it. Perhaps it's because we know what's going on, or perhaps we just had really high hopes after playing the DS version, but the speed and accuracy of the control is pretty solid overall. Players can swipe left/right, up/down, or jab inward to pull off specific moves. Combine those motions with the A button for harder attacks that cause critical strikes, or hold down B to do projectile or "special" attacks for each of the motions as well. When stringing the attacks together you'll notice openings in your opponents defense (perhaps as they try to counter with a heavy strike of their own), and can then initiate some of the grander A or B button attacks for custom-made combos.
All movement is handled with the analog stick, having the C button sprint even faster, and the Z button for blocking. Rather than using a "step left, step right" button system a simple press up or down on the analog stick will cause the player to run deeper or shallower in the 3D arena. It makes the action quick, and the ability to actually dash around and behind an opponent a reality. It's still technically an always-facing 3D fighter, but with the 3D space being used in a faster, more intuitive way it gives it a blend of Clash of Ninja teamed with Powerstone. Not bad.
As another huge aspect of the game, players can charge up their special bar and power-up just like in the actual Bleach anime, using a sort of soul charge to unleash a time-based super mode where all critical and special attacks change, and where new weaponry becomes available. A quick shake of the controller can cause a player to warp instead of run, grow a gigantic snake as a long-distance melee weapon, or turn into an angelic being, pulling off devastating attacks that threaten obliteration in mere moments.
We'll have to wait until we get the final English build of Bleach Wii in our office, but from what we've played thus far the game has some serious potential as the franchise's premier fighter on Wii, and even though it's a bit on the shallow side (fights are 1 vs. 1 only, and basically it's about powering up until you use your uber special attacks) it's still a decent fighter on Wii, and more than just a mindless waggle-fest.
We'll have more on Bleach Wii as we near its fall release, but until then be sure to check out the latest media in our gallery below.
Thanks to IGN.com for sharing the news with us!