Reviewed: November 27, 2008
Released: October 7, 2008
By now Bleach has become a household name for many kids and adults. It is still one of the top selling animes and a personal favorite of mine. Last year, Treasure and SEGA brought us the best fighter that had ever graced the Nintendo DS. I’ve played a few fighters since then and up until now Bleach has remained untouchable in my book.
But what title could possibly outdo my favorite handheld title. Well you won’t have to look far, since the second verse is so not the same as the first. That’s right, the long awaited sequel, Bleach: Dark Souls slices it way onto the DS with the same style as the original but with an improved look and feel.
The story this time takes place after the events of the previous title. Ichigo realizes that Rukia is missing again and soon finds out that Hollows have infiltrated the Soul Society. It is up to you to help Ichigo and his friends to stop the Hollows before it is too late.
The interface in Bleach: Dark Souls is pretty spot on with the interface from last year’s title with one notable change. The number of spirit cards available to select on the main support screen has been upgraded from 2 cards to four. Last year there was an option to switch back and forth between the “hotspot” keys and the spirit cards screens. This year they opted away from that approach and miniaturized the cards to the left side of the screen as to allow 4 cards to be placed there.
Players still have the option to execute the Special and Super Attacks the old fashioned way or by using when “hot keys” on the touch screen. I still love this feature as I can still only pull off half the specials the old fashioned way.
The way the story is presented is a bit different this time around as it is not presented in episode form but rather a tree effect. By completing a section, either by beating the tar out of the opponent(s) or completing certain mission objectives, like the previous title, you will unlock other paths on the tree. The main challenge is to find out all the different paths.
Besides the Story Mode there are 6 other modes not even including the Deck Construction option. Bleach: Dark Souls features an Arcade Mode, Versus Mode, and a Training Mode and 3 others that return from the previous title. Now most of these are self explanatory, as you see them in fighters all the time. The one that I will go into greater detail on is the Versus Mode.
There are 4 modes to play and up to 4 characters can be used in each. You can play VS CPU (self explanatory), DS Wireless Connection, DS Download Play, and Nintendo Wi-Fi. The DS Wireless Connection can be played with a Single card or Multi-Card, both modes supporting up to 4 players. And last but not least there is the Nintendo Wi-Fi mode.
In this mode you can play people all over the country through a wireless Internet connection. There are three modes available to play: Free Battle, Friend/Rival Battle and Ranked Battle. The Free Battle is where you are pitted up against 3 random people and duel to the death. The Friend/Rival Battle is for users in your Friend Roster and you fight with or against each other. The Ranked Battle is one-on-one fight against players of the same rank. Your rank starts at 10 and increases or decreases depending on the battle results. Players can also send each other little messages, which can be pretty cool at times.
Now onto a topic I briefly mentioned above, the Deck Construction option. The Deck Construction option allows you to create custom card decks or use Character Set Decks. There is a prefab deck for every character in the game. You have up to 5 card deck slots that you can tailor anyway you see fit. Say you have a decent deck to start with, but you don’t like a couple of the cards. Well go in the Deck Construction and take them out and replace them with something you will use.
The graphics of Bleach: Dark Souls are pretty awesome for a DS game. The one thing that myself and others have noticed is that the DS’s potential is slowly being tapped into more and more each day. Dark Souls is definitely proof of that, as it looks loads better than the original, which was impressive even then.
Treasure has pushed the 2D boundaries of the DS with amazing visuals, 3D Camera Zooms for some cool cinematic effects. Treasure has a knack for creating titles that are visually leagues above any of their competitors. This time around they have tweaked the characters and the thousands of frames of code and animation it takes to make them move. They have also incorporated some pretty wicked Bankai animations at are jaw dropping.
On top of all of the upgrades to the existing characters, Treasure has added 17 new characters to the fray for your enjoyment. This means that players can play as some of your favorite Mod Souls, Hollows and the occasional annoying human.
Again one of the first things that really drew me into this title like it did the last one was its opening music. The theme song this time being, “Resistance” with voice started playing and I feel in love all over again. All of the music in this title is top notch and every bits as good as the music from the previous title.
The background music during the fights and all the character sayings are amazing. The character’s voices once again are supplied by the voice actors from the show. Players can also listen and purchase additional voice tracks of their favorite characters, which is pretty cool.
Due to the sheer amount of things to do in Bleach: Dark Souls, you will be playing this one for a while. There is also the fact that Bleach has such a big following right now that there wasn’t a time where I couldn’t find people to fight against using the Nintendo Wi-Fi.
I got the chance to really test out the Wireless Single Card multiplayer mode and am happy to say it was an absolute blast. Fighting games are fine as single player experiences but to be honest we all enjoy beating up friends in video games.
Using the Single Card method players both get to select which character they want to play as, which is rare in handhelds as the non hosts are usually forced to play as a randomly selected character. To top it off the load times are not that bad when it comes to the game downloading on the other systems.
I took me quite awhile to beat all of the different sections, so Bleach is no push over. Bleach: Dark Souls retails for around $30 dollars and it is $30 well spent. This title actually tops the last Bleach title and now stands as my favorite fighter on the DS.
All in all, Bleach: Dark Souls is a well rounded game. It had the “hot key” feature that I love for those of us who fail miserably at those button combos. Being able to play all the characters from the previous title plus several key characters from previous seasons of the show is definitely a big plus. Again this game isn’t a perfect 10 but it’s getting very close. I definitely recommend that you pick up Bleach: Dark Souls as soon as you can. If you're a die-hard fan or you just want a good fighter, then look no further.