Bleach fans rejoice! This game is good!
There haven't been many outstanding fighters for the DS, and many people, including me, have been crying for a good title, finally, our prayers have been answered. Bleach: The Blade of Fate is a fantastic title that you shouldn't write off as "just another anime game".
(Scroll down to the bottom for summary)
The fighting system is really solid. If you have ever played any other fighting game such as Tekken or any of the like, you will feel right at home playing Bleach. With a variety of combos for each character, you can constantly figure out new ways to destroy your enemy. It can sometimes feel repetetive fighting against the AI, but it isn't too much of a problem as you can always find new combos to kill them. With 28 characters in all, although one of them is a clone, you can keep on playing for a long time. And if you do happen to get bored with the AI, there is always the online mode!
The game is also extremely easy to pick up for beginners and this is a plus for when you take advantage of the download play with your friends who don't own the game. The game provides shortcuts to do the special moves on each character, and it helps immensely for the people who have a hard time remembering all the button combinations (like me!)
Lastly, the game also offers slight customization of your character through the use of "Spirit Cards", which are basically cards that you can use in battle to help your character or hinder your opponents. These tie in very well to the formation of a strategy and are very useful.
The game's story mode follows the Soul Society Arc from the anime. For the most part, it stays true to the anime, with the exception of a few of the chapters involving a tournament between the characters and certain parts of the story that were overly simplified. It can serve as a nice refresher to people who have watched the anime and also provides a decent story for people who had always thought bleach was just a household cleaning product.
The sound system for the game is...amazing. On the highest level of volume, it is really, really, loud. The songs and sound effects are all clear and the songs and tunes are enjoyable. The game contains minimal voice acting with the characters having a few phrases for the start of the battle and the end. I'm a sub watcher of the anime so i can't comment on whether the voices are the same as the English dub but I find that they're bearable.
The graphics are very well done, with the sprites achieving a very good look of all the characters. The Bankai sequences are nicely done and the attacks are fairly detailed. The frame rate is generally ok although in those hectic 4 player battles you might experience a slowdown if everybody releases a flashy special attack at around the same time, but otherwise you shouldn't have a problem.
The game's online mode is where it really shines. It supports download play for up to 4 people, local wireless play as well as online play. When you play online, you can either play with people you know using the friend code system, or play with a random person of around your skill level, or a completely random person. You might experience minor lag but it is generally manageable.
You can finish the game's story mode and unlock all the characters in a matter of a few hours, but there are other modes such as arcade mode, survival, time attack that will continue to keep you busy, as well as unlocking all the other things such as sound tests and bonus pictures. And of course, the wi-fi mode means that the game will almost never get old.
Bleach: The Blade of Fate is a great fighter for the DS and even people who aren't fans of the series will enjoy it a lot.
-Good fighting system
-Good sound and graphics
-Good online play
-Is great game for both fans of the series and people who aren't
-Characters are all generally well balanced
-If you have no way of accessing the internet and have no friends with DS, will not get as much out of the game.
-May experience brief slowdowns
-Some fans of the series will be disappointed that not all of their favorite characters are playable.