The Last Blade (known in Japan as Bakumatsu Rouman: Gekka no Kenshi, loosely translated to "Bakumatsu Romance: Swordsman of the Moon Luster", and known in Korea as The Last Soldier) is a 2D historical-fantasy weapon-based fighting game developed and released by SNK for arcades (running Neo Geo MVS hardware) on December 5, 1997.
Set in mid-19th century Japan, The Last Blade chronicles the tale of Kaede, an avid swordsman seeking to avenge the death of his master by his foster brother Moriya, only to find out that a gate between the human world and the demon world has risen.
The game borrows many elements from the mid-'90s entries of SNK's other historical-fantasy fighting game series Samurai Shodown, including a control scheme accustomed to weaponry and multiple gameplay styles (one for rapid combos and one for heavier strikes). It would receive a sequel a year later, titled The Last Blade 2.
The game was later released for the Neo Geo AES on January 29, 1998 and was ported to both the Neo Geo CD on March 26, 1998 and Sony PlayStation on February 25, 1999 (exclusive to Japan). The original game was digitally re-released by D4 for the Wii (via Virtual Console) on June 7, 2012, and by SNK Playmore (ported by DotEmu) for the PC (via Steam) on August 31, 2016. It was included in some Humble NEO GEO Bundles starting in late 2015 for the PC, Mac, and Linux (both downloadable, with ROMs included, and on modern browsers). The game was also included alongside its sequel in the 2006 Japan-exclusive Bakumatsu Rouman: Gekka no Kenshi 1+2 compilation for the PlayStation 2.
The game is a typical 2D fighting game with characters from the Edo period. Unlike many fighting games, you use weapons as your attacks. Each character is outfitted with their own type of weapon or fighting style. The characters must battle there way through each fighter and then confront a final boss and are awarded their own personal ending.
The game consists of two fighting modes, Speed mode which allows players to chain several attacks that will build up your meter for a desperation attack or build a speed combo. Power mode allosw you to attack harder but the build up for your special takes longer. However, if you are able to fill the bar you can perform a desperation attack that does a great amount of damage to your opponents
The button layout is weakest attack (A), stronger attack (B), kick (C), and deflect (D). Using the D button, players can interrupt otherwise damaging attacks by stunning their opponents, leaving them open for an attack. You may also perform "cancel" moves into your desperation moves.