Picking at the bloated carcass of geek culture...occasionally!!!

Bushido Blade

In Video Games on January 14, 2010 at 3:10 am

I had a plan to write a whole post about my experiences playing the new Super Mario Bros. Wii with my wife.  I sat down to do it.  Then, I saw a comment from Greg about a post last week, mentioning that there should be a new Bushido Blade for XBOX 360.  At that moment, I knew I had to write about that.  Not a new Bushido Blade, but how much I was enamored by this masterpiece from the Playstation days.  It was a fighting game unlike any that have come before or after it.  Despite its now blocky, crude graphics, relatively unresponsive controls, and no-frills presentation, it is the game I wish I could play right now.  I don’t mean, “I wish I could play a game like that in this day and age.”  I mean, “right now at 1:14 AM with someone else next to me, attacking each other with ferocious abandon, entering into a part meditative state, part catatonic episode as we play until dawn, sharing no words but a shared appreciation for each others strict adherence to video game bushido.

For those poor wretches who don’t know, Bushido Blade was a 3-D fighting game right during the heyday of Playstation 1.  Strictly speaking, it was a fighting game, with two characters facing each other with melee weapons, fighting until one guy died.  Sounds pretty basic, right?  Well, what made the game unique was its brutally quick, relatively realistic bouts.  You see, it was a game involving samurai fighting, with katana, no-dachis, and other, weirdly place European weapons like broadswords and sabers.  There was no health bar or wearing down of the other guy’s energy.  If you got one clean attack on the other guy’s torso or head, well, that was it.  One dead guy and one winner.  If you got a glancing blow, or hit an arm of leg, you had a severely gimped opponent, limping and flailing around as his opponent circled around to finish the job.  There were no spinning, axe-kicks or sonic, energy blasts.  No supermove charge-ups or in-game character substitutions.  Just two opponents, face-to-face in a battle with no room for error.  It was amazing.

Besides being a great fighting game, Bushido Blade fulfills the very niche lumberjack sim fans

There were nights in college where I would play a few hundred of these fights in a row.  Sometimes the battles were super-fast, with me and my roommate charging at each other in an attempt to get a kill using surprise.  Often, however, it was a tense showdown, with one foe circling around the bamboo forest, looking for the right angle of approach while the other patiently waited, switching stances to best counter his opponent.  It was really, really amazing.  Almost a transcendent gaming experience the like I really haven’t experienced since.  Okay, sure.  Some of the character outfits were nutrageously cheesy, often evoking a weird superhero vibe for no good reason.  And, yes, sometimes the fight were kinda ridiculous, with some poorly animated dudes running around in circles missing each other laughably with swords.  Despite it warts, Bushido Blade and its sequel were a breath of fresh air to tired fighting genre.

Which comes back to the original point.  Why has there been no Bushido Blade in so long?  I like to imagine how great this game could be today, with new emphasis on better graphics and tighter game control.  Such a thing seems like such a minor endeavor in this era of Triple-A, multimillion dollar games.  I want a game like Bushido Blade that not only changed my idea of a fighting game, but of gaming in general.  I know I’m not the only one.

  1. absolutely. This was the last fighter I ever played, partly because no subsequent fighter could live up to it. I think an HD bushido blade with sensitive controls would be unbeatable. The first two had limitations because of resolution (hard to make a pinpoint attack on your opponent’s throat when the throat is sort of a blurry mess that connects the blurry head to the blurry body.) Today I think you could make a game that was more about precision and reflexes than flailing. Although I was always surprised by the subtle differences between a really good player and someone who just picked up the controller for the first time.

  2. So true, Noah. You and Zach and I would play this for hours. It was a great buy. Maybe more than we Haloed.

    What always amazed me was that, after awhile, you automatically knew which stance was best to counter with depending on what your opponent chose: low, medium, high. I loved that. I also loved cutting down the bamboo as you were fighting.

    Scott, you forgot to mention how some characters had throwing knives and if you timed it just right, you could whip out your throwing knife right away… instant kill. Very satisfying… Although not as satisfying as when you would leap off the line and get that one cut/one kill, especially after some pre-bout trash talking.

    Another sign of it’s old-age? If you played 100 bouts, the counter would only go to 99 and then flip back over to 00.

    Great game.

  3. Tangent: Left for Dead 2? I have never had so satisfying an experience as hundreds of zombies running onto my chainsaw. Fantastic.

  4. Excellent post! I have very fond memories of Bushido Blade – it has to be one of the most tense games ever made. Not to mention comical – i.e. when both characters were reduced to hobbling around, flailing wilding at each other (although this didn’t happen very often – usually I’d be killed in the first five seconds).

    I’ve earmarked Bushido Blade for the list I’m compiling at http://101videogames.wordpress.com – look out for it! I’ll add you to my blogroll 🙂

  5. I remember my favorite kill now. facing off, no swinging swords or running, just eyeing each other, and then a short, conservative thrust that just grazes the opponent’s throat. It looked so weirdly cinematic. Whoever first animated that must have patted him/herself on the back.

    • Didn’t one character have a pistol for his throwing weapon? I think we outlawed it eventually, but it was still pretty funny to Indiana Jones somebody

  6. I finally got mentioned in a Daily Scott Brown post!! At least I think that you meant me in regards to the long college nights spent playing this classic. Truly a great memory from a great time of life. Keep them coming.

    • Well, since it was your Playstation and your game, of course I was writing about about Jefferson Hsu.

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