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Best Games - Bushido Blade

One perfect stroke. Perfectly timed. Perfectly executed. That is what we are told wins a sword fight. 
I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever plan on being in a sword fight. It seems dangerous. All ,like, sharp and whatnot. Stabby. I’ll be content with sword fights of the virtual kind.
Most fighting games, even the ones with swords, are not very realistic. I can hit a character in Soul Calibur with a giant axe and they will be back up and swinging a few frames later. It doesn’t seem like that’s how that would happen. Of course I’ve never been in a sword fight, so what do I know.
I have played Bushido Blade. There are no health bars. No timers. No points. In Bushido Blade one slice to the legs or arms will maim. One good slash will kill .  No counters, no reversals. Just stab and then dead. This makes every moment tense. Every button press counts. You can stand out of sword range or attempt to deflect an attack, but really, what you want to do is wait out your opponent and strike when they are defenseless. A match can last several minutes or a few seconds. 
Input in Bushido Blade is incredibly slow and deliberate. That might sound like a bad thing. Most fighting games benefit from snappy responsive control. The slow control is part of the game's design. You can’t mash buttons in Bushido Blade. You can’t jump in on your enemy. Nothing but steady precise attacks will win. The controls in Bushido Blade are telling you to slow down, focus, be patient, be decisive. Be a Samurai. Or at least pretend like you are a Samurai.
Bushido Blade isn’t the sort of game that gets played at tournaments. There aren’t going to be many master level players out there. There is a level of luck involved in the outcome of a fight. Skill alone won’t win. It just depends which player blinks first, strikes slowest, or misreads the opponent. Long stalemates are as common as instant wins. It’s not the best fighting game. What it is, is uncompromising.
When Bushido Blade was developed, the fighting game genre was in full swing. If you were looking to make a new one, there were many strong examples to “borrow” ideas from. Bushido Blade carved its own path. It’s a path that I don’t think any game will ever wander down again.
Games are made to be enjoyed. There are a lot of aspects of Bushido Blade that are not enjoyable. Stiff controls, impossibly high penalties for failure, and a singular focus that is almost adversarial to a casual player. There are a lot of aspects of Bushido Blade that would never pass a focus group or play testing. The game would be labeled “not fun” and that would be that. 
What is here though, is incredibly compelling. You want to play round after round. You want to try different tactics, different weapons. You want to change up your attacks and play with adjusting stances. It’s a game that you want to play. You want to understand how and why it was made. How an idea so pure and uncompromised made it to release as a commercial product.
In spite of itself Bushido Blade is an excellent game and a really good time. There is some developer out there right now trying to capture that magic in their own uncompromised vision, and I wish them luck. Maybe they will be able to execute with one perfect stroke.
Bushido Blade is one of the best games.
 

This post is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 by the author.
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