DS Review: Bleach – Dark Souls

Embrace your inner Dark Soul…

Bleach: Dark Souls on the Nintendo DS brings an exclusive storyline, expanded cast of playable characters and fast multi-plane fighting action for up to four players via Wi-Fi. Players will also build a power-packed Spirit Card Deck and collect power crystals to augment their spirit card powers on the lower screen and dish out moves that will directly affect their opponent’s gameplay. With a burgeoning cast of 44 characters including the ability to play as Hollows, players can spend hours experiencing furious fighting gameplay and unlocking personal character stories all based on the series’ story arc.
I played the last Bleach game sometime last year and quite enjoyed it. I did find it quite tough, but enjoyable nonetheless. Dark Souls seems to have been out in the US longer than over here in Europe, so was the wait worth it? In some ways, yes. Fighting is still hard, but now they’ve introduced Spirit Cards which can affect your opponent like making sure he can’t jump for a sustained period of time and so on. It’s a nice addition, although it does require you to tap the card on the lower screen of the handheld, which when button-bashing a tough opponent…can prove problematic.

So you have to judge when is best to unleash your cards, which is hard in itself since fighting is so fast-paced. I think the game might have benefited more without them so you could focus 100% on the fight and not to touch the screen to select cards in battle; it’s a silly decision that holds the game back a bit. Having said that, you don’t have to use the cards…but they do help due to the overall difficulty of the game, even on Easy…it’s damn difficult.
I did have a few control issues with the D-Pad, since my fingers are so big and the D-Pad is tiny, so moving back and forth quickly became difficult, especially trying to pull off combos by hitting the D-Pad diagonally was hard, but I’m sure younger gamers shouldn’t have this problem. If your fingers are nice and small, there are a ton of combos to pull off that any fighting fan should enjoy. The story mode is fairly standard; AI is incredibly tough to overcome. I did play a few online matches but got my arse handed to me every time. It’s not an easy game by any stretch, so if you are thinking of entering the fighting genre, this may be off-putting…which perhaps the game’s biggest problem is.

But if you played the last game, you’ll feel that Dark Souls is a bit too familiar. That’s not a bad thing; I only wish they kept it like that without the damn cards. I guess it all comes down to personal preference and at the end of the day; fans will enjoy Dark Souls regardless of whatever questionable additions have been made.

The visuals have a nice anime feel to them, although I do think the DS is capable of much more in the graphics department. Voice-acting is cheesy as usual and the music has a nice feel to it that fits the game well.

The Verdict

Bleach: Dark Souls is a great follow-up to The Blade of Fate, although it is a bit too familiar. The addition of cards changes things up a bit, but can prove hard to use when being smacked around. It’s damn hard and may put off newcomers to the genre, while veterans will relish a new challenge. Definitely a must-have for fans of both fighting and Bleach.