written by Tadaima
- The Last Blade -
Welcome to a world of sword fighting! You will get to meet some of the best swordsmen on this Earth, or at least on this cart/CD, and you will be one of them also. Grab your joystick firmly and meditate. Ready? Hajime!
The Last Blade is an excellent game. I think it can be asserted without having the audience throwing tomatoes and bottles at you. It takes place in Japan, not so long ago, in a period of time where, it is said, "a new age awakens." Roughly speaking, the main plot is as follows: there is a smart and posh bad guy who wants to take over the world. And it is up to you to defeat him. I could tell you more about it but the little stories, anecdotes and interactions between characters are so interesting that it would be wasting your pleasure in discovering who did what, who killed who et cetera.
Playing the game for the first
Well, I must say it is quite impossible not to be impressed when entering Last Blade's world for the first time. I would even go as far as saying the amazment carries on and on as you play more games against the CPU or your friends. Everything is so striking. You know at once you are playing a premium-quality game. The introduction scene is one of the finest pieces of anime sequence I ever had the chance to watch. Menus are clear and reliable, even the two selection marks on both ends of the lines are extremely well animated. You have a lot of features to toy with: a Story Mode that lets you fight according to the "historical background" of the character you picked up, a Short Mode with no interludes, no introduction and no winning screen, allowing to race through the game like crazy and making the loading times less painful -for those of you like me who happen to play this game on Neo Geo CD-, a VS Mode of course, to challenge your friends, a Survival Mode where you will have to defeat as many opponents as possible in a row, a useful Training Mode to practice your moves, combos and discover every character's fighting style, and of course the Option Menu where you can tweak difficulty, display, round time and points et cetera. There is also a demo viewer, plus some bonus features for you to unlock.
So there you are, at the character selection screen, drooling and stamping the ground with your feet. Here we go for a little gameplay review.
There is lots to speak of... really... You can choose from a variety of fighters, ranging from a samurai using a katana to a little girl wielding a sort of a pilgrim stick, a fisherman, a huge brute fighting with bare hands et cetera... Those characters are utterly interesting, in the way that each and every of them has their own story and do not look artificial at all. For those of you familiar with the Kendo and the Iaido disciplines, there can be found certain references to different sword positions, guards, attacks et cetera... Utterly well detailed, profound and original, the characters have quite a few moves at your disposal, easy to pull of with the help of a very crisp and responsive game engine.
Interesting fighting techniques are proposed in Last Blade: the Power Mode
and the Speed Mode. Power Mode lets you fight like a brute with enhanced damage.
In other words, your opponent will feel pain, lots of pain... The Speed Mode
offers an interesting gaming experience, allowing you to chain certain moves and
combo like crazy. Of course, you do less damage but you're fast as hell! Last
Blade fighters have two super moves at their disposal. Roughly speaking, it
could be compared to DM and SDM in the King of Fighters series. Those super
moves can be performed under specific conditions and give your opponent a huge
blow, dramatically decreasing his life gauge.
Also, one interesting thing to notice is the D button used to "deflect" attacks. Used in various directions, the D button will save your life many times since it allows you to counter then counter-attack your opponent. Blocking is still an essential part but deflecting adds another dimension to the game itself because once under the fire of a crazed opponent, you can still counter attack with the D button, surprise him for a few seconds which will be more than enough for you to split him in two!
This leads us to the characters fighting style. Each of them has a very specific use. You cannot win by simply mashing out buttons and twisting the joystick like crazy. It takes some time to discover which fighter is more likely to fit you well, but once you're through, you'll feel invincible! Even though there are not many fighters to choose from, Last Blade possibilities will keep you home for quite a long time!
Beautiful. Simply beautiful. If we get put everything in the context of the year 1997, that game simply rules. The backgrounds are wonderful and incredibly flooded with details, so well executed and intelligently placed that you tend to think it's for real. Note the little pigeons at Akari's stage, flying away, pecking here and there, the richness of the Port stage with the flags, the steamboats in the distance, the dead leaves around the fighters' feet at Kaede's et cetera.
The characters are, as I said, utterly well detailed and animated. Fluid gestures, rapid animations, mimics, taunts... Everything is perfectly rendered, which makes it difficult to pick a fighter sometimes!
Playing this game on the Neo Geo CD is joy! Soundtracks, sound effects, background atmospheres, sonic ambiance... Very good! The crystal clear quality plunges you deeper into the game and its rich possibilities. Turn the sound off on your monitor and you take fifty percent away from the game's quality. It might be said that sound and graphics are tightly linked in Last Blade and, very honestly, it would be a shame and a waste to play with some background music or simply with no sound at all! Some of the best digits ever on a Neo Geo system.
A wonderful sword-fighting game, with many possibilities, quite a few fighters to choose from and magnificent soundtrack. Definitely a must-have in every gamers' collection!
Last Blade can be found on Neo Geo cartridge and CD.
Important Note: for those of you who, like me, play Last Blade on CD, don't hesitate to turn the "Demo Cut" feature on. You'll save time, you'll save your Neo Geo CD lens's life and you'll gain time!
Tadiama: Is a native of France.
More Reviews of This Game:
by Kazuya_UK/LeeReka/Yamguy - Courtesy of Kazuya's
Collection | Master
List | AES
Price Guide | MVS
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