by wagesofsyn


Japanese Title: Gekka no Kenshi
Year: 1999
System: Playstation
Other Versions? Neo Geo: Home Cart, MVS, CD, NGPC


I'm going to upset some people with this statement, but it has to be said: The Last Blade series is what the Samurai Shodown series should've been. I never cared for weapon based fighters, but Last Blade really drew me in from the first time I played it. The fact that it's as good a conversion as Samurai Shodown 4 helps it out a lot, too. Great characters, tight gameplay, and a wonderful anime introduction (that's like 5 minutes long!) make this the best weapon based fighter on the PSX. 



The characters are near perfect of their arcade likenesses, and I prefer the more realistic cartoon look (you know what I mean) to the sheer animated qualities of Haomaru, Ukyo, and the rest of the Samurai Shodown crew. The PSX port of Last Blade has clean, defined characters, with very little left rough around the edges. There are a few idles taken out, but it's hardly enough to really complain about. The backgrounds are extremely well animated, and burst with life and color. Every stage fits their character perfectly, with all kinds of great background effects. 



This is where the game could use a little tweaking, but only a little. Control is a little loose for my taste, but it's still fairly responsive (much better than Samurai Shodown 3, but that's not really saying a lot). There is a slight lag in-between when you perform the button combination for the move and when you'll perform it. Not so much that you can sit and predict it, but enough to tell if you sit there and carefully scrutinize. Load times are fair (infinitely better than the Neo Geo CD version of the game), and each fight sports a small animated "chapter title" before the first round, adding a nice sense of story and direction. Some special moves are a tad difficult to perform, but overall, the learning curve won't take but a few days. 



The music fits the stages and characters perfectly, and sounds full of life. The sound effects and voices could've taken a cue from the music though. In contrast, the superb music doesn't go well with the washed out voices and sound effects. It's as if SNK spent all their budget on re-recording the music and had pocket change left over to translate the sound. The effects and voices are some of the worst on any PSX port, but luckily, the good gameplay makes up for it. 


Final Thoughts 

I've never been a fan of weapon based fighters. The genre never really struck me as all that interesting, and it never made sense how you could seemingly chop someone in two about 50 times during a match, and they would still get up to fight another round. Still, if I had to go with one, it would definitely be Last Blade. Good graphics, interesting and original characters, and solid gameplay (we'll just leave the sound out) make this one of the better PSX ports that SNK's done. 


- John Gillerlain 

Overall: 7.8 / 10


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