Bushido Blade: Mortal Combat, the Honorable Way


Bushido Blade is not an RPG, but it is on my top-three list of games Square ever created. It is easily one of the most subtle and nuanced fighting games ever produced.

Unfortunately, it only ever saw one sequel, which didn’t live up to the original in my opinion, and both were only available for the original Play Station.

Contrary to most fighting games where you have a health bar to determine how close you are to defeat, any attack had the potential to be a one-hit kill. It was also one of the first, and still only, fighting games to incorporate body-specific damage.

While a katana through your bowels will kill your character instantly, a solid cut to the arm or leg would cost you the use of that appendage, leaving either your attacks slower or reducing you to nothing more than a crippled ninja crawling around on one leg.

One-hit kills can be common, but the proficient player will suffer them rarely. Bushido Blade is very technical. Triangle, Circle and X are used to attack high, middle and low, respectively. Further, R1 and R2 are used to raise and lower your stance, giving you three new attacks with each stance. Square, when timed properly, blocks and deflects enemy attacks.

In conjunction with the directional buttons, special moves and combinations can be unleashed upon your enemies by the proper sequence of attacks.

In addition to that, there are eight different weapons to choose from – each with its own unique properties and attacks. Although there are only six characters to choose from, each specializes in one or two weapons and possesses special attacks available only when you are wielding that weapon.

Once the mechanics are understood, the game simplifies greatly. One of the biggest drawbacks to the game is its simplicity, however. There is only one unlockable character who is allowed the use of just one weapon, and it is ungodly hard to get him although his weapon is just as deadly as he is hard to unlock. There are also multiple endings for each character and secret bosses that are overly complicated to get to.

Despite these flaws, this game should have established a solid franchise. Oddly, most of these problems were fixed in the sequel but the controls were tweaked in the process, losing the nuance that made the original shine.