Sega has done some great work with the Bleach license and Bleach Wii: Hakujin Kirameku Rondo lives up to their standard. Bleach Wii is set during the arrancar arc in the manga. The game has an original storyline where a new arrancar named Arturo was designed for Sega’s game and he is the final enemy at the end of each character’s episode. What separates Bleach Wii from any other Bleach game out there, is how you play the game. Bleach Wii uses the remote to act out swordplay instead of hitting buttons. How does it work? Read on to find out.
There are three basic types of remote motions you need to use in Bleach Wii, a horizontal sweep, a vertical slash and a quick thrust. Whatever motion you do with the Wii remote is represented on screen, so if you swing the remote from top to bottom Ichigo will mimic the move. The analog stick is used to move around and the Z button on the nunchuck is used to block. In Bleach Wii you’re not going to be able to turtle in a corner. Every character has a guard break that can be done by holding down A while you swing the remote. The guard break is a slower move, but it gives more damage. If you hold the B button while moving the remote you can do special attacks. Renji can do the Higa Zekko by holding B and thrusting the remote forward. If you do a horizontal slice while holding B, Renji does a spinning combo where his sword changes into a whip. When you play as Toushiro and do a thrusting special move he uses the Hyouka Zen where he summons a giant ice dragon for a ranged attack. If you play as Ulquiorra the vertical slash special does the Espacio EX and a horizontal slash does the Impulso. Each character has three special moves in their arsenal, one for each type of slash. Making combos in Bleach Wii is a little different from most games. You can opt to do a bunch of basic strikes, but if you really want to do damage you have to finish with a guard break or a special attack. When you wave the remote to attack your soul power gauge depletes. If the gauge is empty you won’t be able to attack. As a safeguard against random swinging, the soul spirit gauge works. Once it empties out you can only dash around the arena and try to evade attacks. Compared to other fighting games the move set in Bleach Wii is limited and the same combo structure that you learned with Ichigo is going to be just as useful if you play as Kenpachi.
During a match you’re going to get hit and when you do the bankai meter on the bottom the screen fills up. When it’s full you can shake the nunchuck and your character will use their bankai. Renji’s bankai gives him a huge skeletal snake, which lets him attack from even further away. Ichigo’s bankai gives him a ranged black orb projectile and a new aerial attack where he jumps with his black sword and slams it into the ground. Ichigo also has an added benefit his blinks in and out when he’s dashing, this makes him particularly hard to hit. While in bankai mode you can do a super attack by holding B and thrusting the remote. The special attack greatly depletes the bankai gauge, so you have to choose between staying in bankai mode for a couple extra seconds to do the new moves or end early with a damaging final attack. Going into bankai mode has other technical benefits like hyper armor, which makes it difficult to knock a character down and increased attack power. Normally, using the bankai can only be done when you’re low on life. If you want to transform faster you can shake the nunchuck to charge the bankai gauge. Of course this leaves you wide open for attacks. Right before a battle starts you have some free shaking time so you can give your bankai gauge a little boost.
Bleach Wii was designed for characters that use swords, but you’re also going to get to play with characters like Chad who use their fists. Chad has his armored right arm and you can do quick jabs by thrusting the remote forward. When you play as Yoruchi she does swift kicks by thrusting the remote, roundhouses when you swing it horizontally and axe kicks when you swing the remote vertically. As Uryu a remote thrust makes him shoot three arrows straight forward and jump back to keep his distance. All characters who don’t have a bankai transformation can still gain new attacks when they use up their bankai gauge. While in her super mode Orihime uses the Shun Shun Rikka, which is a ranged attack with her six hair pins. During Chad’s super mode he can do a powerful uppercut that launches his enemy in mid air.
The fighting system in Bleach Wii isn’t complex. It really is a game that anyone can pick up and play just by swinging around the remote. One thing that isn’t explicitly clear is how you’re supposed to hold the Wii remote. Unlike the teaser where the remote is held vertically like a sword, Bleach Wii can not be played like that. You have to hold the remote horizontally otherwise the game translates your moves inaccurately. Another thing I’ve noticed is that while you’re deep into a match you’re going to be tempted to start swinging the remote in all sorts of unorthodox positions, like if you were in a real swordfight. As soon as you start doing this the control scheme goes out of whack and you’ll find yourself doing the wrong moves. If you want to play Bleach Wii the “right” way you have to robotically swipe the remote horizontally or vertically. Sure you can play Bleach Wii that way, but it’s a whole lot more fun if you’re wildly swinging the remote and you accept that some moves might not come out right.
Because of the accuracy problem I can’t imagine someone “mastering” Bleach Wii in the same way someone would learn just frames in Tekken. It just wouldn’t be fun. Also there’s not a whole lot to master. There aren’t any complex techniques like juggling or aerial raves that you have to learn. The most difficult thing to master is how to do the sosai (mutual kill) skill. To do this you need to time your attack hit your opponent while they’re hitting you. Instead of both of you taking damage it opens up a mini game with a meter on the bottom of the screen and a moving marker. You need to do one of the three slashes with the remote while the marker is in the yellow area. After both you and the other player make their move the game picks a winner from a rock-paper-scissors set up where a thrust beats a vertical slash, a vertical slash bests a horizontal attack and a horizontal attack deflects a thrust. Whoever wins more out of five quick matches does a finishing move for heavy damage.
When you start playing Bleach Wii there are four episodes to play. Ichigo, Renji, Kenpachi and Toushiro have their episodes unlocked from the start. After you beat an episode a new one unlocks and you will unlock a few additional characters you met in the episode you played. You also earn points that can be spent in the Urahara shop to unlock gallery pictures and sound tests. Besides the story mode, Bleach Wii has all of the standard features you expect in a fighting game like a versus mode, a training mode and an arcade mode if you want to jump right into battle. Another bonus is a Wii remote testing feature buried in the training mode menu where you can hit Kon with a stick to make sure the remote is working right.
While Bleach Wii isn’t high in depth it’s damn fun. There’s something about swinging around the remote to attack that makes Bleach Wii entertaining, even if it isn’t perfectly accurate. It’s also extremely easy to pick up and learn since the fighting mechanics have been simplified in a way where anyone can play the game. Bleach fans are the ones who are going to love the game the most and it’s too bad the Wii isn’t region free. The menus in Bleach Wii: Hakujin Kirameku Rondo have English subtitles so you won’t have any problems navigating through the game if you were to import it. The only thing you will miss out on is the dialogue during story sequences, which is in Japanese. Since Bleach Wii is so far in the manga story line it doesn’t look it’s going to come out anytime soon unless major changes are going to be made to the game. Hopefully, a region free device will let importers pick this up. Until someone makes one see our videos of Bleach Wii: Hakujin Kirameku Rondo.
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