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The Last Blade
  PCBFightingJPN  
  opened by paleface at 03:39:43 10/03/05  
  paleface [sys=PCB; cat=Fighting; loc=JPN]
           
SNK put some style into the fighting game genre with this entry set late in the samurai era. The gorgeous period backgrounds and tremendously creative and distinctive character designs, combined with some moody music and sharp sword clangs, give a fascinating late-medieval feel to the game.
 
It was around the time they made this that SNK really started to get into the technique of simulating more animation frames than they really had by making a fast motions in-between frames a sort of blur between the start and end positions, a technique which kinda makes the game look smoother than it actually is, and which also adds a subtle abstraction to the characters, getting away from the very rigid character animation of earlier fighting games.
 
That being said, the game still has a whole bunch of slowdown, especially when zoomed far out (if the characters back away from each other) and firing projectiles, for instance. It isn't enough to make it unplayable by any means, but it does tend to feel a bit sluggish.
 
Still, the fighting system is a winner, with some "Speed" or "Power" move variants for each character, lots of distinct special moves, brief chain combos, and parries. Parries are pretty easy to do (just push the parry button as your opponent swings at you), and knocking your opponent's guard open with a parry can lead to a round-deciding combo counterattack, if you time it all just right. So you get times where both characters advance at each other, then both do the parry ducking motion--mind games, man.
 
Just to go back to the characters, they are keen. I really like the macho, pink-kimono-clad samurai with a wooden sword (nasty in Power mode), and who isn't charmed by the old man who throws turtles at you from out of a big wicker basket, and who also hits you with his fishing rod? Pretty fun stuff. I dunno if they're all quite exactly balanced, but they're a very colorfun, fun bunch, and it's amusing to explore the different matchups. The hints of individual stories between certain rounds also adds nicely to the atmosphere.
    
references:
· Bakumatsu Roman Dai Ni Maku: Gekka no Kenshi Final Edition (DC)
· Bakumatsu Roman: Gekka no Kenshi (PS1)
· Bakumatsu Roman: Gekka no Kenshi 2-1 (NeoGeo Online Collection v.2) (PS2)
· The Last Blade 2: Heart of the Samurai (DC)
· The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny (NGPC)

 
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