Evaluation: The Last Blade: Beyond the Fate
First appearing in games in 1997, The Last Blade is more a spiritual follower to Samurai Shodown than a development, because both games have distinct mechanical strengths. Shodown’s careful, determined play is much heavier than Last Blade’s, which, while also including tactical aspects based around ravaging big weapon blows, is overall lighter and much faster. With 2 play style options, Speed Mode and Power Mode, the player can shape their preferred character around quicker combination driven play or a stronger, more defensive approach.
The Neo Geo Pocket, if you were a game kid in 1998, was a short-lived blessing. SNK proved while the console was still in its preliminary black and white build that they had actually crafted a system that could faithfully recreate the arcade combating video game experience in the palm of your hand.
The Last Blade
Beyond the Fate was relatively belated when it made its Neo Geo Pocket launching in 2001, quickly before SNK filed for bankruptcy. Its European release underwent a recall when the company stopped all foreign operations a month later on, making it among the rarest English language titles in the console’s library.
Endearingly squat and lovingly provided, The Last Blade offers nine playable characters plucked from the initial arcade video game, each accompanied by wonderfully drawn pictures and big, well-animated sprites. Whimsical in its styles of old Japan’s romantic duration and trespassing westernisation, and mindful in its recreation of the arcade video game’s backgrounds, stage intro sequences and music, it’s all carried off with a strong layer of anime flair.
Being able to readily import abilities found out in the arcade to a little game you might play on the train was a kind of magic. The Last Blade has just about everything: repels, juggles, hops, cross-ups, air healings, super moves and flashy last-ditch desperation attacks. It’s less difficult than it sounds, and, given that the action runs considerably slower than the arcade game, you adjust fairly rapidly.
In addition to Story Mode and all of its cinematic periphery, there are training, survival and time attack modes, as well as two-player versus fights offered. The five unlockable characters on the character choose screen all hail from The Last Blade 2, and basically change the game to the point where it ends up being a full-blown amalgam of both The Last Blade 1 and 2.
While an unquestionably impressive feat of miniaturisation, sadly all of the Neo Pocket combating video games suffer from weak AI, and The Last Blade is no exception. Regardless of being a limitation of the initial hardware, it’s still somewhat deflating to discover that the game’s impressive complexity is easily circumvented by simplified fallback techniques.
Furthermore, the extra game configuration choices are a little disappointing. You have a couple of seconds of having the ability to rewind the in-game action now, which is fantastic if you’re a loser who can’t accept defeat, and you can select from a whole variety of original Neo Geo Pocket bezels, which is adorable. Why the video game doesn’t use the Switch’s additional buttons is a secret.
Touch-sensitive light and hard attacks are fine when you’re restricted to 2 buttons, and works pretty well, but having the choice to appoint those attacks to the extra buttons would not only have been welcome, however would have offered a new way to experience old software.
There’s only one screen filter, and it’s pretty good when the image is made bigger, catching the appearance of the original hardware’s dotted TFT screen, however a few more alternatives and an opacity slider would have been welcome. The most glaring omission, nevertheless, is the lack of an on-the-fly command list. By now this ought to be a pre-requisite for any battling game, brand-new or old, yet appears to have actually been slackly neglected. The only method to see your character’s attack commands is to pause and raise scans of the video game’s original manual. If you need to re-check a particular command, there’s no chance to jump back to the page you were simply on, requiring you to reload from the manual cover and cycle past all the (now irrelevant) console hardware things each time. It’s far too slow and laborious to be helpful, so you will require a mobile phone ready for quick referral.
Although The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny is an excellent little thing, one need to keep in mind that it is still a 2001 handheld fighting game, and really much of its time. For SNK connoisseurs and Last Blade fans, it will thrill purely on historical worth, however those with no experience of the Neo Geo Pocket or the SNK library will likely feel much better served purchasing the actual arcade ports of Last Blade 1 and 2, which are also available on the eShop. And, while imperfect, it plays like The Last Blade should.