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Monday, November 14, 2011

Soul Blade (BLEEM) Review

Original release:
January 1997 (PSX)

Game details:
1-2 Players
Standard controller
VGA box

The following game was not officially released for the Sega Dreamcast. It is emulated using the leaked Bleemcast beta. This is an evaluation of the emulation of the game as well as the game itself.

Using TeamRDC's release, you can play this game on your Dreamcast as though it is a commercial game with only a brief loading screen.

The Bleemcast beta does not allow you to save games and FMVs do not work. Soul Blade is emulated pretty well considering how Bleemcast usually works. There will be some white textures and the game doesn't run 100% full speed. The frame rate definitely varies depending on the stage and what's happening in the background. Once it has some time to load all of the textures it runs pretty close to full speed. In my opinion, the frame rate never dipped low enough to be unplayable, though it was a bit slower than I would've liked at times. The sound can also have stuttering to it.

This game is definitely the precursor to SoulCalibur and the real surprising thing here is how little really changed. Don't crucify me if there are big differences; I'm pretty casual with the Soul series of games. History seems to have generally forgotten about Soul Blade in favor of SoulCalibur, but it's definitely not because Soul Blade is bad. It's a game that was definitely limited by hardware. The ambition is there, but the technology wasn't. If you haven't played SoulCalibur shame on you, but I'll describe the game anyways. Soul Blade is a 3D weapons-based fighter. There are edges to the arena letting you get ring outs, but you generally won't need them. It's a simple fighter, very easy to pick up and play and also very easy to be cheap. Due to its simplicity, it's a great game to keep around if you're into fighting games and have friends who aren't into the genre so much.

This is devastating to me because I know it's there, I've played all of the SoulCalibur games plenty, but I have no idea what the hell is going on in the storyline of this series. It seems like a massive headache working it out. Don't worry about this.

One thing Bleemcast does really well is cleaning up PSX graphics. The game still isn't great looking by any means, but it's a knockout compared to playing it on the PSX. I was impressed with the character's mouths moving. Many games from this era made no effort to move the characters mouths when there were voices. The character designs are much more simple than they are in SoulCalibur, but the stages have a similar feel to them. Even with the white textures that occasionally pop in on the characters (and somewhat more frequently on the stages), the game still looks better than it would on a PlayStation.

I've never been a fan of the music in this series, but it is very epic and orchestrated. I know some people really like the music, but it's not for me. If you enjoyed the music in SoulCalibur, you'll enjoy it here.

It's hard to really recommend the game knowing that SoulCalibur is out there with similar gameplay and far better graphics. That doesn't make this game bad, but it does make it more of a conversation piece over what a jump in technology can do for a game.


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