December 5th, 1997 (Arcade)
The following game was not officially released for Sega Dreamcast. It is emulated using NEO4ALL RC-4 developed by chui. This is an evaluation of the emulation of the game as well as the game itself.
Using Team RDC's release you can play this game as though it is a commercial game with only a brief loading screen.
The Last Blade is emulated very well, which is impressive considering that it came later in the life of the Neo Geo CD. The gameplay is smooth, but there are several loading times before and after matches. Thankfully they have no impact on gameplay.
Ah, the Last Blade. The black sheep of the SNK fighting games which the hardcore speak of in hushed tones… sort of reminds me of a little game called Street Fighter III. It's actually a very fair comparison. The Last Blade features a kind of parry system (though it's much easier to execute than in SFIII) which can make for some pretty cool sword fights. There's also a choice of style for each character of either speed or power. The implications of each of those are pretty obvious, so I shouldn't need to elaborate. It's an interesting idea and it allows players to tune characters to their own personal style. These additional systems can make the game more interesting for hardcore players, and due to their simple implementation be utilized by novice players as well.
The Last Blade really shines with its graphics. The backgrounds are excellent and convey the intended time period very nicely. The same care has been put into the characters, who animate nicely and have details far greater than what is put into the other SNK series.
It conveys the time period I suppose, but I don't think it's likely that too many of you will be getting the songs stuck in your head and seeking out a soundtrack CD.
Maybe I'm just Capcom biased, but it seems to me that The Last Blade still has the same pitfalls as other SNK fighters. There's still not a lot of depth to this game, even with the added systems. It definitely makes it one of the best SNK fighters, but the game never quite achieves what it could have. This sounds negative, but it's not really. I like the game and think it could have achieved more with a bit more development time. There's always the second game though…