Welcome to this week’s, “Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?”Â Each week we’re going to look at a dormant franchise that was once pretty popular, but for some reason has disappeared into the sands of time. Diehard GameFAN staffers will have four options for what they want to have happen to the series and you can see them in the title of this piece. For a little more detailed description see below:
Sequel – A direct sequel to the franchise. This means if it used sprites and was in 2-D, that’s how you want the next game to be as well. This might involve putting the game on a handheld system instead of a console, but it keeps the nostalgia and classic feel alive.
Spin Off – This is where you take the characters or a specific character is a totally different direction from the established franchise. Examples include Luigi’s Mansion, Hey You, Pikachu!, Shadow Hearts (From Koudelka), and so on.
Start Over – This is a reimagining of the series from the ground up. Perhaps it’s time to bring the series into 3-D. Perhaps you want a totally different control scheme or to throw away the old continuity. In a nutshell, this is taking the brand name from the old series and that’s about it. Everything else is new and re-envisioned.
Stay Dead – This is pretty obvious. This is a toxic franchise that you don’t want to see return in any way shape or form. Let the dead rest.
This week we’re looking at a fighting game series published by Squaresoft and developed by LightWeight. Although these two companies dissolved their relationship back in 1998 and LightWeight now belongs to Index Visual & Games, Ltd, the legacy of their creation lives on. The first game in the series went on to be the 25th best selling game of 1997 in Japan and reviewed solid reviews across the board. Its sequel wasn’t as well received, but it still had strong sales. Although LightWeight has taken the engine of Bushido Blade and moved it to the Kengo series, there are a lot of gamers still unaware of the actual developer of these games (much like Quest making Final Fantasy Tactics), or that Kengo is the spiritual successor to this franchise. Five DHGF staffers discuss whether the name value of the franchise and the current Square-Enix can still make something of Bushido Blade without the development being done by LightWeight.
Michael O’Reilly – Start Over
This is contingent on Sony Arc actually being worth a damn, but if it is, they could make a kickass game about guys with swords, and if you’re going to do that, why not make one that looks and feels historically accurate? The only problem the first game had was the controls were clearly not up to the task of emulating real life combat. It was too stiff, too unresponsive. Sony Arc should solve both those problems, so long as the developers don’t get too ambitious and try to make the game use the new 3D tech that’s in the works as well.
Mark B. – Stay Dead
So, fun fact: I was never a fan of the series. See, when Tobal came out, I was impressed by what an amazing and in-depth fighting game it was, especially from a company (Square) who had never made such a thing at that point. So, expecting the same thing from Bushido Blade only to find myself playing a fighting game where you could die in one hit, I was… not impressed.
Now, here’s the thing: I “get” the concept here about as well as anyone is going to, and I completely understand what they were going for: the game was a more realistic Samurai Shodown and it worked to whatever level it was going to. Fine. Many people love the idea behind the game and think that it was a strategic masterpiece. Again, fine. I don’t even think the games were BAD in any way, but I felt like the entire experience was made of ass and fail, and if I could go back in time to 1998 and find a way to not get Bushido Blade 2 and Brave Fencer Musashi for Christmas that year, I would do so in an instant.
So I guess you can say that I would not be the target demographic for a sequel.
A.J. Hess – Sequel
I don’t think the whole franchise needs a reboot, but I’d be down for an update. Bushido Blade had a very interesting take on the fighting-with-weapons genre. Sure, the Soul Calibur and Samurai Shodown series let you whack folks with giant, screen-obscuring blades over and over again, but it wasn’t much different than any other fighting series. I really loved the one-hit, one-kill potential of the matches. With some updated graphics, and a bunch of other edged weapons from around the world, both past and present, you’d have a compelling game.
Chris Bowen – Sequel
I am dumbfounded as to why there hasn’t been a new Bushido Blade. The first two were awesome games: fighting with a twist, one hit can kill, others can render limbs ineffective. In an era when 3D fighting was starting to hit its stride, Bushido Blade did something different, and it felt much better than the button-mashey crap that Tekken and Dead or Alive were giving.
Granted, it’s important to remember that Bushido Blade was made in an era where Squaresoft was simply amazing. Did you know Bushido Blade and Einhander were released in the same year? Squaresoft made those both! Holy shit, the PSX era was amazing! Of course, it’s no longer Squaresoft. They got a little too close to their own Lifestream, and like Sephiroth, it fucked ’em up. They’re now Squeenix – so unworthy of our respect that I don’t even bother using their full name – and all they do now is recycle old games, make safe sequels, spin off series that weren’t made for spin offs (looking at Final Fantasy here), and treat their fans with such open contempt that it’s a wonder anyone buys their bullshit. “NO CHRONO TRIGGER SEQUEL! YOU WOULDN’T BUY THE PORT AT $40, FUCK YOU!” “WE CAN’T REMAKE FINAL FANTASY VII! HD IS HARD! HAVE A PSP SPINOFF INSTEAD, FUCK YOU GAIJIN!” Ironically, the only Squeenix games that have been worthy of purchase, for the most part, have been the Enix properties. Dragon Quest IX is awesome, and the remakes were great, too.
With that said, if someone were to hit Yoichi Wada on the head with a gigantic mallet, and he were to wake up and say, “Let’s make a new generation Bushido Blade!”, I think it would turn out great. Yes, the characters would look like something off of the bishonen assembly line they have in Shibuya, but the gameplay is so simple it works beautifully. As long as they don’t go over the top with it – a sketchy question considering it’s Squeenix – it can work beautifully.
I’m going to say go for it, with the assumption that the mallet someone whacks Wada with doesn’t make him go “… and we’ll put it on the iPhone!”
Aileen Coe – Sequel
I’m surprised there hasn’t been a sequel made already. The possibility of one hit kills and disabling limbs was an addition no other fighters had, and it can either have you doing a victory dance or cursing up a storm and grumbling about cheating AIs. Some of the stages were large and had multiple areas, which meant you could run around exploring while fighting, though if you’re not careful you could kill yourself by running off a cliff, and that would be a silly way to die during a fight. They even included ways to fight dirty such as kicking up dirt to temporarily blind your opponent. So yes, a sequel could turn out great with some updates, as long as they don’t stray from what made the series good in the first place.
Start Over: 1
Stay Dead: 1
Well, it appears the overwhelming opinion is for Bushido Blade to see some new release in one form or another. Will Square-Enix make a new one, and can they legally as it is unknown who actually owns the series. Only time will tell.
Join us next week as we look at a series that was born and died on the Nintendo GameCube. After tri-Crescendo’s releases like Eternal Sonata and Fragile, would gamers even want a third game in this series? See you then!