Chivalry may not mean much to some people, but to many folk, especially in the medieval ages, the chivalric code was a great code of conduct around Europe, and the way of living one’s life. Nowadays things like this have long disappeared into the most distant throws of history, but in some parts of the world, similar lifestyles continue. One such way that’s relatively unknown in western culture is the way of Bushido – the Japanese term for the samurai way of life. Something which bears similarities, albeit minor ones, to the chivalric code.
When I first set eyes on Black & White Bushido this was the first thing that came to mind. Probably because other than the Dynasty Warriors and Warriors Orochi series, there isn’t really much else that really takes gaming to the deep and historic depths of Asian folklore. But could Black & White Bushido be the next fighting game to make the most of those many years of history, or was I hoping for too much?
Before I start setting the wrong impression, it’s worth noting that Black & White Bushido isn’t another large-scale hack and slash title such as those previously mentioned. In fact, my only reason for mentioning the previous Warriors titles is due to the relatively small number of historical fighting games available. Black and White Bushido is instead a 2D platform fighting game, and one which offers a truly unique art style within its gameplay.
The visuals to Black & White Bushido are exceptionally important to the gameplay. We’re not talking framerates and pixels here, we’re talking black and white – the two colours – as implied by the title, that make up pretty much the entire game.
In each game, you take control of either a black or white coloured Bushido character, all of which do exactly the same and have no real differences to them other than their appearance. You then get the chance to take them through various fast paced matches in six well designed arenas. Each match follows a score limit, with the goal dependant on the game mode you choose.
The idea is simple enough – each team of Bushidos are either light or dark, with players able to blend into the background of their chosen colour, but then left standing out in the background of the opposing team. The background in each map has several different styles it will switch between, with some purely one colour or the other, with most holding different black and white areas of the map.
There are three ways to play – locally, online or against the AI. As for game modes, you haven’t got a massive amount to go on. First up is Deathmatch, which is pretty self-explanatory for anyone who does their fair share of gaming. It is quite simply you and up to three others partaking in a battle to see who can earn a set number of kills first.
Capture the Flag meanwhile is equally as predictable. A flag is positioned somewhere in the area, and players are left to fight it out in order to capture each one till the allotted number of captures has been made. Both game modes can be played online, locally or with bots should you find yourself without anyone to join you.
Unfortunately, anyone looking to jump online will find themselves in an exceptionally lengthy queue. Whilst the game may only be a few days old, my time has seen me failing to find a single match due to constantly being stuck with waiting times of well over 1000 minutes. Whilst I’d like to think this is due to an excessively high number of players battling to jump in, my experience with the game would suggest a lack of players being the real reason.
Luckily, I did have a couple of friends I was able to pull in for some local multiplayer, and this is by far the way I preferred to play the game too – simply due to how impotent the AI enemies seemed to be. Regardless of the game mode in play, I would often watch the clueless AI as they would repeatedly fail to make the jump to different platform areas several times over. Other times they would start capturing a flag and then stop, before starting over, or I’d sit and watch as several enemies in the game’s challenge mode stand by to simply ignore me, even if I was stood in plain sight.
Playing with real humans is by far the best way to enjoy Black & White Bushido, but even then, things aren’t exactly set up for any real enjoyment. With just two game modes available for multiplayer and local settings, and six maps to play with, there’s not much to keep anyone occupied for more than half an hour. Especially when considering the very basic controls you have to work with. Attacking in the game is probably the thing you’ll be doing most, but with just one physical attack available and a couple different pickups available, there isn’t really anything inspiring to make you want to play on.
Other than attacking you have jumping and sneaking, and that’s the jist of what you will be doing throughout the entire game. Sneaking is only really effective if the other players haven’t been paying attention to your character. Of course it allows you to blend into the background, but with a simple attack enough to kill someone off, it doesn’t really make sense for such a mechanic to be included into a same screen multiplayer title.
Back to the game modes then and there is one other mode available to play with, and that is Challenge Mode which is available for solo play. This turns out to be equally as dull as the other game modes due to only being able to play against the rather poor AI enemies. Essentially an endurance capture the flag, Challenge Mode sees players given extra tasks to complete, such as killing an enemy whilst jumping off a wall or sneaking for a set amount of time. This is easily the best game mode available, and it can offer some replayability should you want to best your high score. But in the end, it all comes down to how long you’re willing to play capture the flag against exceptionally stupid A.I enemies. Even with more enemies being added to the battle over time, there’s no real challenge to Challenge Mode, making for a fairly inane experience.
One of the biggest disappointments for me however, was the complete lack of anything story related. Whilst Black & White Bushido is an indie title, it would have been nice to have at least seen something that gave meaning to the game. A lack of story not only makes the characters pointless, but leaves us with game modes that are quickly forgotten once you decide to go back to something with a little more content.
Overall and Black & White Bushido isn’t anything near what I hoped it would be. With no real reason to be fighting one another, other than capturing flags and racking up kills, it seems the guys over at Good Catch have missed out on a perfect opportunity to enter an untouched market. The art style is generally pleasing to the eye, but the lack of enjoyable content means that it’s likely to be the only thing you’ll remember from the game. With an already diminished player base, there are plenty of other similar local multiplayer titles on the market that offer a lot more.