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Video Game / Bushido Blade

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Not everyone can be a samurai warrior. Not everyone can live by the power of the sword! Not everyone can die with honor.
I, for example, make kazoos! *honk!*
Blacksmith, U.S. TV ad for Bushido Blade.

A series of two Fighting Games released by Square Soft. Both games were released for the Playstation. Bushido Blade was released in 1997 and its sequel Bushido Blade 2 was released in 1998.

The games' plot focuses on two rivaling schools: the Narukagami and the Shainto. The Narukagami has its own dojo, the Meikyokan, and a secret assassin team known as Kage. The first game deals with Tatsumi's attempt to leave the Kage after its leader became insane due to a cursed sword. The second game starts with the Shainto's raid of the Meikyokan in an attempt to recover said sword, and then use it to end their enemies once and for all.

These games differ from traditional Fighting Games in many ways. A quick list: no life gauges (a well-placed attack can be a One-Hit Kill!), ability to injure (slashing an arm or a leg cripples the opponent), everyone has a real weapon (mostly melee, but a few characters use guns) and use them fairly realistically, easy-to-use simple specials that are typically just a different type of attack (stabbing as opposed to slashing), hitting a critical spot can make an opponent slowly bleed out, and other more realistic features that are rare in the genre.

After its second game, arguments between developer Light Weight and Squaresoft ended in the franchise's demise.

There was a spiritual successor with Kengo (Kengo: Master of Bushido in the West) developed by Light Weight and Genki, and published by Crave and Majesco Entertainment, which also became it's own series of games. Kengo also featured highly strategic fighting, one hit kills, crippling limbs, and forcing an opponent to bleed out, however it introduced life and "spirit" gauges, training mini games, and a leveling system.

Not related to the 1981 film of the same name.


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  • Anachronism Stew: The game is actually set in the modern day, so the anachronism isn't the guy with the gun on the helipad — it's that you're fighting him with a sword dressed like you came out of the Edo period.
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: Averted; a single shot to the torso will almost always put you down, through if you're lucky and get winged in a limb instead you can survive.
  • BFS: A nodachi and broadsword are among the pool of weapons available to your characters.
  • Blade on a Stick: The naginata in both games, and the yari on the sequel.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted with the gunslingers. To balance out their limitless range and power, they need to reload after running out of ammo.
  • Camp: Katze, what with his high-pitched voice, mannerism and rather pintoresque choice of wardrobe.
  • Captain Ersatz: Black Lotus is basically an Irish Zorro that doesn't wear a hat.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Mikado's sensei, Genyou Sakaki, is mentioned in the first game's worst ending. In the sequel, he's the Final Boss (the one that counts) of the Shainto story side. The Narukagami princess also appears in the first game, being the girl that hands the characters their weapons on the character selection screen.
  • Deconstruction: With the battle system that allows instant kills along with precise attacks, this game can be considered one for weaponized Fighting Game genre.
  • Eye Open: Happens when you continue after being killed.
  • Face–Heel Turn: As noted above, Hanzaki in the first game. Black Lotus sorta as well, when he changes allegiances to the Shainto under a new identity, Highwayman. "Sorta" because the Shainto are only Heels from the perspective of the Narukagami and vice versa.
  • Glass Cannon: Even by the standards of this game, gun-wielding characters qualify for the inherent range, power, and attack speed of their weapons. However, they have the worst recovery of all the characters: their reload time makes them sitting ducks to their opponents, whom are given more than enough time to land a successful killing blow. And if you wing them, they'll no longer be able to reload. In the first game, attacking Katze's legs is enough to beat him.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: The Narukagami and the Shainto are fierce rivals, but there is no good/evil dichotomy between them. Both clans have many noble characters in them and both have legitimate grievances to justify their ongoing conflict.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Hahaha, NO. The two gun-wielding characters are some of the toughest opponents you'll face. The only thing that makes it fair for the player is that both take a relatively long time to reload, and they're defenseless while they do it.
  • A Handful for an Eye: You can do this in both games by using the subweapon button without any subweapon. In the first game, though, this was considered dishonorable.
  • In a Single Bound: Downplayed; no character can jump higher than their own height, and heavy weapons reduce this considerably.
  • MacGuffin: The Yugiri, an Ancestral Weapon created by the Shainto clan that was stolen by the Narukagami's ancestors. Said weapon is also implied to be an Evil Weapon that winds up possessing then-Narukagami leader Hanzaki in the first game. The Shainto characters' main objective in the second game is to recover it.
  • Made of Iron: A notable aversion due to the lack of a Life Meter mechanic. Unlike other weapon-based fighters where characters can regularly shrug off fatal blows, like Soulcalibur or Samurai Shodown, in Bushido Blade a character can be killed with a single clean hit.
  • Marathon Level: Slash Mode in both games.
  • McNinja: Red Shadow is a Russian ex ninja, while Black Lotus is an Irish one.
  • Miko: Mikado.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: "Slash" Mode, renamed "Chambara" Mode in the sequel. How fast can you take down 100 mooks with just your trusty katana before getting killed?
  • Multiple Endings: The first game has a different ending for each character depending on how well you upheld the Code of Bushido (and how little damage you took along the way). The sequel has 2 endings for the Shainto-side characters, which depends on whether you kill or spare the last descendant of the Kagami.
  • Ninja: Red Shadow/Hotarubi. Nightstalker joins her in Bushido Blade 2.
  • One-Hit Kill: An inherent part of the combat system.
  • Press X to Die: In both games, there's the option to surrender by pressing Select. In the first game you need to wait for your foe to finish you off; while the second activates a cutscene after a short time (allowing for a sneak attack if you cancel it before it kicks in). In the first game, you can only surrender if your legs are crippled, though.
  • Professional Killer: Katze has been contracted in both games to kill the main guys.
  • Rocket-Tag Gameplay: Given that this is a more realistic take on swordplay, combat amounts to who lands the killing blow first; in many cases, it's the first one. The first game even requires the player to complete a No-Damage Run in order to face off against the True Final Boss and view the Golden Ending of their character.
  • Rōnin: Matsumushi from the sequel.
  • Royal Rapier: A selectable weapon in the first, and Highwayman's subweapon in the second.
  • Samurai: The majority of the playable cast.
  • Secret Character: Katze (both games) and Tsubame (second only). The second also has two nameless kabuki-themed characters to unlock, one for each clan.
  • Shows Damage: In the story mode, after each fight, areas that were injured will be if you continue after being killed, areas injured prior to your defeat will be bloodied or bandaged.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: A very possible scenario in any battle if one can get in a well-placed clean strike on the enemy. See One-Hit Kill, above.
  • Stance System: A central part of the game system. The first game has three different stances to choose from, while the sequel included a few extra stances like sheathed and Dual Wielding.
  • Subsystem Damage: One of the game's unique features. Arms and legs can incapacitated in the first game, while the second only retained arm incapacitation. A broken arm would lead to weaker (and slower) striking force and defense, a broken leg would limit the player to "crawl-fighting".
  • True Companions: Tatsumi, Kannuki and Mikado seem to be very close. This is specially noticeable in their Bushido Blade 2 endings.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Black Lotus is clearly distraught with having to kill female combatants.

    Bushido Blade 
  • A.K.A.-47: Closer inspection of Katze's gun (especially its silhouette on the weapon selection screen) reveals that it is actually a Mauser C96, which is simply referred to as the "Pistol" in-game; this is especially strange considering Mauser halted production of the gun in the early 60s, and the main storyline occurs long afterwards.
  • Awesome, but Impractical/Joke Item: The sledgehammer is a good weapon to use for incapacitating your enemies, but good luck actually killing anyone with it. Since it's not a bladed weapon, you can't get away with simply slashing or stabbing them. The game treats blunt attacks as non-lethal hits for the most part, so only a very specific blow to the enemy's head will actually kill them. And if you try to use it with a lightweight character (like Tatsumi), some of the attacks will actually cause them to stumble and fall.
  • Driven to Suicide: Black Lotus in both his endings. The only difference in his true ending is the reveal of a woman back in Ireland who mourns his passing.
  • Drop the Hammer: The sledgehammer, which didn't make it to the sequel.
  • Gratuitous English: After talking like an old-fashioned samurai for the majority of the game, Black Lotus's last words in his regular ending are "This is the Bushido!"
    • Red Shadow's normal ending has Hanzaki referring to her as a "killing machine," which he says in Japanese as 殺人マシン (satsujin mashin), or literally "murder machine."
  • Guide Dang It!: Getting the best ending in the first game seems Nintendo Hard because of the stringent honor requirements that you aren't told about. But it turns out that one element that you would think is part of the honor rules isn't: You are allowed to run away from opponents. The stages are not separate, but form a connected chain, and if you enter the next stage without killing your current opponent, they will simply follow you and no new opponent spawns. By crippling your first opponent's leg, you can easily run all the way to the well and jump into it, where you face the last four opponents after the one you ran away from. So you can get the best ending by handicapping yourself against every opponent… or by simply running away and avoiding most of them. Incidentally, if you're going to cut their legs, wait until you reach the well, or else you'll have to wait for them to drag themselves to you on every screen transition.
    • There is a "clue" in the explanation for the story mode: the premise of the story mode is that your character is trying to escape, and the other characters — your friends — have been sent to assassinate you. So the logic seems to be that you get the best ending by actually escaping, while sticking around to kill all your friends is dishonorable. But while there's some sense to be made, it's still a major case of this trope.
  • Honor Before Reason: It's a gameplay element in the form of the Bushido Code. Acting dishonorably results in a Non Standard Game Over.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Kindachi is hinted to be the one behind the Big Bad's Face–Heel Turn.
  • Nintendo Hard: It's nigh-impossible to get the good endings, both because you can't get hit once including non-lethal hits (if you're wearing a bandage during the next fight, you're already disqualified), and you have to do a series of tasks the game never hints at.
  • Non Standard Game Over: In Story mode, you must abide by the Bushido Code and fight honorably. Using low tactics like throwing dust in your opponent's eyes or attacking them in the back will abruptly cut your playthrough short, with a random message berating you for it.
  • Old Master: Utsusemi, the oldest Narukagami-side character at 56, is the master for both Red Shadow and Tatsumi (as well as Mr. Exposition in the latter's case) and was the former leader of Kage before Hanzaki.
  • Parental Substitute: Utsusemi to Tatsumi.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: The Kage works with this code in the first game, which is what sets things into motion.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Kannuki in the first game: he's out to get revenge for his hometown being slaughtered under Hanzaki's orders. Midway through, he realizes that not everyone's involved and decides to just kill those that stand in his way.
  • Talk to the Fist: The story mode let you stop your opponent in the middle of their Pre Ass Kicking One Liner, though it counts as breaking Bushido.
  • True Final Boss: After going through the needlessly hard Code of Honor handicaps unharmed, you get to fight each character's True Final Boss: Kindachi (Mikado, Utsusemi, Red Shadow), Hongou (Black Lotus, Tatsumi), and a severely wounded Black Lotus (Kannuki). As a bonus, your character's true ending is guaranteed regardless of how many rematches or dishonorable tactics you employ at this point.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Among the Non Standard Game Over messages that chew you out for breaking the bushido code, one is especially blunt and to-the-point: "Cowards can go no further."

    Bushido Blade 2 
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Hiragi Taina, the Shinto side's Final Boss, must be hit on the back to be killed. Attacking any other part results in a rebound due to his armor.
  • Charlie Brown from Outta Town: Black Lotus, in his new persona as the rival Shainto "The Highwayman" in the sequel. Obviously, none of his former Narukagami allies are fooled for long.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Since the Bushido code is no longer enforced in this game, some fighters have a few cheap tricks up their sleeve. For example, Isohachi can startle his opponent by yelling loudly, making them drop their weapon for a moment and allowing him a free slash. Chihiro can throw a frog at the enemy, making a few female opponents (like Red Shadow, for one) freak out and giving him/her a very huge opening.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Pretty much all Shainto-side characters do this in their endings.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: The Shainto are very insistent that they do not hold a grudge against the Narukagami. They merely intend to destroy the Narukagami as revenge for the way that the Narukagami wronged them in the past. Totally different.
  • Domino Mask: Used by Highwayman to hide his true identity.
  • The Dragon: Gengoro. Besides being utmost loyal to the Shainto and Taina, he's usually the one fought before him.
  • Dual Wielding: A few characters (Tatsumi, Utsusemi, Matsumushi, Hotarubi, and Highwayman) can dual-wield with a specific weapon and their subweapon.
  • Feuding Families: The backstory for the second game states the ancestors of the Narukagami (Kagami) and Shainto (Sue) were feudal families under the same Daimyo, which after his fall entered in conflict, spawning a secret war for over 800 years.
  • Funny Foreigner: Suminagashi, a large American that speaks broken Japanese in the original version (and broken English in the localization). Also Tony Umeda, a disco-styled half-African half-Japanese "black ninja" whose main goal is to create his own style… based on dancing moves. Lastly, there's "Highwayman" who dresses like The Phantom of the Opera, but has a thick Scots accent…
  • Genki Girl: Jo.
  • Iaijutsu Practitioner: Gengoro, Kaun, Tony, and Utamaru makes use of the "sheathed" stance in the sequel. It's also a mild case of Awesome, but Impractical, as performing just one slash in that stance results in a time-consuming (but pretty damn cool) animation where they twirl the sword around for a while before sheathing it back again.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: In the second game's ending for both Kannuki and Mikado, Tatsumi forces them to kill him, since after discovering his Shainto roots, he feels that the feud will never end until the last Shainto is dead.
  • Island Base: The Shainto's HQ.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Tatsumi, the Shainto leader Hiragi Daina is your father!
  • Old Soldier: Isohachi, a World War II veteran.
  • Promoted to Playable: Sazanka, Tsubame, and Hongou were originally computer-controlled only characters in the first game, but were re-introduced in the second game as playable characters, though not before getting radically redesigned (Tsubame and Hongou in particular).
  • Ring Out: Implemented in a few stages. There are no Bottomless Pits though, so one can see the poor sap fall to his/her demise. In Versus mode, for a laugh, you can position your character near a ledge to make them fall as they do their win-pose (if their pose doesn't just have them standing still); the game will cut to the loading screen before they hit the ground.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: The story mode has one.
  • The Rival: Hongou considers Tatsumi his rival after his defeat in the first game. Utamaru seems to consider Kaun his rival, even though they are on the same side.
  • Seppuku: You can end a fight by giving up; this causes your character to commit seppuku. See Press X to Die, above.
  • She's a Man in Japan: Chihiro is clearly female in the Japanese script, but was given a male dub-actor and is referred to as a male with pronouns consistently in the English version.
  • Shout-Out: Jo takes her Victory Pose from Cloud in Final Fantasy VII.
  • The Siege: In the story mode, Shainto's forces have sprung an attack on the Narukagami's HQ believing their forces are reduced after the first game's ordeal.
  • The Stoic: Kaun.
  • Teleport Spam: Sakaki, the last opponent in the Shainto storyline. Every time the player strikes, he is instantly teleported away from you. The catch is that every successive teleport places him closer to the character, and leaves him vulnerable for a few seconds.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Certain characters have a sword subweapon that can be thrown and, on clean shots, One Hit Killing the enemy.