Title: The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny
Developer: SNK Corporation
Release Date: October 28, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Code Mystics
Growing up, if you wanted to be the coolest kid at school, find a way to get your hands on Neo Geo Pocket Color. These handheld devices were so mysterious back then that any time I saw one, I just couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Many years later, I’ve learned that it was more than just a way to play Metal Slug on the go and actually featured some respectable fighting games. One of which being,
The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny, which has been released on Nintendo Switch, for retro fighting nerds to experience.
The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny is such an interesting fighter as it acts as a sequel to the original arcade release; we get a 2D fighter that tries its best to be competitive in the genre even on the limited hardware. The game has a story that revolves around simply fighting through six encounters. The only difference between each character is their ending, which vaguely points to where they ended up.
It’s exceptionally limited in that regard, and the localization causes some strain as you attempt to make out what they are talking about, but I’m not sure if this game is meant to have its story dissected. The more interesting aspect is how you can use points gathered after matches to purchases the prologue and various information about the characters.
WhereThe Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny lacks in story, it completely makes up for in unlockables, which range from mini-games to short text stories of the characters. It incentivizes you to play through the campaign and various modes to gain access to more content.
Aside from Story Mode, you can play through Survival, Time Attack, and Training. There’s also a Versus mode that you can play with friends through Local Multiplayer. They’re simple offerings, but it’s enough to dub this an actual fighting game with more than an Arcade Mode, which this game also has.
Still, this is a fighting game, and The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny does a great job utilizing the two-button layout of the handheld. Each character has a weapon and a few different attacks that they can use to combine a punch and kick attack. However, depending on the directional input, players can chain together some pretty interesting combos.
Characters can also cause elemental damage that can double as a ranged attack. There’s a level of balance that occurs during fights where the harder-hitting attacks leave you open to taking damage. It adds a layer of strategy to encounters as you weaver if you have enough time to execute your combo. Since both characters leave these opening, some interesting match-ups take place that makes the entire experience rather fun and even challenging at times.
The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny features a juggling system where you can launch a character in the air and connect a few attacks. You’re even able to follow up with a downward attack to hit them while they’re down. As this is adapted from the arcade release, I think this is an awesome display of taking 3D characters and shrinking them down to 2D sprites.
The character sprite looks gorgeous while in character select mode, and the few cutscenes that are available are also well designed. The in-game sprites take a more chibi approach, but they resemble the characters enough to know what they are doing. There are two different options for each character, Speed and Power, which is honestly just a preference for how you wish to play. I would say that Power made the last boss much easier as he can be a pain.
Where the game is held back is by various options that could have been added to this release. It really nails the nostalgic pixel-perfect display, but it lacks additional features like different overlays, high-quality art, or promo pictures, which would have really sweetened the release in terms of added content that could have better preserved such an old title. Also, I found it quite easy to stun-lock computer AI characters with a specific combo that allowed me to cheese through many fights.
The Last Blade: Beyond the Destiny is an easy to pick up but tough-to-master fighter that does more than expected with only two-buttons. This creates some unique matchups, but the shallowness of the overall design leans heavily on unlockables and rewards for the time you put in. It’s definitely not something that will keep your attention for more than a weekend, but it a significant title to experience.
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