Bleach: Dark Souls - first look

Okay, let’s clear something up: the man character’s name isn’t Bleach, it’s Ichigo. They call him Bleach because his hair looks bleached and they call the manga/anime series “Bleach” because “emo anime guys doing cool shit with swords and ghosts” doesn’t fit so well on a TV screen. If you already knew that, then you probably know about Bleach: Dark Souls, the Sega game coming to the Nintendo DS this year. It stars your favorite light-haired hero and the entire cast of season one of the anime in a side-story that takes place just before season two (don’t worry - no season two spoilers).

Dark Souls is a fighting game, so most of what you’ll be doing on the DS is frantically pressing A and B and the D-pad at the same time to move your character forward, backward, up and down as you deal out blows with whatever weapon comes to hand. With over 30 characters in the lineup (most of them unlockable through Story Mode), you’ll see a lot of different combat techniques and a lot of side characters you don’t recognize right away. Like that sad boy from episode four? He’s in there and his attack is shivering. And the nurse from episode 12, she’s there too, though God only knows what for. You can even play as a Hollow - a first for Bleach games on all platforms.

Different modes (Survival, Story, Arcade) pit the characters of Bleach against different challenges, but nearly all of them involve fighting. The rare match that doesn’t involve fighting still lets you fight people; however your main objective is usually collecting more of something (like candy that falls from the sky) than your opponent does. To that end, you could fight your opponent so he loses his share of the objects, or just knock him out so he never gets the chance to collect any. Winning matches in any mode besides multiplayer wins you money which you can spend on unlocking items, spirit cards and bonus material. The Wi-Fi multiplayer mode for up to four players sounds like it’ll be a blast, but alas, we didn’t get to see it in action.