Date: 04-23-2008 15:30
Reviewer: Jesse

Type: PSP
Genre: Fighting
Developer: Eighting

Well to begin to talk about this game lets get some of its history so you can understand why you should NOT buy this game if you wish to have fun. It came out in March of 2005 and was only released overseas in Japan and Asia regions. It is definitely based on the anime/manga series Bleach which is a fairly popular series so the game was and still is a tribute to the fans of the series. As of writing this there have been 3 sequels to the Heat the Soul video game series and all have been released on the PlayStation Portable. There is another one due out in May of 2008 bringing the series to its fifth title on the PSP. More about the sequels a little later.

Visually, Heat the Soul is pretty impressive as it was released within the first six months of the PSP's lifespan. It caught my eye with its crisp cell shading art style. As I played it I never noticed any slow downs or frame rate issues. The cell shading wasn't flawless but looked great on the PSPs screen.

Controls were very basic. Compared to games such as Soul Calibur or Tekken, Bleach just doesn't seem to have much flexibility but then again it was probably for the better since I wasn't very good at reading the instruction manual as it was all in Chinese. Even without receiving any help from the instructions, I was able to play the game on any difficulty and has immense fun with the challenges it provided.

Gameplay as stated above was pretty challenging even with its simplistic controls. This is due mainly because of the language gap, since the game language was only in Japanese. Even though mine was an Asian import, they never bothered giving it any sort of translation. Here comes the biggest disappointment for the game so brace yourself. There are only 6 playable characters, YES SIX!!! The characters are as follows; Ichigo Kurosaki, Orihime Inoue, Renji Abarai, Rukia Kuchiki, Uryū Ishida, and Yasutora Sado. Combine this minimal character selection with a relatively weak variety of modes you probably won't feel the need to play this game for very long. There isn't any tag team mode or dynamic story mode. Its all linear and supposedly provides a taste of all the important battles from the beginning of the series, I wouldn't know because I've yet to acquaint myself with the show aside from watching an episode here and there.

In order to lengthen the game they do allow you to randomly collect cards with character art on them. This is annoying and actually unlocks a two player mini-game called Blockon that is decently fun, even if it has nothing to do with Bleach at all. As the game couldn't keep me entertained long enough to randomly collect the 134 cards that were required to complete the set and unlock the mini-game, I actually decided to spare myself some boredom and download a gamesave and unless you like repetitive frustrating grinding i suggest you do the same. In order for you to enjoy the gameplay, I'd say you need to be a die-hard fan, and even then you may still find it hard to swallow.

Wrapping up this review because I'm sure you are getting tired of my rambling. The sound is decent enough with the original Japanese cast lending their vocals to all aspects of the game. The music was also enjoyable for me although a game needs to have really bad music for me to say its anything less than decent. The series has really improved with all its short comings over the years and just because this first game isn't getting my praise doesn't mean you shouldn't look into the other titles. I'm fairly sure every Heat the Soul game that comes out becomes a best seller and finds its way onto the Greatest Hits budge line over there. The biggest problem I faced was definitely the selection of characters, but with the latest title boasting up to 65 playable characters (according to wikipedia) they seemed to have remedied my biggest gripe.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Controls: 7
Gameplay: 5
Lifespan: 4
Overall: 6.5
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