Publisher: Metro 3D
Developer: Vivid Image
Release Date: 10/2002
When it comes to platform fighters it's really hard to capture the essance of the arcade. An arcade is a wonderful environment in which you can compete with friends, or random people, and the experience is just as much as fun as the actual game you're playing. Putting this experience on a much smaller machine and introducing artifically driven opponents is something the industry has been trying to perfect for a while. With the mobile ability of the Game Boy Advance it has a little more of an advantage at grabbing the whole atmosphere of the arcade. This is where Dual Blades tries to make a mark. Taking from the good points of old games, and trying to release them in a newer package.
The game consists of eight different uninspiring characters that you can choose from, and one hidden character that you can unlock. Each come with an array of different special moves that you can perform, and finishing moves as well. While the idea of the game takes a little from the good fighting games out there, such as Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and Samurai Showdown, it does little to distinguish itself from the crowd. Also the use of blood and gore in the game really takes away from any potential this game ever had. The first time experiencing an opponent splitting in half and "gushing" blood will make you fall off your chair laughing. Not the kind of laughing either that's sparked by a witty joke, the kind that's sparked by someone tripping while walking. It really makes you wonder what they were doing at the studio while creating the game. I think the conversation went a bit like this in the development room:
Project Lead: Alright guys...we are kinda tight on time, what's up for today’s goals?
Employee: Well...the death animations for the final round finishes aren't quite completed...
Project Lead: Alright, just give it to that new intern to finish up. Make sure he completes it by the end of the day.
Employee: Great idea!
Basically once you slice the opposing player in half upon victory of the final round you'll be treated to the "awesome graphics" of pure redness. Basically they took the character sprite, cut it in half, and kinda shaded in a section with pure red pixels. After there are a couple of "gushing blood" sprites to get you even more into the game. Five minutes later and this kind of experience will be more of an annoyance then anything else.
On a more serious note other then the above mentioned "graphical delimmas" the game isn't too bad to look at. Most of the sprites are well made, although I think the animation could have used a little work, and the backgrounds aren't that bad either. There just wasn't that level of polish that separates a great game from a decent game.
Sound wise the game has very little to offer. There are some nice background scores, very little voice "talent" (round numbers), but the sound effects are absolutely terrible. You'll be subjected to either a blocking clash, or a hit slice, which tends to be a little monotonous. Vivid Image could have really put more of an effort into the sound effects such as character voices, various hit and block sounds, and maybe something to do with the background on the particular level, but alas they didn't and we're left with the bland setting of Dual Blades.
The single player side of things is pretty simple. Pick a character, battle it out with the AI opponents, and watch the ending sequence. Normally this would have been your traditional fighter style, even with the bad fighter story lines, but the art that's at the end of every characters story is something nice to see for sure. A neat feature while heading through the single player experience is the blocking mini-game, which consists of little critters heading towards you and having you block their attacks. Blocking in Dual Blades isn't like your traditional fighter, it is mostly related to the parrying technique found in the Street Fighter 3 series of games. Having a mini-game where you get to practice this skill is quite refreshing, somewhat like the mini games included in the Street Fighter EX series.
Some other single player features included in the game are Time Attack and Survival mode. Time Attack basically gives you 99 seconds to defeat 25 opponents. Now this might sound like quite a task at first it's really not as bad as it seems. With each character that you defeat more time is added back onto the clock, and no need to worry about health as there is no health gauge to worry about. As well when the time starts to get really close to nothing you'll be treated to unlimited super abilities. Some of the super moves however are quite dedicated, so if your opponent defends against the attack you'll find yourself in a pretty tight jam for time. Survival mode gives you an unlimited amount of time to defeat 30 opponents. You'll be given three tries to attempt this with your health bar filling in automatically at the end of each try.
If you manage to find someone else that has a copy of the game then you'll be able to play the game versus each other, which manages to try to prolongue the life of this title by a little longer. Going back to the whole atmosphere of what makes fighting games so much fun having this included in the game is a definite plus. It doesn't matter how bad any fighting game can be, if you have someone else to enjoy this miserable experience with it takes the game to a whole different level. Figuring out new combinations and defeating other "unstopable" characters has always been a great cycle with the fighting game genre. All of the characters are fairly well balanced, and this creates for a decent multiplayer experience.
Taking into account everything that Dual Blades has to offer it's easily summed up in a couple of words, just another fighter. Dual Blades is a blatant attempt at trying to shock the gamers in a way that Mortal Kombat did. With its senseless voilence, uneventful gameplay, and dastardly boring combat it is a failed attempt at creating anything remotely interesting. It's another great example of things that could have went right, but didn't.