Black & White Bushido by Good Catch Games is now available on XBox One & PS4, bringing to the table a mixture of stealth, skill, death and ultimately great fun! Released on PC via Steam back in October 2015, Black & White Bushido was well received by gamers therefore the battle between light and shadow finally coming to consoles is a very anticipated hit.
Black & White Bushido is an arena based couch competitive and newly introduced online multiplayer, samurai sword, shuriken throwing battle between two factions; the light and the shadow. I am probably showing my age if I described it as being similar to Atari’s Joust but this isn’t a bad thing, far from it, this is building upon a classic platform game and making it their own, something that Good Catch Games have carried out very well.
Black & White Bushido supports 1-4 players, both locally or online, and features game modes such as Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Challenge. There is a choice of 7 Edo style maps along with the option to include bots to make up the numbers. The character selection menu is nice and clean with a simple choice of 4 Japanese archetype warriors, each with their own personal weapon of choice such as a hammer, catanna, shinai and samurai umbrella. The final decision is whether your allegiance is to either team light (white) or team shadow (black). Once the arena has loaded, players are randomly spawned across the screen and the battle can commence!!
Now so far I have described to you what may sound like a very mundane beat ’em up with a white samurai vs a black samuari however there is a very cool and aesthetically pleasing twist to this game. The arena is constantly changing colour, illuminating areas in white and casting black shadows in others. It is this mechanism that allows for the main characters to stealthily hide within their colour, awaiting the right moment to strike and score a point. I was stunned as to how the minimalistic approach worked so well and brought so much intensity to the gameplay.
Characters jump onto platforms, and up structures in an attempt to spill their foe’s blood across the floor which flows bright red in a kill bill style effect. Attacks vary depending on the direction of the controller stick and when twinned with jumping culminate in an amazing strike or a terrible mistake if the timing is off. There is no block button allocated to the controller however if both players strike at the same time they are repelled quite some distance away from one another without taking any damage.
If jumping out of the scenery to startle your friends wasn’t fun enough then there are also a few random pickups that can be used to your advantage. There are shurikens (throwing stars), caltrops (spikes that hide in the ground) and a teleport ability. We had great fun as a family playing around with the offerings! The arena has certain points whereby you can run off the screen and appear on the opposite side, this same mechanism works when throwing shurikens, therefore a player who is watching you does not necessarily see the fast travelling ninja star disappear and reappear coming straight for them from the other side. Their shock and surprise when they are suddenly dropped is brilliant! Caltrops work by causing the player to bleed when they walk over them, although this does not kill them it highlights where they are and also slows them down for a brief while, handy when playing Capture the Flag. Finally the teleport ability allows you to set a place to spawn whenever you give the word. This can be used brilliantly when being chased around the arena to quickly appear behind the enemy and strike first.
Matches are won based upon first to a set amount of kills when in deathmatch or in capture the flag it is won by a succession of flag captures that turn the arena into your colour, steadily giving you the advantage.
Using mainly black and white, the graphics are minimalistic however the way that the scenery is drawn in lovely brush strokes gives a very authentic feel of playing within an ancient Japanese period. The silhouettes of the characters are clean and tidy when travelling between contrasting colours and blend quickly into the background once you have stopped moving. Having been used to the colour scheme of the game it was very striking to then see bright red blood as it pools onto the floor in a Sin City/Kill Bill kinda way, it looked awesome.
A beautiful soundtrack of banging Taiko drums and woodwind instruments accompany the stunning visuals, helping to create the Japanese atmosphere that this game so requires. Sound effects, just like the rest of the game, are minimal and restricted to the sound of jumping, striking and deploying power ups, perfect as you definitely need your concentration at times!
We have been playing the game for the past few days and it has been a great hit with all of the family. It is refreshing to come across a game like this that appears so basic, neat and tidy but yet holds the appeal of all that play it. The game is brilliant when playing against human opponents but I would say that although there are AI bots that can fill the gaps if you so desire, it would be great to be able to alter their difficulty as currently they are pretty easy to defeat.
If playing against the family was anything to go by then playing online is going to be great fun! Everyone will play differently, have their own approaches to the various maps and how best to use stealth and powerups, I seriously can’t wait for the servers to go live.
I give Black & White Bushido the Golden Thumb Culture award!