Since childhood stealth ninja’s have always had their appeal, Kasumi of the Dead or Alive series more so than others, but even Shinobi, Ninja Gaiden and Tenchu have each forged their mark on the industry.
Just as your trying to work out what the last great ninja title was Black & White Bushido appears out of the shadows, but unlike those mentioned prior there’s no deadly protagonist, there’s actually not even a story, but it does promise a lot of fun.
Okay, so the introduction might sound a little confusing, so let’s take a look at the basis of Black & White Bushido, there’s not really a story as such, but the short opening sequence gives a brief glimpse of the battle between dark and light, two factions of deadly ninjas. Each are made up of 4 characters, an armour clad Samurai, a female character that probably most closely resembles a Geisha, a guy that looks reminiscent of a monk, and finally a male that looks very close to Raiden from the Mortal Kombat games.
The light faction are pencil drawn in black on a white background and the dark are white lines on a black base, it all sounds very simple, and I’ve already spent more time explaining than the game manages itself, but that’s part of the satisfaction of Black & White Bushido as each level is a accumulation of Black or White backgrounds meaning if the background matches your character, you’re invisible when still, it’s such a simple idea and thankfully it’s executed incredibly well.
From the main menu, there’s more simplicity as you choose either Online or Offline, there’s also Settings/Help, but this selection simply houses volume and contrast adjustments and nothing more.
Online takes you straight into the lobby set-up where you can select between Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, and select your stage from a choice of 6 (with one more ‘Hell’ locked initially), Offline follows a very similar setup but you select your characters first.
Once in the game, you’ll be greeted with a single screen setup with the background of choice, each stage has it’s own set-up of scenery and platforms and throughout the match various elements of the background will change from black to white and vice-versa.
The silhouette of your character stands out against the opposite colour, while positioning in the matching surroundings will see you merge into your surroundings even better than a chameleon, obviously out in the open (void of your protecting colour) you’re an easy target and enemies will aim for you, also movement even in your own background will show a faint outline meaning movement can be tracked with careful attention, but standing still, waiting in the shadows means you’re completely invisible and dashing sword attacks will make quick work of anyone foolish enough to misjudge your positioning.
I’s all as simple as Black and White, and while it doesn’t offer much depth, there’s a great party atmosphere, especially when playing against friends, similar to titles like iDarb it’s much more about the fun factor than presentation, intriguing story-line or depth, but I would have liked to see just a little more, more stages, more characters, or more variation. Attacks are split between a standing slash or a dashing slice, or throwing ninja stars, coupled with a jump and double jump that just about sums up the entire control scheme with the exception of pressing LT to locate yourself by showing your gamertag above your character (which is deadly obviously when playing split-screen)
Graphics are simply black and white, and there’s no major amount of detail anywhere, but there’s little touches, such as blood dripping from wounded opponents, which certainly makes you take note of where your stepping. Sound follows the same simple style with background music that suits the game, but never really lifts in tempo, meaning rather than a dynamic soundscape of murder and panic, it instead feels a little dissociated.
While Black & White Bushido, could have been so much better, and the offline ‘Challenges’ are merely ongoing objectives than any sort of fleshed out mode, the aim of the game is purely party style fun, and there’s only a handful of games that would join Black & White Bushido as a cheap thrill when you’ve got your friends round for a few drinks.
Online private lobby’s allow for friends only matches, but the initial flare will fade away (like a ninja into the shadows) meaning there’s limited longevity for solo players.