Important Importables Review: Bleach Heat the Soul 7

December 24, 2011 - 3:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports Review: Bleach Heat the Soul 7

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Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 PSP

Title: Bleach: Heat the Soul 7
Price: ~$60
System(s): PSP
Release Date: September 2, 2010
Publisher (Developer): Sony Computer Entertainment (8ing)
ESRB Rating: N/A, Cero A for All Ages
Pros: 84 different characters in the game and many are new to the Heat the Soul series, you can now fight giant characters, you can now take part in versus battles with four characters, you can trigger Tag Special attacks, can have single or tag team battles, there are multiple difficulty options and Soul Codes can improve characters/ Can unlock characters, Soul Codes, character art and voices. There are Story Mode, Hueco Mundo Conquest, Arcade Style, VS CPU, Soul VS and Training game modes. You can upload your Arcade Mode ranking to the website. Covers the Hueco Mundo, Zanpakuto and Karakura Town rescue storylines.
Cons: Not very many updates or improvements compared to Heat the Soul 6, only local multiplayer. You have to get certain rankings on certain chapters to unlock extra Story Mode levels.
Overall Score: 7/10

We see Namco Bandai bringing us new Naruto PSP games all the time, but have yet to see a Bleach: Heat the Soul game appear overseas. Somehow, it doesn’t seem fair. Thankfully, the PSP is region-free and fighting games transcend language, which means its fairly easy for people to import and enjoy a game like Bleach: Heat the Soul 7. However, while it is a good fighting game that is visually impressive, represents the Bleach series well and is fun to play, it doesn’t make the same strides forward as previous Heat the Soul entries. The result is a game that, while good, is okay to pass over if you’ve already purchased or played Heat the Soul 5 or 6.

Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 PSP

Finishing up business in Hueco Mundo, then heading off to save Karakura Town

Unlike some prior Bleach: Heat the Soul games, Heat the Soul 7 doesn’t attempt to cover the entire Bleach saga. In fact, it has one of the shortest story modes in the Heat the Soul series. It starts by covering the very end of Arrancar vs. Shinigama arc, where the fighting in Hueco Mundo ends. It then covers the entire Arrancar: Decisive Battle of Karakura Town arc and has one brief segment that covers the anime-only Zanpakutou Rebellion arc.

So in short, here’s what happens. Ichigo, his friends and a number of high ranking Soul Reapers went into Hueco Mundo, both to face Aizen and his Arrancar and Espada minions and rescue Orihime, who was taken hostage by Aizen. While the Soul Reaper Captains and Ichigo did manage to deal with some of the Espada, Aizen and some of his top ranking Espada followers took the fight to Karakura Town to destroy it. Everyone follows and, once Ichigo and his cohorts reach Karakura Town, they’re joined by the Vizards, Soul Reapers who went through the hollowfication process, who also want to help save the town. There is also a complementary story mode called Hueco Mundo Conquest which goes through pretty much the same story, only with a different viewpoint.

Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 PSP

Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 enjoyment levels rise and fall depending on how familiar you are with the series.

As with all Bleach: Heat the Soul games, Heat the Soul 7 is a 3D, cel-shaded fighter. You control one or two of the 84 characters in either a single, team or tag team battle. Of course, saying 84 is actually a bit generous, since a few of the characters are actually different versions of the same character. But still, it sounds impressive and it’d be a pain to go through that many characters, so let’s leave it as is. You can use various characters’ spirit pressure to unleash special moves. It isn’t terribly difficult to play or use combos, and anyone familiar with Street Fighter, Tekken and Naruto style fighting games should have no trouble jumping in and easily adapting to Heat the Soul 7.

Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 also offers a number of different battle options. As I mentioned, there is the standard one on one battle. You can also take part in tag team battles, where you pick two characters and either face off against one enemy or two enemies, switching between the two when necessary. Heat the Soul 7 also introduces battle royales to the series. In these, four characters fight at once, and are either divided into teams or take part in a free-for-all battle. It works really well, however the battles can tend to drag on a bit as the AI characters seem to be stronger than usual.

Another bonus is that there are a number of different game modes to choose from. Story and Hueco Mundo Conquest are both rather basic story modes. You go through scripted fights from the Bleach manga and anime series. Both are rather short, which is a bit of a letdown. What helps with that are the Arcade Style and VS CPU modes, which allow players to just take part in standard one on one, two on two or four character battles. If you can manage to find a friend nearby who also owns Heat the Soul 7, there is also ad-hoc multiplayer. A training mode is available to test out characters and perfect moves. However, most of these modes aren’t very substantial. You can easily clear both the story modes within a few hours and, while unlocking does provide some motivation to return to Heat the Soul 7, it doesn’t seem to provide the same incentive as earlier entries.

The biggest downside to Heat the Soul 7 is its remarkable similarity to Heat the Soul 6. While I didn’t purchase that particular entry, a friend did and so I had the opportunity to play both games. Aside from a few cosmetic changes and additional features, Heat the Soul 7 is essentially Heat the Soul 6. Even the menus and layout look practically identical. Yes, there were a few additions mentioned above, but for the most part all the returning characters look and play the same and the various gameplay modes are similar as well. Which means that Heat the Soul 7 is rather underwhelming if you’ve kept up with the series. If you haven’t, you’ll probably be fine. Before I borrowed my friend’s copy of Heat the Soul 6, I was enamored with Heat the Soul 7 because the only other entry in the series I had owned prior to that was the first.

Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 PSP

If character selection, minor adjustments and gameplay modes matter to you, this is your game.

As anyone who’s played more than one Bleach: Heat the Soul game has gathered, each entry is typically only slightly different than the one before. Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 is no exception. It’s a great game, but it makes only minimal improvements and upgrades over its previous entries. Granted, if you compare it to Heat the Soul 5 or one of the other earlier games, it’s great. But compared to Heat the Soul 6 not much has really changed. The character roster is slightly larger, you can encounter giant enemies, there are more tag team options and the four player battles are nice, but that’s pretty much it. Still, if you are looking for a Bleach PSP fighting game and have never purchased one before, Bleach: Heat the Soul 7 is the one you want to get. If you have Bleach: Heat the Soul 6 already, then you don’t need to upgrade.

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