When you go to an event like EGX, it is very easy to expect to be blown away by the new and shiny “triple A” titles on display, most of them have been covered in depth since their announcement on most of the gaming news sites. A lot of this year’s titles had already been seen/played by many on various beta/stress test weekends and the like. And even going with our exciting new press passes aiming to be subjective, you still have games that you’re looking forward to playing either for the first time, or again to get a little extra glimpse.
So while you might expect some of those big titles to be the highlight of the event, this time, for me at least, this was not the case. That’s not to say I wasn’t blown away by Star Wars Battlefront, and it goes without saying I loved Street Fighter V. But my top pick for the whole event, was a little gem I was surprised to find in the Rezzed indie game section.
Black and White Bushido is amazing. Simple as that! It is simple, unadulterated fun. That’s not to say it is the perfect game, or that it is revolutionary or any of that. I recently attended an indie developer meet/presentation (you can read Bropher’s review of that here). At which the main speaker made a very important point about the best games having one key mechanic, and doing that very well, rather than having a whole load of mechanics that are all ok. Jack of All Trades, Master of None – and all that jazz.
Black and White Bushido, by Ground Shatter and Endemol Shine, keeps it simple. Pick your warrior of choice, select if you’re going to be black or white and fight, there is a jump button, an attack button and an item use/flag capture button. And then it’s a 2D platform team death match or capture the flag. With the main “mechanic” being that black warriors can blend in with black backgrounds and white warriors with white backgrounds. In many ways it reminded me of classic Bomberman. In that it is simple, but good use of tactics and a dash of skill and you have something special. It is also a game where timing is everything as you can hide within your shadow and light picking your time to strike or you can go on the offensive and put pressure on your opponent. Either way, if you have a few friends over, it could get competitive really quickly!
I daresay my description of the game and its mechanics don’t really do it justice, and probably don’t really sell it that convincingly. But hopefully the trailer and some screen shots will pique your interest; ultimately it is a game that probably needs to be played to really get the full effect. Lefranzine and I went back to the boys at the Black and White Bushido stand multiple times over the weekend, and even entered a pairs tournament (where we came a very close second overall!). Ben and all the gang at the stand were great to talk to about the game, mainly because it is theirs. They have worked very hard to bring this to life and seeing players, like ourselves, willing to come back again and again for another slice of the action shows how enjoyable it is.
The game gets the important things right, it is simple, easy to pick up, a lot of fun and yet if you put a bit of practice in you’ll notice the difference the skill makes. The graphics, while only really consisting of 5 colours, are crisp due to not over extending themselves like many indie games do. The controls for the most part responded exactly as I wanted and it plays fantastically as the local multiplayer “party” game it was designed to be. (I use “Party” game very loosely, it is nothing like Mario Party =p). The controls themselves are pretty straight forward, which is a good thing as too many buttons mean that any button mashing mistakes may cost you. Aside from jumping, dash attack and standard attack, you do have some pick ups/items which can come in handy like throwing stars for longer range attacks or caltrops to slow down your opponent if they stand on them or reveal their whereabouts. And if you lose your characters (which can happen), you can show your location so you don’t spend precious seconds thinking you’re someone else.
However that final good point is also one of its main downsides though. Currently the game is only available on PC through Steam. Not many people will have two, let alone four PC compatible controllers to really get the multiplayer going. At the time of EGX the developers had spent their budget and weren’t able to promise online play, but it was something they wanted to look at should sales prove good enough.
Black & White Bushido would be a perfect title for PlayStation Plus, much like how Rocket League saw fantastic popularity because it was simple, easy to pick up and a lot of fun, I imagine Black & White Bushido would do the same, given online play for single and paired play and the huge audience that PlayStation Plus has would make this game skyrocket. But currently trapped on Steam, with no online multiplayer, I fear this game will miss the recognition it truly deserves! Currently it is only £6.99 on Steam, and I think is definitely worth picking up and trying out. Or at least add it to your wish list and keep an eye out for it in Steam Sales or Humble Bundle deals. I really hope they can add online play to this in the future, and fingers crossed they can port it over to console as well.
For now, Black and White Bushido can be found here