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The Last Blade (幕末ばくまつ浪漫ろまん, lit. "End of Edo Romance"),is a fighting game series created by SNK for the Neo Geo system. The title in Japanese is "End of Edo Romance: Swordsman of the Moon Flower". The Last Blade and its sequel are widely considered to be two of the most accomplished games available for the Neo Geo system, with fan opinion divided as to which is the better installment.

The game takes place during the late Tokugawa shogunate era in Japan (more precisely during the Bunkyū and Genji eras), and incorporates various elements of Japanese mythology. As such, the background music generally incorporates synthesized instruments simulating a sound appropriate to the 19th century setting, in a Western classical, pseudo-Romantic style (unusual for a fighting game). Many characters from the series take intentional inspiration from the manga, Rurouni Kenshin. Developers state that it was a friendly nod to the mangaka for being a well-known fan of the Samurai Shodown series.

Story

Illustration by TONKO

Long before humanity existed, in a far off time of myth, death was an unknown, equally distant concept, but when death first came to the world, the "Messenger from Afar" was born.

With time, the Sealing Rite was held in order to seal Death behind Hell's Gate. At that time, two worlds, one near and one far, were born. Thus the history of life and death began.

Half a year has passed since Suzaku's madness, and the underworld is still linked by a great portal. Kagami's great sin is still heard as if ringing from the heavens. Our world has been called upon. Legends of long ago told of the sealing of the boundary between the two worlds. The Sealing Rite would be necessary to hold back the spirits of that far away world.

However, the Sealing Rite brings together the power of the Four Gods and Sealing Maiden, for the first time properly completing the ritual.

To find the Sealing Maiden, Genbu began searching in the center of the world, from which all things begin. At the same time in the underworld, in the depths of darkness, many spirits conspired, plotting to hinder the Sealing Rite. They had but one wish, to be reborn into our world.

Plot

Here is the series' official timeline. Like the Samurai Shodown series, the chronology of the series takes place in the Edo period (in this case, during the last years of the period):

Year/Period
Japanese Era
Game
1863
Bunkyū Era (4th Year)
The Last Blade 1
1864
Genji Era (1st Year)
The Last Blade 2

Gameplay

The Last Blade series is seen as a spiritual successor to SNK's popular Samurai Shodown series, due to it being a similar 2D weapons-based fighting game. The game's mechanics are characterized by two selectable fighting styles, and a unique combo system along with a "deflect/repel" (Hajiki) system which involves pressing the D button at an opponents attack. Upon deflecting, the opponent is left open to attack.

The special moves are traditionally known as "ōgi" (secret skills) in the Japanese script, with the desperation moves/DM's being known as "Chō Ōgi" (Super Secret Skills).

The two styles consist of two modes: “Speed” Mode and “Power” Mode;

  • Power Mode (Ryoku mode in Japanese) grants the player increased damage potential exponentially (even with normal slash attacks inflicting chip damage on block, but causing weapon bouncing if a weaponized basic attack is blocked) and giving access to "Super Desperation Moves" (Senzai Ōgi/Latent Secret Skills in Japanese) which inflict an exorbitant amount of damage (the recommendations to performing them however, requires the player's life bar to flash and have a full power bar). Power mode also allows the player to perform Super Cancels (lit. Shōka/Sublimations in Japanese); canceling a special move into a DM (with the sole exception of Awakened Kaede in the first game who can cancel DM's into each other). Power mode always allows for the character's default color scheme when selected as of the second game.
  • Speed Mode (lit. Waza/Technique Mode in Japanese) on the other hand, allows players to chain several normal attacks into a special or DM (including chaining their weak slashes into themselves via a 'dial string' of sorts), as well as execute a "Speed Combo" (or the Ranbu Ōgi/Wild Dance Secret Skill in Japanese), which is a Deadly Rave-type DM that can start with a low attack or mid attack that can convert to three-to-four varying sequences of inputs unlike the source move of origin. Weaponized basic attacks do not bounce on block in this mode.

Interestingly enough, the first Last Blade game is probably the first SNK fighter to incorporate Special-to-Super-type Super Cancels into its game mechanics.

Games

  • The Last Blade (幕末ばくまつ浪漫ろまん 月華げっか剣士けんし, lit. "End of Edo Romance: Swordsman of the Moon Flower”)
  • The Last Blade 2 (幕末ばくまつ浪漫ろまん第二幕だいにまく 月華げっか剣士けんしつきはなりゆくはな, lit. “End of Edo Romance Act II: Swordsman of the Moon Flower - On the Moon a Flower Blooming, a Petal Falling”)
  • The Last Blade - Beyond the Destiny (幕末ばくまつ浪漫ろまん特別編とくべつ 月華げっか剣士けんしつきはなりゆくはな, lit. “End of Edo Romance Special Chapter: Swordsman of the Moon Flower - On the Moon a Flower Blooming, a Petal Falling”)
  • Gekka no Kenshi Gaiden ~ Akari to Nanatsu no Ayakashidama - pachislot side-story centered on Akari.
  • Bakumatsu Rouman: Gekka no Kenshi 1・2 - A compilation of the two titles in the series.

Characters

Introduced in The Last Blade

Introduced in The Last Blade 2

Characters' Participation

Trivia

  • This series and Art of Fighting series are the only SNK fighting game series to not have Dream Matches (non-canonical games).
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