Plasma Sword: Nightmare of Bilstein, released in Japan as Star Gladiator 2: Nightmare of Bilstein (スターグラディエイター2 Sutāguradieitā Tsū ) is the 1999 3D weapon-based fighting game released by Capcom for the arcades. It is the sequel to Star Gladiator and runs on the ZN-2 hardware, an improved version of PlayStation-based ZN-1 hardware its predecessor ran on. A Dreamcast port was released in 2000.
The control system from the first Star Gladiator was reworked and rebuilt for the sequel. Much like the first game, players are given an arsenal of four usable buttons. Two of the buttons are attacks for a fighter's weapon while one button is used for a kick attack and the final button enables a "guard defense", which in turn could allow a character to either use a Plasma Reflect or a Plasma Revenge tactic against their opponent. The Plasma Combo System was discarded in favor of the Plasma Strike System, in which all characters have a Super Meter (similar to the ones found in Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Darkstalkers) and that they can raise it to level 3, enabling them to pull off super moves called Plasma Strikes. Unlike the first game, fighters are able to battle on an endless 3D plane, meaning that ring-outs were unavailable upon sight. Like other 3D fighting games, set combos were implemented through tapping a specific sequence of buttons. However...characters could perform special moves from within the combos themselves, akin to 2D fighting games (similar to the treatment found in the Street Fighter EX series).
One new tactic introducted from within Plasma Sword is that characters were granted a special skill called a Plasma Field. With the use of one level from the super meter, the character who activates it will emit a sphere of Plasma energy around them. If the opposing character is hit by it, the playing field will be temporarily boxed in with four invisible walls, making escape from the Plasma Field difficult. The effects of the skill vary with each character, ranging from infinite Plasma Strikes, growing to gigantic sizes, and even stopping time.
With the exception of Rimgal and Kappah, the remaining characters of the original Star Gladiator return for the sequel. The 10 returning characters are joined by 14 new characters, in which 10 of the new characters are considered to being "mirror images" of the returning ones while the remaining two have their unique fighting styles. The 10 "mirror image" characters share the same weaponry, attacks, and Plasma Fields of the original cast, but each "mirror image" character have their own unique Plasma Strikes, new design, and original story. There are two hidden characters from within the game and can only be played through the use of a code.
The arcade mode of Plasma Sword has the player going through eight stages of combat. Upon reaching the fifth stage, the player's character will encounter a mid-boss that further advances the story of the specific character. Once the player reaches the eighth and final stage, they will battle against a specific final boss for their character. Depending on the performance of the player from within the duration of arcade mode, the specific character will have a unique ending. If the player has to continue while fighting their eighth opponent or during earlier competition, they will have an abridged (false) ending. A one-credit play with no continues will reward the player with an extra fight against another specific boss character - which is safe to continue from - and an extended conclusion that is considered to being the "true" ending of the character.
In the epic battle of the Final Crusade that occurred from last year, Hayato Kanzaki had slayed the evil Dr. Edward Bilstein and brought the end of the Fourth Empire's terror and destruction throughout the entire galaxy. The fall of the Fourth Empire and the death of its leader were momentous occasions of last year and that it signaled the restoration of peace and happiness, but all is not well in the galaxy. Rumors have been circulating about the unexpected return of Bilstein in a new cybernetic body and the appearance of a ghost who eerily looks like Bilstein's old cybernetic body. At the same time, the Fourth Empire has taken the opportunity in rebuilding its forces and the loyal members of the organization are determined to carry out Bilstein's will of eliminating those that stand in the way of their master's galaxy conquest. Hayato, June, Saturn, and Gamof realize that the threat of Bilstein is far from over and that the four of them must head back into combat in order to defeat Bilstein and the Fourth Empire once and for all. However...the quartet is not alone in their second struggle as they have new friends to assist them in the matter, including the strong war soldier Gantetsu, former enemy turned ally Zelkin, the aspiring hero Eagle, and a mysterious young girl named Ele. Hayato and his friends will find themselves heading back into the hard ordeal as Star Gladiators, Fourth Empire members, and neutral parties will be thrust into a war that will determine the fate of not only the Earth, but the entire galaxy. The Nightmare of Bilstein has now begun.
- Hayato Kanzaki:
- Hayato is the main protagonist of the series who happens to be an intergalactic bounty hunter that wields a Plasma Sword. He defeated Bilstein from the Final Crusade and has settled down with June, spending his days peacefully in rebuilding the orphanage with the bounties he earned. During the events from the first struggle against the Fourth Empire, he has also befriended Gamof, Gantetsu, Zelkin, and Saturn. One day after coming back home from another successful bounty hunting mission, Hayato is shocked to learn that June has suddenly disappeared with his friends telling him what happened. Hayato sets out to find her and to finish things with Bilstein once and for all.
- Black Hayato:
- In his last fight against Hayato, Bilstein had managed to implant some kind of "genotype" microchip in the hero. It eventually took control of Hayato and that the microchip had turned him into Black Hayato: a fighter with a cold and emotionless fighting personality, the opposite of the original Hayato's own personality. While he is evil, B. Hayato still hates Bilstein for what he did and that he'll attack and eliminate anyone who gets in his way through the use of his Plasma Sword. If the player beats the game with him, he'll try to kill June on sight, but the small bit of consciousness that Hayato has left will attempt to stop him. Should Black Hayato win, the effects of the microchip will remain permanent and that the real Hayato will be gone forever. It should be noted that in Gantetsu's ending, B. Hayato is shown as a separate entity from the original Hayato when he is actually in the former's body.
- June Lin Milliam:
- A skilled British gymnast who fights with a Plasma Ring. She settled down with Hayato after the events of the first game and developed feelings for him. When she heard of Bilstein's unexpected return, she painfully left him to avenge her father's death and to prevent the monster from hurting anyone else she has cared about. Hayato eventually catches up to her and shields her from a blow from Bilstein's ghost, angering June to defeat the fiend for good.
- A mysterious young girl who traveled from a distant future. She was taught how to fight by her mother and fights with a Plasma Ring. In her time, Bilstein's ghost - who was obsessed with his hunt for Hayato - attacked Ele's home. The status of her father is unknown but her mother had died during the incident. As she has a time limit of how long she can stay in the past, Ele hurries to vanquish Bilstein's ghost and prevent the event from ever happening. She is highly implied to be Hayato and June's daughter. Ele makes a cameo appearance in one of Hayato's win poses in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and in Felicia's ending in Capcom Fighting Evolution.
- Saturn Dyer:
- A green skinned alien with a cone-shaped head who is quite the joker and fights with Plasma Yo-Yos in combat. He is often considered to be the comic relief of the series and that he always has a calm yet friendly personality to those that meet him. He hails from the planet of the same name (though not the one we know in our solar system) and that he's known for being a popular street performer in his homeworld. Upon hearing of his planet's downfall to the Fourth Empire, Saturn goes along with his friends to defeat Bilstein and to save his fellow people and family.
- The royal prince of the Planet Saturn, Saturn Kuida-Ore the 3rd fights with a special set of Plasma Yo-Yos and his own unique style of elegant performances. He grew jealous of Saturn as he got more attention from the citizens of the planet and within time, he had developed a strong determination to beat Saturn and prove that he's a much better street performer. After adopting the alias of Prince, he allies himself with Bilstein and uses the Fourth Empire's influence as a front for chasing his own rival.
- Gamof Gohgry:
- Gamof is a brown-furred alien woodsman who happens to be the leader of the people of the forest planet De Rosa and that he fights against all threats with his Plasma Axe. While Gamof is considered a strong and benevolent leader to his fellow people, he is challenged by an evil contender (who is playable as a palette swap) who works for the Fourth Empire. Gamof fights to ensure his planet's safety and to help his friends in battling against Bilstein and the Fourth Empire. June visits Gamof and the planet many years later with her young daughter Ele, saying that Earth has no real nature left.
- Gantetsu is a heavy drinker and extremely strong soldier who wields his own Plasma Axe in battle. Though he lacks strategic thinking, Gantetsu makes up for it with his tough stamina and relentless endurance in pure combat. Under orders from his superiors, Gantetsu is given the mission of tracking down Franco Gerelt for his war crimes against humanity. Upon managing to capture Gerelt and learning of his tragic story, Gantetsu quickly forgives him and takes him to a bar for a victory drink.
- Franco Gerelt:
- Gerelt is a Spanish matador who happens to be an expert fencer that fights with a Plasma Rapier and that he values honor from within the fights that he participates in. During the events of the Final Crusade, Gerelt was captured by Bilstein and had a bomb implanted in his chest, forcing him to join the Fourth Empire in hopes of not only stopping the bomb and defeating Bilstein, but also to rescue his wife and daughter, who were kidnapped by the villain. He committed heinous crimes against humanity in a reluctant manner and even when Bilstein was defeated by the forces of good, he hesitated to return to his family, who were rescued safely by the Earth Federation forces. However...Claire's sacrifice and his wife and daughter's love convinced him that everyone can be forgiven in the end and that Gerelt was able to move on in his life with his family, putting his hard ordeal behind him.
- Claire is a long-time friend of Gerelt and works with him under Bilstein. It is unclear of why Claire had joined the Fourth Empire, but it is speculated that something tragic had happened to her in the past and that she saw the Fourth Empire as a way of escaping her inner pain. In battle, she is known as Scarlet Del Sol and is a master at fencing, using her precise skills and Plasma Rapier to mercilessly defeat her opponents. Unlike Gerelt, she is very loyal to her master and holds the button to the bomb planted in Gerelt. Upon learing about Gerelt's revolt against Bilstein, Claire confronts him and demands an explanation from Gerelt, leading to a battle between the two fencers. Before Claire can make her final move against Gerelt, Luca confronts them unexpectedly, under orders from Gore to eliminate Claire. When Luca explodes from a plasma energy overload due to the intensity of the match, Claire shields Gerelt from the blast and dies in his arms. It is implied from within Claire's last words that she may have developed feelings for Gerelt during their time together in the Fourth Empire and that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.
- An emotionless robot created by Bilstein to become the ultimate killing weapon that wields a Plasma Gun. Bilstein implants a program to make the robot self-evolutionary and unleashes it to test its potential abilities against his enemies. Should Vector prove successful in its mission, Bilstein will then unleash an army of Vectors to destroy anything against him.
- An older prototype of the current Vector model who also wields a Plasma Gun, it was long deemed faulty by its creator for being too compassionate. After hearing that it has a "heart", it searches to know what it is before its energy runs out. After failing to gain answers from Bilstein, it encounters Ele who thinks it is another killer Vector. She soon realizes its true nature and explains that the "heart" the robot wants is something that is felt. As soon as Omega figures out what she means, its energy runs out. Years later, Omega is found by a pack of kids, one of who points out that the robot is smiling.
- Zelkin Fiskekrogen:
- An avian humanoid hailing from the planet Klondike who uses flight and a Plasma Blade in battle. His race are valiant warriors and treasure honor and power found in true battle. His former alliance with Bilstein was formed because of his hatred for humans, due to their past prejudice against his people. However, after fighting Hayato from the Final Crusade, he found that Earthlings had honor as well. Feeling responsible for the tragedy he has caused, the warrior had defected from the Fourth Empire  and was obligated by honor to "repay the debt" to Hayato and his friends. If Zelkin fights and wins against Hayato, he will give him one of his head feathers as a sign of respect.
- Eagle is an ordinary man who used to work as a pretend superhero at Gorakuem Amusement Park  with a pair of artificial wings. The tyranny that Bilstein caused had motivated him to become a real hero of justice and that he'll express it in a typical superhero fashion while he wields a Plasma Blade in battle. It is suggested that Eagle is Capcom's in-joke character as he'll claim that he is the real Zelkin, harking back to past hero films where animal characters were actors in a suit.
- Gore Gajah:
- A strange and unusual sorcerer with an enigmatic appearance who fights with both a Plasma Mace and Plasma Magic. In his never-ending research for Plasma energy, Gore had joined Bilstein's Fourth Empire as Bilstein had a large library of forbidden Plasma info. However...Gore had planned to secretly betray Bilstein and take everything for himself. His plans go awry when Bilstein commands him to retire the artificial girl he made, because Bilstein had feared about the possible security threat that Luca had posed to him and the Fourth Empire. Gore had rebelled against Bilstein's command and went into hiding with Luca. To avoid easy detection, Gore had changed his appearance with Plasma Magic and went into leisurely seclusion, possibly marrying Luca as well.
- An artificial girl made by Gore who also uses a Plasma Mace and Plasma Magic. She is her creator's fiancée  and is only dedicated to Gore. Though having a kind and cheerful personality, she has unusual sadistic tendencies and is naive to the concept of pain and death, killing other people as if it's a game. Omega will not recognize her as "human", sending her into denial about her existence. If Bilstein tells her that she isn't human, Luca's mind will reach its breaking point and she will unintentionally murder Gore.
- Blood Barbarians:
- A European man who previously worked under Bilstein with a robotic arm and a Plasma Sword. The brainwashing that Bilstein cast on him wears off and the warrior regains his freewill. Much to his dismay, the damage has been done and is irreversible; his left arm is dependent on Bilstein's existence and he has killed far too many innocent people. Sickened by the microchip that controlled him, Blood heads to the tyrant's side in a mission of eliminating Bilstein once and for all. He walks on a path of mortal redemption, intending to kill Bilstein and himself for the sins that were committed in the name of the Fourth Empire. If Blood is the one to defeat Bilstein, the place where they fought will begin to collapse and he will sacrifice himself to lessen the reactor's explosion in order to save the Earth and its people.
- One of the many clones of Blood who strangely shares his progenitor's levitating arm and Plasma Sword. The group of clones bicker over the identity of the original Shaker and a specific one sets out to prove who's the original. All Shakers love punk music and especially love guitars.
- Dr. Edward Bilstein:
- A powerful tyrant and mad scientist who wields a Plasma Sword and leads the Fourth Empire in his universal conquest. Bilstein was killed in the Final Crusade by Hayato, but was able to transcend his spirit to a new cybernetic body and lives again. After rebuilding his forces and conquering other planets, he once again resume his plans for complete domination of the galaxy. Bilstein particularly focuses his efforts on Earth: the planet that evaded him the first time.
- Ghost Bilstein:
- Bilstein's old cybernetic body that was discarded after Bilstien himself was able to transcend into his new cybernetic body. For an unknown reason, it gained a small bit of Bilstein's consciousness and that it was able to live once more without its previous host. It is an unthinking entity who wields a Plasma Sword and is purely obsessed with slaying Hayato, eliminating anyone who gets in its way. If Ghost Bilstein defeats Hayato, it will deem Hayato as too weak and will continue on its relentless rampage, destroying anything in its path to find the "real" Hayato. Ghost Bilstein makes a cameo appearance in Tekkaman Blade's ending in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, where he's about to beat Blade, until Hayato comes to Blade's rescue and assists him in battling against Ghost Bilstein.
- Bilstein's beautiful and ambitious daughter  who wields ice powers and a Plasma Scythe. She was sent by her father to capture all of the male Plasma masters and imprison them at Bilstein's lair. Later, her father had planned to use their DNA - Hayato in particular - and impregnate his own daughter, making her the mother of "New Human Beings" - people who would hypothetically have unstoppable Plasma power  to the point of easy world domination. If she succeeds her mission in defeating and subduing Hayato, Rain will find her father's plan boring and after beating her own father, Rain will nominate herself as queen of the universe with the men as her slaves.
- A young, sly kunoichi hired by the Earth Federation to seal the Plasma power of all the other Plasma fighters with her ninjutsu and a huge Plasma Hammer. When her benefactors turn on her, she escapes from their base with ease, but not before she steals all the money from their safe so that she can spend the rest of her days in complete luxury. Kaede is a secret character and can be played using a code.
- A mysterious tiger humanoid assassin who fights with incredible and dual Plasma Claws. He is a member of 'The Four Saint Beasts' (based on the Chinese constellations) which is created by the Union to foil Bilstein's plans. His mission is to destroy the source of the Plasma weapons and any wielder he meets. He is also suspected by Gantetsu to be the one who decimated his troop in a past incident. His win quotes suggest that he has a Zen-like nature. If he succeeds in his mission of defeating Bilstein, the Union will order Rai-on to execute him as he has become "too powerful" and a possible threat. Byakko escapes, saying he has much to live for and that he can't die just yet.
- Another member of 'The Four Saint Beasts' who has the same mission as Byakko and wields his own dual Plasma Claws. He is more vicious by nature and is a wrathful ninja. He is a lion humanoid and is essentially a color swap of Byakko with black fur - instead of white - with red eyes. His ending is similar to Byakko's - with him defeating Bilstein first and that Rai-on is then forced to battle against Byakko. Though Byakko escapes, Rai-on sends the other Saint Beasts to hunt the wounded Byakko down and that he'll anticipate another bout between him and his former teammate. Rai-on is another secret character playable through a code.
All sources cited from the 1999 Dreamcast port using official English translations.
- ↑ For example, Luca's eyes in both endings start dulled but Luca in her abridged ending: "Gore... Here you are! Let's go to earth and do some experiments, shall we?" and her eyes turn to normal; versus Luca in extended ending: "Gore... Gore...I love you so much...I almost feel like...Yes...Oh yes..." with her eyes still dull and an evil grin spread across her face
- ↑ Bilstien's ending when victorious: "Miracles don't happen twice, do they, Hayato Kanzaki?"
- ↑ All of these characters will be present in his ending, glad that he is safe.
- ↑ June's Ending: Hayato to June: "You have no idea how much Gamof and the others worried about you!"
- ↑ Black Hayato's ending: "Hmmph!...Hayato's consciousness is completely dead now...Rest assured Hayato. I'll take very good care of your body..."
- ↑ Outside reference from Marvel vs Capcom 2; Hayato's level 3 super; B. Hayato makes an appearance upon the finishing strike but reverts back to Hayato once finished
- ↑ Ele's Conversation with G. Bilstein: "You're the one who altered history... Mother's gone now."
- ↑ The final image in Elle's ending shows figures dressed a lot like Hayato and June.
- ↑ One of Prince's winquotes: "Yes! I'm the prince of the Saturn, Saturn Kuida Ore the 3rd!".
- ↑ Gerelt's story 5th match: Gerelt to Claire: "Claire! You're the one who has the switch to the bomb in my body!"
- ↑ Claire's extended ending: Claire to Gerelt: "I don't know...why...I saved you...But..I'm happy to see you're safe."
- ↑ Omega Story versus Bilstein: Bilstien to Omega: "Another defect? You lack any logic...Time to be scrapped!"
- ↑ Zelkin's winquote: "Krondyke people value honor. You have disgraced it and now deserve death!"
- ↑ Zelkin's winquote: "Your lack of power makes you unworthy to claim to be a warrior!"
- ↑ Zelkin's story on 5th match: Zelkin to Gerelt "Gerelt! Long time no see. Did you leave the 4th Empire as well?"
- ↑ Eagle's winquote: "Come and shake hands with me at Gorakuem amusement park! Opps! Force of habit..."
- ↑ Eagle's story 5th match: Saturn: "Hey... A Zelkin imitation? I'm impressed!"; Eagle: "Wrong! I'm Zelkin! A messenger from the sky!"
- ↑ Luca's story 8th match: Luca to Bilstien "What do you mean? I am human! Gore and I are to be married!"
- ↑ Luca's winquote: "What will happen if I cut your heart out while you're still alive? That will be exciting!"
- ↑ Blood's story 5th match: B. Hayato to Blood: "Well I am the same kind as you after all."; Blood: "What?! Then you're one of those brain washed pawns!"
- ↑ Blood's winquote: "Not bad but... you can't beat someone who's ready for death...!"
- ↑ G. Bilstein's story 8th match: Bilstien to G. Bilstein "Hm...My old body. An errant transmission during rebirth..."
- ↑ Rain's story 5th match: Byakko to Rain: "You're Rain...Bilstein's child."
- ↑ Rain's extended ending: Bilstien to Rain "Listen! Your mission is to become the mother of 'New Human Beings'......whose potential plasma power is unfathomably superior! You got that?"
- ↑ Byakko's winquote: "No distracting thoughts...You can't slash the moon on the water..."