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The Last Blade (幕末浪漫 月華の剣士 Bakumatsu Roman: Gekka no Kenshi , "Romance of the Bakumatsu: The Swordsman of Moonlight"), is a fighting game series created by SNK for the Neo Geo system. The Korean version of the game is known as "The Last Soldier". 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, and incorporates various elements of Japanese mythology (with a heavy emphasis on the symbology of the Four Symbols). 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).
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.
In the American version of this arcade game, the games opening story retains its original Japanese text and voice over.
All of the characters in the Last Blade series are of Japanese origin, excluding Lee Rekka, who is from China, and Yuki, who is from Russia. Some characters, such as Akatsuki Musashi and Lee Rekka, are based on historical or legendary figures. A number of characters from the Last Blade series also appeared in SNK Playmore's Neo Geo Battle Coliseum.
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 gameplay is characterised by two selectable fighting styles, and a unique combo system along with a "deflect" system which involves pressing the D button at an opponents attack. Upon deflecting, the opponent is left open to attack.
The two styles consist of two modes: “Speed” mode and “Power” mode;
Speed mode allows players to chain several normal attacks into a special or desperation/super move, as well as execute a "Speed Combo".
Power mode on the other hand, grants the player increased damage potential exponentially and giving access to "Super Desperation Moves" 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; canceling a special move into a desperation/super move (but not a desperation move, with the sole exception of Awakened Kaede in the first game).
The Last Blade games were extremely well received by Neo Geo fans, with many considering the series to be among the finest fighting games SNK ever produced (along with Garou: Mark of the Wolves). Both Last Blade games have proven enduringly popular in Japanese arcade game centers, the second game regularly featuring in fighting game tournaments.
- The Last Blade (幕末浪漫 月華の剣士 Bakumatsu Roman: Gekka no Kenshi , “Romance of the Bakumatsu: Swordsman of the Moonlight”)
- The Last Blade 2 (幕末浪漫第二幕 月華の剣士 ～月に咲く華、散りゆく花～ Bakumatsu Roman Dai Ni Maku: Gekka no Kenshi - Tsuki ni Saku Hana, Chiri Yuku Hana , “Romance of the Bakumatsu Act II: Swordsman of the Moonlight - On the Moon a Flower Blooming, a Petal Falling”)
- The Last Blade - Beyond the Destiny (幕末浪漫特別編 月華の剣士 ～月に咲く華、散りゆく花～ Bakumatsu Roman Tokubetsu: Gekka no Kenshi - Tsuki ni Saku Hana, Chiri Yuku Hana , “Romance of the Bakumatsu Special: Swordsman of the Moonlight - On the Moon a Flower Blooming, a Petal Falling”), a Neo Geo Pocket Color conversion of The Last Blade 2.
- Last Blade - The Destiny Beyond - SNK/Playphone Mobile Phone game by Hardcore 3D Wireless: http://www.hardcore3dwireless.com/h3d/h3d_lb.htm
- a mirror of Gekka no Kenshi series homepage by SNK Playmore
- Bakumatsu Roman Gekka no Kenshi 1-2 at SNK Playmore
- Gekka no Kenshi series at NBC Museum of SNK Playmore
- The Last Blade at Museum of the Game
- The Last Blade review at Neo-Geo.com, Part 2
- The Last Blade 2 review at Neo-Geo.com, Part 2
- Cassiel Kernell's Crysania Last Blade site
- SNK Wikia