Editor’s Note: Today we launch a brand new column called Pixel to Projector, by Dustin Hucks. It’s our way of staying at the center of where video games and film meet. For more, check out the Pixel to Projector homepage.
The five hundred year old Meikyokan Dojo, teaching the disciplines of Master Narukagami Shinto, is hidden within a large modern city; a secret society of assassins knows as Kage reside within. Utsusemi, an honorable swordsman, loses his position as leader of the dojo to the skilled fighter Hanzaki, in a fierce battle. Hanzaki gained respect as the head of Kage, until his discovery of the cursed sword Yugiri. He began to change; disregarding the honor and traditions held by the assassins and the students of the ancient dojo.
One day, a Kage escapes the confines of the dojo with its secrets. Several members of the society are sent to dispatch the defector…on penalty of death.
One of my all-time favorite original PlayStation titles, Bushido Blade was an exceedingly unique offering. The actual gameplay diverted from the norm in that battles could end immediately depending on the skill and timing of your opponent. There were no health meters, special attacks, or super powers. It was your blade against that of your foe; and it was brutal. A particularly strong blow could break an arm, forcing an opponent with a two-handed weapon to adjust to using one. If you were really good, you could break your opponent down slowly – taking out an arm, a leg…then another, until your buddy was reduced to rolling around on the ground impotently swinging his naginata at your feet. Also, double instant kills –badass. My favorite thing about two player-mode was that, if both of you were Bushido Blade masters, the game became more about deflecting blows and expert parries than it did wildly swinging steel at each other and hoping for the best. The combat became a chess match, both of you trying to read what the other would do next and attempting to think a move ahead. It made winning a battle that much more satisfying.
Gameplay aside, I loved that the story existed independent of my participating. I liked that I wasn’t always privy to the conversation; that some of these characters had long, intertwined pasts that resulted in cut-scene dialogue that was not tied to whether or not I knew what was going on. There was a feeling of history throughout the entire game, and it added weight to the combat and surroundings.
On that, Bushido Blade had beautiful scenery in which to attempt the impaling of your friends. Bamboo thickets, cherry blossom groves, sprawling castle ruins; the landscape was a treat for the eyes (considering the time, of course), and could play as much a part in your fight strategy as the weapon you chose. It could even cause damage if you didn’t respect it.
What it needs to make it filmworthy
Not much, honestly. Past fleshing out the major characters, the story base is already relatively strong, save for the distraction of a random member of Kage escaping the dojo. The story is really about the battle between the good and honorable that is Utsusemi, and the evil and tarnished that is Hanzaki. Most of the remaining characters simply choose sides. An easy as pie adjustment gives us our film:
Master Shinto entrusts his strongest pupil with the care of the cursed sword Yugiri, their superior character and strength giving them the ability to safely wield it. There is an annual tournament for this honor. Hanzaki, repeatedly beaten by Utsusemi, devises a way to cheat his way to victory. He succeeds, the sword further corrupts him – there is a conflict when the truth is revealed to Master Shinto. Hanzaki defeats the ancient master, and escapes with his loyal students to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world. Utsusemi pursues with his own pupils; the stage is set for epic sword-swinging goodness.
Find a way to keep the ‘on penalty of death’ part of their pursuit and keep the most interesting assassins from outside the fold to add an extra layer of drama, and you’re golden.
Click over to the next page to see who should be involved in a Bushido Blade film adaptation…