The title says it all, really. Black & White Bushido is a monochromatic multiplayer game where samurai of light or shadow duke it out in two-tone arenas. Developer Good Catch has ported its game over to consoles after an 18-month stint on PC, and with its unique gameplay, it could well slot nicely into gaming nights with a few pals.
Black & White Bushido is built on a singular concept of literally blending into the background. Before a match starts, you'll choose a colour and will be virtually invisible on the matching areas of the screen. Of course, you'll also stand out like a sore thumb anywhere else. The seven stages (including the unlockable Hell) all have light and dark patches, and these will shift during matches, keeping players on their toes and never allowing for any corner-cowering.
Deathmatch is the standard mode, with the first player or team to reach a set number of kills taking the win. There is also a Capture the Flag mode in which red flags will appear at random, and taking one will turn more of the screen your colour, giving you a distinct tactical advantage. If you’re playing alone, you can also take on the Challenge mode, which pits you against AI warriors as you chase down flags and clear a checklist of simple objectives, such as staying hidden for X number of seconds, or killing an enemy following a wall jump. It’s fun to start with, but beyond practice for the multiplayer main event, there’s little point in playing it.
Whichever mode you pick, matches can either be long, tense battles of wit and cunning, or over in a flash. Items that litter each stage can help keep things interesting. Shurikens can be thrown across the level and, like your regular attacks, are a one-hit-kill. Caltrops can be dropped wherever you please, and will slow down opponents who step on them. Finally, you can use smoke bombs to teleport to a predetermined spot, getting you out of danger or into a more strategic position.
The action moves at a fair lick, as the nimble characters can manoeuvre the single-screen stages with ease, and as we’ve mentioned, combat is a one-strike scenario. The only time an attack won’t kill your adversary is if they attack at the same time, resulting in the clashing of swords and both characters flying backwards. The controls are simple and responsive, and deaths are never the fault of anything outside of fair combat. It’s all balanced rather well, even with the shifting colours, and it’s always satisfying when you earn a kill from a plan well executed.
Unfortunately, if you do grow tired of the three modes on offer, there’s nothing extra you can do to extend the playtime. You can take the fight online, but from our experience, the player base is extremely slim at the moment; we were only able to join a couple of matches in the course of an evening. The online matches we did have were a little laggy but otherwise worked fine. It’s clear, though, that Black & White Bushido is best played locally with friends. It’s more than capable of producing those arm-punching moments that make local multiplayer special, and for some, that will be enough.
Black & White Bushido is a fun and unique multiplayer arena fighter that does just enough to keep players entertained. It’s limited in scope, but its tight controls and colour-based sneak-'n'-stab gameplay offer up a fun time with friends. This would be easier to recommend had there been more to keep you playing beyond the basic modes, but if you’re looking for something new to play with a few buddies, this could be worth a look.