For whatever reason, my favorite fighting game of all time has faded into obscurity. Likely the reasons I liked it so much are the reasons for its lack of enduring success.
Most people don't remember this game from the prime Playstation 1 years, but back in 1997, when fighting games were absolutely the dominant form of game, it stood apart.
Unlike nearly every game before or since, Bushido Blade didn't bother with life bars. Your attacks could have two effects. Wound or Kill. Some battles lasted a second or less. Because blocking was so very important, everyone who played the game got really good at it, and the results were amazing. Dodging, parrying, thrusting, and ultimately positioning yourself for that final blow. The battlefields were large and fairly plain (even for the time) but included a lot of cool touches. For example, in the bamboo forest, attacking too close to a tree would cut it down. Some battles would be put on hold for a bit of forestry, before the death-dealing could commence.
It included a fairly interesting solo adventure mode, but, like most fighting games, one-on-one duels where the highlight of the game. Ultimately, I think the lack of the expected life bar and the potential for really short games turned off too many players. Combine that with a sub-par sequel and a publisher that was more interested in making vast piles of money with Final Fantasy games and the book closed on this amazing and unique fighter. Bushido Blade never made the jump to the next generation.
Such is life...and violent, brutal, death.