Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: July 31, 2001
Everyone’s favorite shapeshifters are at it again, and this time the power that threatens them is far more sinister than the archetypical evil corporation. In the process of saving themselves, our zoanthropic (read: human shaped animal hybrids) heroes will have no choice but to fight their comrades, all the while battling the evil power that threatens to consume them. Coming to you from Activision and developed by Hudson Soft, this is the third installment in the Bloody Roar series; and it promises more characters, more moves and more interactive arenas than ever before. While it’s clear that Bloody Roar 3 is a “were-game,” the question is whether it can cleave a large enough niche for itself among the other PlayStation 2 fighters to avoid becoming a “where-game.”
While most arcade fighters simply dispense with plot altogether, this is one series that’s always gone out of its way to provide a bit more substance through a Story mode. The conflict between Tyron Corporation and Liberation Battlefront of the earlier titles has collapsed into obscurity as the world begins to accept and even nurture those with shape changing abilities. Not all is perfect for the were-creatures, however, as they have recently been stricken by a mysterious malady. At first, the malady seems like a blessing, and its first sign is a mysterious mark that appears on the body, which allows were-creatures to access new and incredible powers. Filled with this strength, many of these marked lycanthropes revel in their new powers until they are suddenly stricken with a crippling disease that always ends in death. Thus, with their political struggles suddenly at a rest, the heroes from the previous games discover that there’s no rest for the wicked as each of them finds the dreaded mark on their body. While their motives may differ, Stun, Busuzima, Yugo and the crew all set out to discover the source of the mysterious mark and a way to remove it.
You can find representatives from all segments of the animal kingdom in the cast of Bloody Roar 3, with Yugo taking on the role of the classic werewolf. From the wilds of Africa and Asia we find Shina the leopard, Long the tiger and Gado the lion. Also in the cast are more exotic creatures like Bakuryu the mole, Jenny the exotic bat, Stun the insect and, of course, Alice the white rabbit. Even more exotic than this is Xion, who is technically an “Unborn,” which manifests itself as a nearly robotic life form, complete with blades, spikes and armor.
Of course, it should be pointed out that the characters of Bloody Roar 3 don’t spend their entire time as a were-beast; they are able combatants in their human forms as well, each having mastered various disciplines of martial arts. There are distinct advantages to being a were-being, however, and players will want to spend quite a bit of time in animal form. First off, a small portion of the damage incurred while fighting as a human will heal back while transformed, so long as you are moving and not hiding behind your defenses. The bulkier animal forms are also more resistant to damage and can’t be knocked as high in the air by enemy blows. Your attacks also do more damage, and there are a whole new set of moves available that let you take advantage of your animalistic traits. Yugo, for instance, seizes his target in his lupine jaws and shakes them to cause damage, while Jenny’s wings allow her to seize her opponent and launch them straight into the air in a vicious throw.