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Review by: Jason Purdy
Published: October 9, 1999
If you’re anything like me, you’ve played a lot of fighting games over the years. Whether it be in the arcades or on our home consoles, we’ve tossed quarter after quarter and dollar after dollar into the flashing digital altars in our quests to convince our egos that we are, in fact, ninja masters. These offerings have ranged from the venerable Karate Champ to Tekken Tag Tournament, but each has had something missing. After finishing each title and following all of its characters’ storylines to their logical (and usually predictable) conclusions, I was inevitably left with a single question burning in my mind, “Who would win a fight between a tiger and a giant chameleon?” Bloody Roar 2 attempts to answer that question, and in the process it delivers one of the most enjoyable fighting games the PSX is likely to see.
BR2 is ostensibly the sequel to the smash hit Bloody Roar, also on the PSX. This series has taken the increasingly stagnant world of the fighting genre and turned it on its head, not by using the “Better Graphics / More Blood” mantra of the last few Mortal Kombat titles, but instead by adding something truly unique to the gameplay. Each of the fighters is what is known as a “Zoanthrope.” This is a sort of catch all term that includes werewolves, werecats, and pretty much any kind of half-human, half-animal combination the designers thought would be fun to throw in. The story unfolds similarly to the overall plot of the X-Men, in that these zoanthropes start popping up all over the world, and they are instantly persecuted by the human population as a whole. To protect themselves, some of the zoanthropes form the Zoanthrope Liberation Front, or ZLF. This organization soon shows itself to be a group of terrorists dedicated to zoanthrope superiority, which a small group of peace loving werebeasts must overthrow.
One of the most enjoyable features of this game is the sheer creativity that was inherent in the design team. Not willing to content themselves with the typical contingent of werewolves and beasties from myth, they went out of their way to put together one of the most diverse groups of were-things you’re likely to see outside of the Monstrous Manual. These can range from the overtly threatening, such as lions and tigers, to the unusual, such as bats and leopards, to more silly characters such as the chameleon, or the bunny rabbit pictured at right. Each of these warriors starts out human, but as the fight goes on, a meter at the bottom of the screen slowly fills up. Once it reaches a certain level, the player can press a button to transform into that character’s animal form, which has all of the same moves as the human version with the added benefit of a few extra moves, extra damage, and a faster regeneration rate.
When I first laid eyes on BR2, I thought the graphics were somewhat disappointing. The player models are a little bit blocky and less detailed than those in Tekken 3 and other competing offerings. As soon as the characters started moving, though, my attitude toward the graphics changed completely. BR2 is butter-smooth. The characters are extremely well animated, their attacks are complex, and the framerate never dips below 50 frames per second. This more than makes up for a little bit of blockiness when the characters are stationary.
I was also impressed with the wide array of moves that each character can perform. Each fighter has an arsenal of dozens of kicks, punches, throws and other techniques that can be strung together into some incredible combos, often scoring upwards of 20 hits at one time when executed correctly. They also each have their own special attack that can only be performed while in beast mode, and when used will turn you back into a human. If it hits, though, the effects are dramatic. The arena turns into a green wire frame to allow you a better view of the action as your character lays into his opponent with what will almost surely be a deathblow. In the example at right, you can see what’s left of Busizima high up in the air between the two life bars after suffering through one of Gado’s super uppercuts. Rest assured, before he hits the ground, the beating will continue with an elbow that will send him flying against the barriers surrounding the stage.
The only downside to this is that many of these special moves, along with some of the intermediate and more advanced combos, are nearly impossible to pull off. They involve some seriously long control sequences along with incredibly intricate series’ of button presses, all of which has to be pulled off at lightning speed for your hits to have any effect. This is alleviated somewhat by the game’s mapping of one of the controller buttons to the super attack, but the combos are still fiendishly difficult. Still, no one ever said that gaming was easy, and the same people who pulled off 80+ hit combos with Orchid in Killer Instinct will find a lot to like in BR2.
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