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Is it me, or is the Dreamcast a console that attracts and encourages absolutely mad yet original titles? We have ChuChu Rocket!, Crazy Taxi and Space Channel 5! We also have a crazy little fighter called Power Stone. It certainly is mad, but it is also one of the most innovative titles of the last decade.
Utilising the Dreamcasts’ capabilities, Capcom have created a fully 3D fighting game with a difference. The environment around you is fully interactive, and you can roam around it freely! Cool! Now, you may be wondering what ‘interactive’ means in the world of Power Stone. Well, anything that is lying around can be used as a weapon, a method of defence or something to launch a devastating attack from! If you see a box, pick it up and chuck it at your opponent! If you see a pole, swing around it and kick that sucker right across the stage!!!
Also, there are things called Power Stones to collect (Hmmm . . . wonder where the title came from . . .) which can morph your character into a cool alter-ego, with absolutely devastating attacks! Each character starts with one Power Stone, and one will then appear at random somewhere in the stage. To morph, the player must collect all three Power Stones. Beating the crap out of the other player will successfully send his/her Power Stone flying across the stage, for you to take!
The stages are many and varied. From a Japanese bar, to a small shopping mall, there are plenty of places to ‘get it on!’ in, if ya get ma drift. These stages are fully 3D and the camera is perfect for the style of game, zooming in when the fighters get close, and zooming out when the combatants run to separate corners of the arena. One other thing that makes this game really stand out from others in its genre is the fact that the environments are fully interactive. Every box is ready to throw across the room to hurt your opponent, every pole can be swung round to unleash a deadly flying kick or can be picked up (by stronger characters) and used to whack around your competitors head. There are also many weapons that can be found in treasure chests. These weapons vary from steel pipes to flame throwers, from swords to bombs and from extending sticks to machineguns! All of these devastating weapons are either in the game, or can be won by completing the game.
That leads me onto the games lifespan. This game has A LOT of secrets (to tell you the truth, I haven’t even got them all yet)! You can win three new weapons for use in the game, two new modes of play (that aren’t really worth it…), VM games (whoopee!) and a couple of other special things that you win from the VM games. Also, you can get the boss characters and their stages if you complete the game so many times. It will take you ten completions to get everything the main game has to offer, and a bit longer to unlock the secrets the VM games hold.
The VM games, by the way, are cool! From Shruienken training with Ayame, to dog fighting with Falcon! There are three VM games in total, and they are all quite fun, a little distraction!
Now, what is most noticeable in the game are graphics and sound. The graphics, to start with, are amazing! They are smooth, colourful and cartoony, just right for this wacky fighting game! The characters are chunky and solid, each having their own moves and starting/ending poses, and the backgrounds are very detailed indeed! Just look at the Londo level as an example! It is great! Plus, the explosions are done very well, and add to the overall effect of the game. I just love that Rocket Launcher!
The sound is also good, with all the shouting, screaming and bone-crunching going on! It is just mad! The music is not too bad either, and compliments the ferociously fast gameplay.
To conclude this review, I must say that this game is so close to perfection it is unbelievable. There are only a few things that could do with a tweak or something similar. The size of the levels is a bit too small, so maybe Capcom could develop these for the sequel. Also, in my opinion, there were not enough characters. While the characters there were very good, and had their individual draws, a few more characters wouldn’t have gone amiss. Also, the main point is that there aren’t enough modes to hold your attention for that long, and they can get tedious if you play them for a while. The attempt to add more diversity with the third-person view modes was laughable, but at least an attempt at variety, I suppose. Other than that and the annoying voice introducing EVERYTHING, this game is a masterpiece. The few flaws are simply me nit picking, and therefore this game should not be brought down by them. They are not even really flaws, really!
"A very cool game, that really makes its mark on the Dreamcast. Well worth owning if you like crazy, original fighting games!"
I have to agree with Andy on this one. The graphics are fast paced, perhaps a little too fast as I found myself having to stop play from the frantic action due to headaches! The smoothness is like a baby’s bottom and the learning curve is great. But for me that’s where it ends…once you have mastered the game there is little for you to go back to. It becomes boring and tedious. However…the two-player mode is a riot and will keep you going for ages, if you have friends…which sadly me and Andy do not! The sound feels like you’re in an arcade but the one major problem I had with the game was the special moves. They look awesome, but you get no real satisfaction when you pull them off, all it takes is a simple button and that’s it. Where is the fun in that? Overall though, if you want a fresh look at a beat ‘em’ up then Capcom has done the job with Powerstone.
8/10 - A great game to own and is worthy of your shelf space.
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