"Characters also benefit from the same visual strength. They move with surprising fluidity, just as they would in the hand-drawn cartoon. Sesshomaru leaping into the air, ethereal sword-whip winding about him before lashing forward in a graceful arc is truly a thing of beauty. Each character moves as he or she should, from the peppy movements of the fox demon Shippo to the methodical strikes Naraku manages (usually from a safe distance). The graphics arenít there just to look pretty, though."
If you really love your InuYasha and you donít mind playing games that arenít all that deep, just so long as they capture the general essence of the cartoon show, then youíre in for a treat if you pick up InuYasha: Feudal Combat for the Playstation 2. Unfortunately, everyone else should probably steer clear. The game is pretty. Your favorite characters are here. Itís justÖ well, itís not Tekken or Soul Calibur. Letís put it that way.
Certainly, developer Eighting canít be faulted for lack of effort. From the minute you start playing, itís obvious that someone wanted to make sure the game was true to its source material. Youíre introduced to the characters through a collage of action shots. Theyíre cel-shaded and polygonal, so at first they look a little bit odd, but youíll quickly adapt to the look and probably even find it pleasing.
The visual department really doesnít let up from there. InuYasha: Feudal Combat is quite simply one of the prettiest mascot fighters youíll ever see. Trees sway in gusting winds, purple haze rolls over the battlefield, mysterious demons fly in the background and so forth. More impressively, most of this isnít just a static backdrop. Rather, everything was rendered in such a way that as you fight through a given arena, the camera pans cinematically and you can see things from all angles. It really adds a lot to the fight.
Characters also benefit from the same visual strength. They move with surprising fluidity, just as they would in the hand-drawn cartoon. Sesshomaru leaping into the air, ethereal sword-whip winding about him before lashing forward in a graceful arc is truly a thing of beauty. Each character moves as he or she should, from the peppy movements of the fox demon Shippo to the methodical strikes Naraku manages (usually from a safe distance). The graphics arenít there just to look pretty, though. They really do bring the show to life. The first time I saw Shippo drop a top on his opponent, I was delighted. This was true for two reasons: firstly, it brought back memories of the show; secondly, it did some serious damage.
Each character has a special move that shouldnít come as any surprise if youíve watched the show. Mirokuís wind fist makes its obligatory appearance, while characters like Kagome and Kikyo prefer to attack with bow and arrows. In order to utilize these special moves, you have to time your attack so that you arenít slaughtered in the middle of the execution. Not only that, but you need to have charged up your power meter by first using normal attacks.
This is a necessary play mechanic because without it, InuYasha: Feudal Combat would be even simpler than it already is. A typical match consists of you mashing the Ďsquareí button as you push your opponent around the edge of the arena. Then, if youíre feeling frisky, you might execute a special move to drain your opponentís life bar. The only strategy involved is waiting until your foeís health is at a high point (characters generally must collapse three times before youíve truly won a match) before striking. More often, though, you wonít need to resort to using special moves at all, since tapping the one button is so likely to lead to success. Sure, there are other special moves you can use if you press other buttons along with your slow or fast attack button, but why bother when they arenít necessary?
The simple nature of the combat really is disappointing. Otherwise, this game pretty much rocks. Besides the great visuals I mentioned, there also are a lot of scripted scenes that benefit from solid voice acting. I havenít seen the English version of the cartoon, but it seems to me that the people who lend their vocal chords here are likely the same ones you hear evenings on the Cartoon Network. Certainly, the spirit of the characters is here. Youíll see and hear it throughout the ĎStoryí mode, which is the gameís attempt to make you play through more than once.
If you want to unlock the four hidden characters, youíll have to go through this mode repeatedly. At first, itís simple as you control InuYasha. Then you get to play as Miroku, then Sesshomaru. By the time you are going through as Shippo, the difficulty level has risen not because the enemies really fight any better, but because your available moves mostly suck. Itís sort of like playing through the original Street Fighter II as Dhalsim or Zangief; you just donít want to do it.
Still, I was thankful that each of the Story modes has its own plot arc. And again, theyíre true to the characters. Ultimately, I donít expect that InuYasha: Feudal Combat will win any awards, and it lacks the depth youíd want from a game you might play every afternoon after school. If you love the cartoons, though, and if you have a sibling or friend that feels the same way, you may have just found your new favorite fighting game. Give it a shot!
Staff review by Jason Venter (September 08, 2005)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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