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Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament (PlayStation 2) artwork

Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament (PlayStation 2) review


"Most gamers seem to believe that anime based games will be horrid no matter what. Although, every once in a while a game comes along that will defy this belief. Dark Tournament isnít one of those games. The sad thing is that there are many good Yu Yu Hakusho(from now on referred to as YYH) games in Japan. Yet for some reason only the bad ones were released in America. Oh well, enough of my history lesson. Youíre here to read about the game, not listen to me ramble on about the series. "



Most gamers seem to believe that anime based games will be horrid no matter what. Although, every once in a while a game comes along that will defy this belief. Dark Tournament isnít one of those games. The sad thing is that there are many good Yu Yu Hakusho(from now on referred to as YYH) games in Japan. Yet for some reason only the bad ones were released in America. Oh well, enough of my history lesson. Youíre here to read about the game, not listen to me ramble on about the series.

Letís get the good things out of the way first. For a fighter, this game has one of the best story modes Iíve ever seen. 14 year old Yusuke Urameshi is forced to compete in a dark martial arts competition, by a demon known as Toguro. If Yusuke refuses, Toguro will immediately kill him and everyone he knows. Yusuke has two choices, die or get stronger. Well, what would you choose? Yusuke goes off to train with his mentor Genkai, while the other members of his team all train together. Finally the day of the Dark Tournament arrives, and a ship full of demon teams arrives to pick up Yusuke and his team. Once they board; Yusuke falls asleep due to his hard training. However, Yusukeís team soon realizes that only one team is going to be allowed to leave the ship alive.

Sound intriguing? It should, as Iíve basically just summarized an episode from the anime. Thatís whatís so good about the story mode in this game. It actually feels like youíre playing through the plot of the Dark Tournament arc in YYH. This is mostly due to using actual clips from the series, and the voice actors all reprising their roles. Which brings me to my next point; the voice acting is phenomenal. The only problem I have is that there isnít enough of it. Most characters get a few in battle phrases and thatís it. Speaking of the characters; this game features a roster of 25 of your favorite Dark Tournament competitors. From demons like Hiei and Jin to humans like Kuwabara and Genkai; all of the popular characters are here. The downside is that the less popular characters didnít make it into the game, but still 25 is more than enough to please most fans.

Now itís time to get to the bad things; which unfortunately out weigh the good by a lot. The music is outright awful. While the clips from the anime all had good music; the in game music falls flat on its face. Every single original theme is repetitive, boring, and never serves to get your adrenaline pumping or anything. I didnít even notice it half the time. This is just a minor flaw though. What truly hurts the game is in fact the game play.

Think of the worst fighting game youíve ever played. Chances are you havenít seen anything yet. The core engine is literally the most flawed fighting engine Iíve ever seen. For instance, you can punch enemies that are on the other side of the ring sometimes. How Atari could have missed a glitch like that is beyond me. If that was their only mistake Iíd be more tolerant; however thatís not even the worst glitch. Have you ever fallen through an ďinvisibleĒ hole before? In Dark Tournament expect to fall through one at least once every 20 matches. Yes, the game is that glitchy. As if the glitches werenít bad enough; thereís something even worse than them. The controls are probably the least responsive Iíve ever seen in a fighting game. You can literally press the punch button with your head down, and then look up and watch your action being carried out. Being this unresponsive is unforgivable, and thatís not the only thing thatís wrong with them. Extremely powerful moves can be done as easily as tapping a button, leaving little room for depth; as it only takes a few minutes to fully master every character. Special moves are simple to pull off, and require no split second timing or practice at all.

Did I mention that the combo system is all out horrible? I guess not; well hereís the problem with it. Combos canít be stopped once started. You are forced to watch the animation play out, and canít change your strategy mid attack. Letís not even get into the idiocy of the AI. To win any battle just duck, block, and uppercut; the enemy will fall for this even on the highest difficulty setting. When all else fails; just pick Genkai as sheís invincible in this game. She canít be harmed while using Spirit Reflection Blast, and she can use it as many times as she wants to. Which brings me to the character balance issues. Certain characters are overpowered to the point that youíll never even use anyone else. Itís pretty sad that in a game with 25 playable characters, only around 5 are useful. Another huge flaw is the damage ratio. Two good combos are all it takes to defeat any opponent; in some cases only one good combo will finish your opponent. This results in battles that take longer to load than they do to play. Seriously, most battles can be won in 5 seconds.

My final gripe with this game is the graphics. To make it short; they just werenít up to the 2004 standard. The cell shading did make the game resemble the anime somewhat, but there is an obvious lack of detail. The characters are about as bland looking as possible. They have just enough detail to get by, but are far from good looking. The backgrounds are also fairly bland and lack any real atmosphere. On the plus side, backgrounds can be damaged by energy attacks; so that at least shows that the developers put some effort in.

As a whole the Dark Tournament video game is a poor excuse for a fighting game. All of its accomplishments are in the story and sound departments. While the game play is a complete mess and the visuals are nothing special at all. For a fighting game this just isnít acceptable. How many people do you know that play fighting games for story or voice acting? Although, I suppose the story mode alone will attract some hardcore fans, but really you could just watch the anime to see the clips. The game is just a jumbled mess that I couldnít even recommend to diehard YYH fans. The actual fighting is the most important part of a fighting game, and this game just doesnít deliver by any means. Itís a pity as there were actually some good ideas; such as being able to take out and put away weapons. If the core fighting engine was better(and I mean much better) this could have been a solid anime fighter, maybe next time.

Rating: 2/10

brightshield's avatar
Community review by brightshield (March 27, 2007)

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