Bloody Roar (PlayStation) review
"Fighting games these days often need a gimmick to set them apart from the madding crowd. If you’re not Streetfighter, Tekken or (bleh) Virtua Fighter then you're going to have trouble attracting your average gamers attention. SO some pretty outlandish concepts have been tried out over the years. King of the ridiculous beat 'em up concept it Bloody Roar. This sees you start a fight as a normal human, then as you take a pummelling you gain the ability to change into an animal/human hybrid. This is..."
Fighting games these days often need a gimmick to set them apart from the madding crowd. If you’re not Streetfighter, Tekken or (bleh) Virtua Fighter then you're going to have trouble attracting your average gamers attention. SO some pretty outlandish concepts have been tried out over the years. King of the ridiculous beat 'em up concept it Bloody Roar. This sees you start a fight as a normal human, then as you take a pummelling you gain the ability to change into an animal/human hybrid. This is a temporary state of affairs that lets you dole out a far more vicious slapping and tactical timing of your transformations can mean the difference between an triumphal win or a humiliating loss.
I have to say this concept appealed to me on a deeper level as it reminded me off top quality TV show ''Manimal'' from the 1980's. Obviously you all remember this as a super fine detective show, which saw Jonathan Chase (a New York professor of Criminology), gain the ability to change into various animals and solve mysteries. Strangely for such a great programme it only ran for seven episodes, but those were enough to leave their mark on me, and maybe the designers of this game. Changing into animals = good. Rucking with other animal people = even gooder.
And what animals you can turn into! The usual dull old creatures like Tiger and Wolf are represented. But there is also the hilarious butch lady who changes into a warthog and the undoubted star is Alice who will transform into a psychotic pink rabbit on activation of her beast mode. The comedy potential is not wasted as she leaps high in the air and pummels her unfortunate opponent with her big rabbity feet. Alas, none of the pugilists change into a sheep, but you can't have everything.
The actual fighting engine is pretty good. Characters tend to be a little samey in their human forms. However in Beast Mode they all stand out from one another and are all fun to play with. Some are easier to grasp than others, for example Yugo (wolf) is the square jawed, easy to use, hero character. Mitsuko (warthog) is the slow, heavy hitter. Alice (bunny rabbit) is the fast/weak girlie character etc. (Yes we're back in the big book of Fighting Game Clichés chapter one - character stereotypes).
Although the general fighting engine is geared more towards mashing than finesse, much of your tactics can be based around when to activate Beast Mode. Your beast gauge will gradually fill as the fight wears on, but you can wait for it to power up even longer if you dare. The more power in your beast gauge, the longer you can stay as a beast and access all the extra moves and power. So it’s really a trade off, transform briefly and try and win the match quickly, or wait it out and beat the opponent down in the later stages.
Graphically Bloody Roar is similar to Tekken 2. The character models are fairly squared off, but they move very nicely and the lighting and ring designs are great. The rings are walled and bouncing opponents off the sides and pinning them against the walls can do damage. The Beast models are particularly good and attention has been paid to the movement and demeanour of each beast. It has to be said that graphically, its own Playstation sequel surpasses this game, although the gameplay remains similar in both versions.
Modes wise the game is a tad disappointing. The Story mode is perfunctory and the character endings are a little vague and some make no sense at all. You can unlock plenty of secrets though, which mainly relate to changing the ring options and activating cheat modes. Frankly single player mode isn’t that great to warrant the multiple play through all the secrets need to be unlocked. However in two-player this game is a blast. Because the fighting is relatively simple, casual gamers easily pick it up. The beast transformations give it a crowd-pleasing edge as well. While it may not have the depth to keep a fighting game nut happy for long its still a fun one to pull out for beat 'em up games night when you want something flashy, loud and raucous to entertain your mates.
Summing up, this is a fun and underrated beat 'em up. I feel a score of 7/10 is appropriate as it is not the best beat ‘em up on the psx by a long shot. However it is an original and fun addition to the genre and I would recommend you pick this or its sequel up if you see them second-hand. They may not have the longevity of more serious beat 'em ups, but for a slice of pure arcade style silliness, they are hard to beat.
Community review by falsehead (March 08, 2004)
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