"The Gamecube hasn't had the best success in the fighting genre. Soul Caliber 2 and other multiconsole ports have dominated a market with only one prominent first party fighter, Super Smash Brothers Melee. Based off this logic, Hudson's Bloody Roar: Primal Fury, a basic rehash of its Playstation 2 counterpart and the third installment in the Bloody Roar series, attempted to take its slice of the pie. On one end of the spectrum, the release provides a responsive and beautiful entry for the genre s..."
The Gamecube hasn't had the best success in the fighting genre. Soul Caliber 2 and other multiconsole ports have dominated a market with only one prominent first party fighter, Super Smash Brothers Melee. Based off this logic, Hudson's Bloody Roar: Primal Fury, a basic rehash of its Playstation 2 counterpart and the third installment in the Bloody Roar series, attempted to take its slice of the pie. On one end of the spectrum, the release provides a responsive and beautiful entry for the genre starved Gamecube. Still Hudson’s effort falls short mainly due to its inability to add anything new and exciting to the genre.
The lacking story is where all the woes begin - an annoyance fighting fans should be getting used to by now. In short, an unnamed nation of Zoanthropes, a special race who can transform into seemingly steroid pumped animals, have created a tournament for their own race. The fighters not only are competing for cash but, unbeknownst to them, this nation is secretly experimenting on the winner to further their combat abilities. Killing off the entire human race is the overall goal of the Zoanthrope government. As you can see, there's great framework for a solid storyline but, sadly, it never digs deeper then the bland background the instruction manual provides. Even the character endings don't slip the player much information. Instead, the short, cryptic videos never coherently explain how the characters relate together, let alone to the overall plot.
With story aside, Primal Fury is plagued with problematic mechanics fighting games of today should have down. The first of these problems is character imbalance. Granted some characters are more popular and are therefore the most powerful; unfortunately, it’s more than a simple power struggle. Characters such as Shenlong and Urika have long continuous combos that, if not blocked initially, could easily last the duration of the match. Obviously such tactics won't allow the opposing player to throw a single punch, leading him or her to a frustrating death. Also some characters have at least one devastating attack, which can't be blocked; these tactics tend to promote using a single move to win and drags down the experience as a whole.
As a direct outcome from this imbalance, the A.I. will seem cheap and relentless. In fact, the computer's ability to easily pull off the uninterrupted combos is exactly what points out the character imbalance in the first place. The computer also has a knack for executing the unblockable moves to full effect, leading to some pretty lop sided victories on the A.I.'s part. Despite its cheap play, the A.I. does deserve credit for using the fighting system to the fullest.
Much of the gameplay remaining feels recycled from the genre's past. The combo system for instance is fast, repetitive, and simple, allowing any button masher a quick win. A decent throwing system is also included but it hardly feels needed when pressing B, B, B is so much easier. The titles only distinction comes in the form of the series trademark Beast Mode - a feature allowing the Zoanthrope fighters to use their beast forms. Unfortunately, this too feels reused because it's really just a cosmetic change to the character’s appearance. Sure the race to beast mode can be exciting but, because of the combo system, it's anything but difficult.
The arenas suffer from the same lack of innovation as well. Most of their designs don't strive for anything past the shape of a square leaving a bland, uninteresting experience for the player. Interactivity between the character and the arena consists solely on the act of knocking an opponent through a wall. The feature is a great stride for Bloody Roar’s arenas, although it is hardly anything new compared to other series. Some stages also have a second "secret" area; problem is players will generally kill their opponents well before breaking the necessary walls to access the area, effectively making the feature useless.
The only drop of shining hope left relies on the controls and they don't disappoint. On one hand, the quick and accessible controls could be to blame for the button mashing gameplay. Nevertheless, these incredibly fluid controls are impressive because they can easily keep up with the player. When the punch button is pressed the action is immediately presented on screen and when combo sequences are entered the action is again immediately translated on screen without a hiccup or a flinch. And for once the Gamecube's button layout lends itself to a fighter's control scheme. All the attack buttons are laid out on the B, A, and X buttons, the Y button blocks and the trigger and Z buttons will strafe and enter beast mode respectively. The resulting controls are simple, accessible, and intuitive just as they all should be.
Primal Fury does have an assortment of minor details ranging from brilliant to mediocre. With a high polygon count, the character models are the spotlight of Hudson's few achievements. Ruffling shirts, facial gestures and fluffy-looking fur allow the models to bring an appealing presentation. Particle effects from the different strikes and combos are simply flashes of light, yet they bring out an elegance fitting for the visual style. Music comes in the form of up beat rock, which is so generic it hurts. The grunt and striking sounds also suffer from the same dilemma, making it fit in perfectly with the second-rate gameplay. Finally, the modes come in the usual assortment of Arcade, Survival, Time Attack, and Tag Team. Alas these modes never attempt to reach beyond the ordinary – clearly, a constant theme throughout the entire experience.
Oversimplifying the entire genre, Bloody Roar: Primal Fury achieves playability unmatched on the Gamecube. Beyond the responsive controls, however, is a game barely treading water. The lop-sided victories and uninspired arenas just add weight to Primal Fury's ankles, while unstoppable combos coupled with the button mashing gameplay continues to sink it even further. It's hard to recommend a game that hardly keeps itself above water, especially when fighters from the last decade seem float so much better. I'd recommend getting a life preserver because you'll drown with this sequel.
Community review by evilpoptart937 (December 18, 2004)
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