Review #1 by Kenneth Lee
For Hudson's first attempt at a 3D fighter on the Playstation, "Bloody Roar" is definitely a solid, first attempt. Previewed at E3 as "Beastorizer," this game has gotten a fair share of hype, and it definitely deserves (some) of it. First off, in terms of production value, Hudson delivers with all the standard bells and whistles of a good fighter: You get options galore, with 6 different modes of play (Arcade, Vs, Watch, Time Attack, Survival, Practice). In 'Options Mode,' you get a ton of extra configurations from Game Options, Sound Options, Art Gallery, to Omake (Extra) options. Indeed it seems that Hudson has covered all the bases, giving the player all the 'replay value' that one could want: The Art Gallery contains 'Development' and 'Illustration' sections, and they have various artwork, sketches of the making of the game and the characters. There's also a 'Movie' section that allows you to save the end movies for all the characters (once you beat the game with each). In 'Omake' options, there are 16 'slots' that are waiting for you to 'unlock' them via various conditions. Yet, upon closer inspection, it seems that Hudson has 'overloaded' the player with all these extras and goodies in an attempt to gloss over the most important aspect (and their greatest failure): A fun game. Allow me to elaborate.
Perhaps the most immediate failure for Hudson is in its Character Designs: What you get is a cast of 8 regular fighters that range from decidedly average to downright hideous. The cast includes: Fox (Fox), Long (Tiger), Bakuryu (Mole), Yugo (Wolf), Gado (Lion), Greg (Ape), Mitsuko (Wild Boar), Alice (Bunny). As you know, (especially for a fighting game) the characters that you choose should be cool, sexy, bad-ass, or at least should instill some form of positive reaction from the player. Not so here, as this cast of characters rivals Sega's "Fighting Vipers" for the worst set of fighters to have ever graced a fighting game. With that aside, technically speaking, the graphics are rock-solid, with the 3D models looking decent (somewhere on par with SFEX+ characters), and with decent textures and 3D backgrounds. There are plenty of pretty 'glow' effects and light trails (ala Star Gladiators, Soul Edge), and they even added blood to the game (via sprites). Animation for the moves and fighters are very good and competent. Some of the moves will make many an onlooker take a second glance at that game.
The mediocrity continues in the category of Sound Effects and Music. When you hit someone (or get hit), the sounds are solid sound effects; it gets the job done. Musically, also average.
Finally it is in the area of gameplay that "Bloody Roar" both succeeds and fails. Basically you have very simple controls, "Punch," "Kick," "Beast," and "Rave." Just hold back to block. The moves are somewhat sluggish and not as responsive as say, Tobal 2, or VF. Where "Bloody Roar" succeeds is in giving you a 'Fun Fighter,' instead of a 'Serious Fighter.' By 'Fun Fighter,' I mean a fighting game that you can pop in and have a bunch of buddies and non-fighting game players come over and button-mash and still have fun for hours without any exertion from the brain (see Star Gladiators). Versus a 'Serious Fighter,' that is still fun and great, but also represents the Best in the industry (Street Fighter series, Tobal 2). In all fairness, there is a Fighting Vipers, Star Gladiators-type fighting engine of 'chaining hits' together - Punch, Punch, Punch, Kick-type strings. And of course the highlight of the fighting has to be the 'Beast' form. Basically instead of a Super Bar, they give you a 'Beast Bar,' and that slowly fills up during battle. When it lights up, you can hit the "Beast" button and voila! Your character turns into a beast of some sort. The Beast forms also have extra moves to execute and on top of that, while in Beast form, you can choose to hit the "Rave" button, which puts you in a 'hyper' state (similar to Custom Combos in Street Fighter) where your moves come out faster and quicker than normal, allowing you to create 'wonderful' air juggles. Yes, this is where "Bloody Roar" also fails the most: Similar to Fighting Vipers, and Tekken 2, 3, the 'heart' of "Bloody Roar"s fighting engine is Air Juggling. Only here you can take it to the ridiculous extreme: In a matter of few hours, I was able to do mozzarella-filled 38-hit Air Juggle combos! Sure there are 'air recoveries' but in many cases that just makes the matter worse, as it leaves you open for even more juggling (since you 'rebound' off a recovery, you stay in the air longer).
One special note has to be made about the CG Movies in the game. Contrary to other reports, "Bloody Roar" contains some of the WORST CG movies ever to have graced any platform! People try to compare this to "Tekken," that is a joke. The intro CG movie and end movies are in fact so bad, that I can't think of any adjectives to describe them.
In conclusion, "Bloody Roar" is decent first attempt at a 3D fighter from Hudson. As aforementioned, non-fighting gamers will probably love this to death - glitzy special effects, simple gameplay - while serious fighting gamers or just gamers looking for a great fighting game should stick with the godly "Tobal 2" and "Street Fighter EX+alpha." Those 2 games are the pinnacle of 3D fighters. If you haven't bought either one of those games, I would recommend you to forget about BR and go straight for either of them. Or if you have a Saturn, I'd recommend you saving your hard-earned $70-80 for Capcom Japan's POWER that is "X-Men Vs. Street Fighter" w/ 4-Meg RAM cart.
Final Scores: (out of possible 10, with 10 being "Perfect")
+ Great lighting effects (light trails) on special moves. + Solid, colorful 3D stages. + Good animation on many moves (emphasis on power, hurting). - Wretched Character Designs. - Worst-looking 'female' fighter of all-time: Mitsuko (she looks better as a boar). - Horrendous CG movies (intro and endings).
+ Easy, simple controls. + Flashy moves via simple button presses and combinations. - Air juggles galore! Cheese-filled juggles abound! - Slowdown on certain stages and certain areas.