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Game Profile
GENRE: Fighting
PLAYERS:   1-2
February 06, 2002
Bloody Roar 4

Bloody Roar Extreme

Bloody Roar 3

 Written by Ilan Mejer  on July 16, 2002

Full Review: ?Fight like an animal? ~ Bloody Roar game case

Bloody Roar: Primal Fury. It is quite ironic that the GameCube's first dedicated 3D fighter is a substantially better effort than the Nintendo 64's entire 3D gaming library. Bloody Roar (BR) succeeds on many levels and is a worthy addition to anyone's casual gaming library. However, the hardcore fighter fans may want to read ahead before deciding. BR for the GameCube is loosely based off Bloody Roar 3, the early Playstation 2 title. However, instead of porting the game to the GameCube, developer Eighting decided to rebuild the game from scratch, adding new arenas, characters, and gameplay to the package. Furthermore, whereas BR3 looked much like previous Dreamcast fighters, Bloody Roar on the GameCube is easily one of the more beautiful games. It isn't quite BR4, but it is much more than any other BR game before it. Bloody Roar: Primal Fury is a welcome addition to the GameCube's ever-expanding library.

BR plays much like a 3D fighter should, though at first glance the control scheme seems simple. You have a button for punch, kick, beastorize (transform), throw, heavy block, hyper beastorize, and sidestepping. With only two offensive buttons, you would think that the game would almost entirely lack a combo system, or even a variety of moves, but nothing could be further from the truth. A large variety of moves can be performed by executing the comfortable controller combinations that we are all used to from countless fighting games in the past. However, even normal moves will vary depending on your distance from and position relating to your opponent. Additionally, simply holding a direction while tapping either the punch or kick buttons will also result in new attacks. Regular and special attacks can quite easily be sequenced into short and exciting ?combos.? While the ground-based combo possibilities are only slightly varied, the game truly shines in offering up exciting opportunities to ?juggle? your enemies. Even these forms of attack are not invulnerable, however, as with a simple button press, your foe will be able to attempt an air recover and either evade or launch an unexpected counterattack.

This is fine, of course, but from the above you could gather that there is not much original about the gameplay. That is where the beast transformations come in. Throughout the course of a match, you will charge your beast gauge up two levels. The first will allow you to transform into your Zoanthrope form, your animal were-self. This opens up a new tier of attacks and abilities that you normally do not have access too. By charging the meter up to its 2nd level and hitting a different button, you gain access to the Hyper Beast form, which is essentially a more powerful and temporary Zoanthrope form. A fighter's Zoanthrope form, which varies from the animal kingdom to the demonic, grants you the ability to cancel certain moves into others, multiplying your combo opportunities. It also allows you to recover stamina as long as you are not being hit. By comparison, the Hyper Beast form seems weaker due to its much more temporary nature, but affords you even more move cancellation opportunities. Furthermore, the Hyper Beast mode can actually be accessed at any time, though if your beast gauge is not appropriately full, it will deduct the power required from your stamina instead. The Zoanthrope twist to the gameplay is exceedingly innovative and succeeds in adding extra levels of depth, excitement, gameplay, replay, and strategy.

From a technological standpoint, Bloody Roar stands on a pedestal. It is simply a breathtaking game to behold. The characters quickly rise to the forefront of the experience and the camera is constantly focused on them in a way that makes them loom on the screen, almost larger than life. Such an extremely close up view of the combatants allows us to truly appreciate the amount of effort that went into designing them. While the clothing and aesthetic design of the characters are not quite as flamboyant as those seen in Dead or Alive 3 for the Xbox, the character models hold up surprisingly well. The game even features a more subtle and realistic alternative to Dead or Alive 3's ridiculous ?jiggly bits.? Unfortunately, the interactive backgrounds are not exactly stunning. They too are convincing, appropriate, and pretty, if a bit clich?d, but they just do not stand out like the characters do. You probably will not notice this much, since your eyes will be feasting on the truly magnificent special effects that are evident throughout the fighting experience. Finally, everything runs at a consistent 60 frames per second, lending a professional polish to the already high production values in the game's presentation.

It is quite unfortunate that the audio did not see quite as much attention from the developers as the graphics and gameplay did. While not altogether unpleasant, the game's music can be summed up with the phrase ?distilled 80's cheesy-rock.? Sure, it can get the blood flowing occasionally, but it usually either manages to annoy or be forgotten. The sounds effects on the other hand, are quite well done. From the human voices, to the guttural snarls, screams, and growls of their Zoanthrope counterparts, to all the smacks, crashes, and yells you would expect from a fighting game, the sound effects manage to hold their own and remain both memorable and relevant to the experience. Finally, it bears mentioning that whatever story Bloody Roar attempts to tell is furthered by nicely drawn anime sequences. The characters in the anime are generally lankier than their in game counterparts, creating a strange discrepancy between them. The anime sequences generally look nice, except for the needless amount of artifacting that is a result the compression routines used to fit them into one disc.

Bottom Line
All in all, Bloody Roar: Primal Fury is a very fun 3D fighting game. It would be easy to write it off as the first GCN fighter to be available, but the game is legitimate and brings new concepts to the genre. Unfortunately, most of the game's depth is rendered entirely optional by the relative ease one can implement a ?button masher? strategy to their gaming style. The casual gamer will probably have much fun with this game, both in single player and with friends. The hardcore gamer would do well to arrange at least one other partner who is willing to master every element of the gameplay system. Only then will they truly appreciate the fun of the juggle combo system and the strategy of the Zoanthrope Hyper Beast system. In addition, the tiny black and blue disc is wickedly attractive.

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