Review by Future Gamer

"Visual hyperbole, gaming joy"

The first Power Stone was a revelation for gamers familiar with Capcom's excellence in just two dimensions. The expansive arenas and unfettered approach to power-ups had never been seen on a console before. Next to the comically exaggerated environments of the sequel, though, the original seems a bit restrained. But while it may seem contradictory, this restraint has actually resulted in a more balanced, finely honed title.

Sitting down to play Power Stone 2 for the first time can be quite a confusing experience, since the amount of action on-screen can make it easy to lose track of your character. Stick with it for just a couple of rounds, though, and it quickly becomes second nature to navigate surroundings which make those of the original seem antiquatedly static. There are five basic locations in which to fight, as well as two boss stages and three extra stages not available in the oneplayer mode. This may not seem a lot, but all of the basic stages feature further sub-areas as rounds progress. The Blue Sky Area, for instance, commences on an airship featuring three turret guns, which slowly disintegrates until remaining combatants must continue to fight while sky-diving. If you're lucky or wise, you'll pick up a parasol at this point to help slow down your descent to the final part of the course, which is a multi-tiered arena featuring two catapults, a tank, and a waterfall that can all be used to your advantage.

On top of all this, there is a bewildering amount of power-ups on offer. Long range weapons, short range weapons and health boosts feature alongside more bizarre articles, such as skateboards, mantraps and ball and chains. And the Power Stones themselves. These add an interesting new dynamic to the gameplay of the original, although their existence was at the expense of other goodies. By toning down the impact of power fusion attacks in the sequel, bouts are more than just an attempt to obtain all three powerstones, and are more free-roaming as a result.

There is also a campaign mode that encourages players to use as wide a variety of the items on offer as possible in order to unlock a range of new ones, which can be traded or combined to form new objects. Other play modes include a multiplayer option for up to four players, and both one and two player story modes, each of which features two new bosses. On the way to meet them for a final head-to-head, players are offered a choice of areas to fight in. Completing the game unlocks characters, items, arenas and special options.

In essence, Power Stone 2 is about choice. With each character having pronounced differences in the way they play, one round of combat can involve everything from Power Stones to power-ups and using the environment to your advantage - including the gun enplacements and catapults that are present in some arenas. Add to this the freedom of choice from various play modes, and the number of features that can be unlocked, and this is a game that will engage your interest for some time. It seems a shame that the small user base of the Dreamcast will prevent it from tasting the widespread adulation that it certainly deserves.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/25/01, Updated 11/25/01


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