Review by DJosef

"Get stoned!"

When I first bought my Dreamcast and asked friends for suggestions for games to get, particularly fighting games, almost all of them recommended the excellent 3D fighter known as Power Stone, and after playing it for countless hours it's quite evident why.

Power Stone tells the story of 10 very different people who are all seeking the same prize - the magical Power Stone which can grant its owner their every desire. Each character has their own motives for doing so. The valiant Indian chief Galuda wants to use it to cure a member of his tribe, whereas others only want it for their own personal gain.

Game play takes place in several unique 3D environments ranging from the beautiful town square that is Falcon's level known as Londo, or the saloon where you fight the aforementioned Indian, Galuda. Every level features several obstacles that can work for or against you. For example, the miner Gunrock's level features a spinning spiked wheel as well as a geyser like hole in the floor which will occasionally open up and shoot a giant blast of fire. Also, there are certain obstacles you can trigger, such as when you thrown an enemy into a wall in Wang Tang's level and a plethora of pots promptly rains down on them. In addition to the built in obstacles there are several weapons at your disposal ranging from swords to futuristic ray guns, to boxes and other things found within the level.

Probably the most unique element of Power Stone is the Power Stones themselves. Collect 3 of them and your character morphs into a monstrous alternate form capable of doing massive amounts of damage with the mere push of a button. You stay in this form until the Power Gauge which appears at the bottom of this screen runs out. The moves in this mode are divided into two types - Power Drive moves which take up a small bit of the Power Gauge and the much more powerful Power Fusions which send you back to your normal form as soon as you finish using them. Be warned though, while the stones make you an offensive monster they also decrease your defense, so that if an enemy catches you off guard it just might be the end of your fighting days.

And don't think you can simply either go for the stones or try to all out brawl. Power Stone is different from most fighting games as it requires you to balance multiple tasks and keep your eyes on the position of the stones and your enemy at the same time. Run and try and grab the stone without paying attention to an enemy and next thing you know you've just been smashed with a blunt object and your enemy has stolen the prize.

Control wise Power Stone is solid as well. The X, L-trigger and B buttons all serve as a punch button, A jumps, and the remaining buttons serve as kicks. Combining them results in several useful moves. For example if you run at a wall and press jump+kick your character will kick off the wall and do a unique attack that homes in on their enemy. Or if you jump and hit either trigger button while still in the air you will execute a rather useful jump kick. Also each character has their own grabs and throws. Probably the most interesting feature though is the ability to swing around poles. Run up to any pole and hit the B button and your character will spin around it to gain momentum before thrust themselves at an enemy. All these unique moves and a more are at your disposal, keeping the game interesting and unpredictable at all times.

Appearance wise Power Stone is one of the most beautiful games to grace the Dreamcast. No details are forgotten, everything from the crows found in the haunting serial killer Jack's level to the torches that light the temple that is Rouge's level. Characters are smooth and there is no sign of slow down anywhere to be found. The animations on the moves are superior as well, and the animated intro is truly something to be seen. Some things like signs in the background appear a bit blurred at times, but these problems are quite minor, not to mention few and far between.

The sound is just as amazing as the graphics. Sound effects like the running water in the fountain in the town square of Londo makes it sound like you're right there with a front row seat for the fight. Every weapon matches its real life counter part perfectly, be it the sword or the machine gun. And the music is absolutely stellar. Whereas most fighting games simply use a rather forgettable techno soundtrack to set the background Power Stone uses a range of amazing instrumentals that fit each level absolutely perfectly. Whether it's the brilliant use of Mexican guitar in Galuda's Saloon or the brilliant upbeat Arabian theme to Rouge's level every tune fits its level like a glove.

Also Power Stone is chock full of replay, more than I've ever seen in a fighting game before. Every character has an ending to unlock, and every time you beat the game you may unlock a new weapon or character. You can also get new modes of play, VMU games, a sound test, and numerous other options including a menu that lets you alter things like the damage ratio, number of power stones and number of rounds which makes the game a completely new experience with each play.

Overall Power Stone is a must have for any Dreamcast owner. The only real drawbacks are that some levels are a bit smaller than they should be and the game has a bit of a large learning curve simply because it involves strategy as well as fighting.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/22/02, Updated 09/22/02

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