Review by Aganar

"An innovative attempt at a full 3d fighter"

This is what I think of when I think of the Dreamcast. I think of new titles or franchises trying to make it in while keeping many old school elements. I think of fun and quirky games made for hardcore gamers. And this game very well represents that. Developed by Capcom, Power Stone was a fresh new title in full 3d.

The visuals are sort of mixed. While I like the cartoony look and movement of the characters, something still seems like it could've been better. The regular character polygon counts could've been a little higher for the time. But when they transform into their super forms, they look great. Special effects are really well done, and the game runs at a constant 60 frames per second. The cartoony/pseudo cel-shading style makes the game more fun to play, because it gives it a more sarcastic feel, especially when you see the endings. On the subject of endings, I like the storybook effect they used for them. Overall, the graphics are quite good.

The story is rather basic. There is a rumored stone of power, which can grant any wish for the one who possesses it. Each character has his or her own reason for wanting it, so they all embark on a quest to find it. I'm not sure why they only discover it when they beat the game, since you can use it during the game, but I suppose those are shards of it or something. The endings are all either humorous or creepy, which is kinda cool. Its fun to see how your characters use the powerstone (i.e. some using it for good and others simply to cheat at Poker)

The gameplay is very weird. Instead of a normal 2d fighting game with 3d graphics, it is really in full 3d. Not like Soul Calibur and its 8-way movement, but you can actually walk around easily in 3d. Like Smash Bros, it takes the Party game feel when fighting. The combat is not very deep, and more relies on button mashing and speed. The new addition to the game besides full 3d is using the environment. Around every level lays boxes, chairs, tables, items, etc. Most of the game comes from using these items and furniture to your advantage. The ultimate goal in each fight is to collect the power stones and become your legendary warrior for which to pummel your opponent. In every level is shards of the power stone. Collecting all of them (which can be done by simple collection or beating them out of your opponent) turns your character into his or her dream fighter.

Once a character enters legendary status, the other player is usually forced to run. The status gives your character such incredible power it's almost suicide to try to fight back. Every move they do will be twice as powerful as a normal one, and the overdrives can cause incredible amounts of damage. On the upside, you can only do a limited amount of moves before the energy meter runs out and you reform back to your normal character. But, if you are on the receiving end and lost more than half your life before the other player got those stones, you're pretty much dead.

Where the game really shines is the characters and their legendary forms. Capcom really got to have some fun when creating them, so every character and their counterparts are unique and interesting. While one character's dream fighter may be a powerful samurai, another may be the goddess of fire. Even if I don’t like some of the characters, almost all legendary forms are interesting, and manage to stay consistent with the character, and their personality, For instance, the plane pilot, a relatively balanced character, is going to transform into a Rocketeer type battle warrior, and stay fairly balanced. The giant strongman will turn into a clone of ''The Thing'' and bash you in. The fast kung-fu fighter will become a golden haired combat legend, with incredible speed and power (which, I might add, looks a lot like Akira Toriyama's Super Saiyan from Dragonball Z).

But the problem with the game is really that it becomes sort of a button masher. You are never really fighting hand-to-hand for more than 3 seconds. As soon as a Powerstone or an item appears, one player rushes off to get it. While I like being able to use a sword, or a hammer, or a rocket launcher, etc., I don't like how shallow the game becomes. ''Punch guy, steal Powerstone. Get other Powerstone, transform, and beat guy up. Loser Powerstone. Shoot enemy with gun.'' and then the cycle starts over again. It's not like Super Smash Bros where everything feels natural. You don't stop and think ''Do I want to try to get that item? He might shoot me when I run for it'', you just act on instinct. This game becomes all about collecting the stones, and looses a lot of depth.

The sound and music is pretty good. I like the different music that they have for every level; the tunes are pretty fitting, and seem fairly well-made. I also really like the voice acting for each character. Some can really fit their personality and make the characters more interesting (like Jack's psychotic laugh). Others can just be good for the sake of voice acting. While in Japanese, you can still tell the voices are pretty good. So, it's a solid score on that.

Capcom fortunately put in a lot of nice things worth playing the game over for. The multiplayer is always fun to play with you friends, and there's plenty to do. Playing through the game with a character always unlocks something new the first time around. There are new items to get, new characters to unlock, special modes, etc. Among these are a Point of View mode, where you fight behind the shoulder of your character in versus mode, the giant boss at the end playable in versus mode, and even some minigames you can download into your VMU to unlock more stuff! I commend Capcom for going the extra mile and actually programming a VMU minigame, a feat none other than Sega attempted.

Overall, it's still a solid game. I love the concept because the legendary characters are so fun. But the game still lacks polish. Unfortunately, I feel that this actually outdoes its sequel, so we still don't have it done completely right yet. Its few gameplay flaws make it only skin-deep, and while good for a while will ultimately leave you longing for something deeper. But in the sense of pure fun it's still quite a good game. Since it is still very abundant in stores, every Dreamcast owner should pick this up!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 09/09/03

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