Review by darkknight109

"Fast, furious, and frantic"

Power Stone 2 is one of those wonderful gems for the Dreamcast that got so criminally overlooked due to the console's short lifespan. It is an incredibly fun, if somewhat random, game.

The game takes place in the 19th century (although it has a lot of 21st century inventions in it) during an age of expansion and exploration. Adventurers from across the globe are searching for a legendary group of treasures called the Power Stones that have the ability to make any wish come true. Unfortunately, like so many of these wish-granting treasures, they only work when they're brought together. Of course this means each of the adventurers that are out looking for the stones is going to have to fight the others for the prize.

In this instalment of the series, each of the fighters sees a floating castle in the sky and all decide to investigate it, each for a different reason. Once inside, they find themselves locked in a struggle for the power stones. OK, so the game doesn't exactly have a Pulitzer-winning story, but the gameplay is still great.

Graphics: 7/10

The game has a very cartoony look to it and never takes itself too seriously. Between the western cowboy, the evil chef and the spry ninja, the characters are varied, quite colourful and over-the-top in their mannerisms.

The graphics are surprisingly lacklustre in this game. Even when compared to some of the Dreamcast's other games, like Sonic Adventure or Soul Calibur, this game falls far short of the usual graphical mark. The characters are basically cartoons brought to 3D life and look quite nice, and the stages and items are all suitably well rendered. However, the whole thing really lacks detailing and depth. This really doesn't take away from the game's fun, but I guess I was hoping to see a little more effort put into graphics this time around. The Dreamcast can really shine if given the chance and this game just doesn't push the hardware like it should.

Of course, the graphics are by no means bad and you'll never wind up staring at the screen thinking “Wow... that looks ugly/sloppy.” However, if you're looking for a Dreamcast graphical masterpiece, best to spend your money elsewhere.

Sound: 7/10

Once again, this is surprisingly lacklustre. There's nothing actually wrong with the sound quality, but the music oftentimes is fairly subtle to the point where you don't often notice it. The music, while not annoying, is pretty bland. The voice acting is entirely in Japanese and it sounds cool... but then again, that may just be because I don't understand the language.

Gameplay: 9/10

It's difficult to describe Power Stone 2 to someone who hasn't played it. It's sort of like the Super Smash Bros. series, only in 3D. It is one of the few truly 3D fighters I have played, where you can run all around a 3D environment and not be constantly turned to face your opponent on what is, in essence a 2D arena.

I hesitate to call Power Stone 2 a fighter, because it really doesn't play like one. The game is more like a party game, since someone with no skill still has a decent chance of winning if they grab the right items. Speaking of items, the game has hundreds of them and they form the bulk of the game's strategy. Each fighter can pull off a basic combo, either on the ground or in the air, but in order to truly take control of the match, you'll need to grab some of the many items floating around the map.

These items (and there are well over 100 of them) range from the mundane (an iron pipe to beat people with) to the fanciful (a dragon that floats over your soldier and spits fire at your foes) to the futuristic (a ray gun) to the just plain strange (a frozen tuna you can smack your foes with). You only start with a handful of these weapons unlocked. The rest are acquired in the game's “Item Synthesis” minigame. Any items picked up by a character in the game's single player mode are added to the “inventory.” Provided the player has at least one of any given item in the inventory, it will appear during matches. However, these items may also be mixed together to form new, more powerful (usually) items. However, just randomly adding items together usually results in a failed mix, destroying both items involved.

It gets rather addictive as you continue playing through single player and start vainly hoping for that one rare item to drop so you can synthesize the next one up the list. Recipes and elements are given to you throughout the game or can be purchased from the store for cash also earned in single player mode.

My complaint about the items is some of them are ridiculously overpowered. Some of them can literally slice away half your health bar with a single swing or are so ridiculously impossible to dodge, they can turn the game into “first person to grab item xxxx wins!” This does make the matches extremely fast-paced and frantic, but at some point it would have been nice to have an option to make them longer.

The game's titular element, the Power Stones, are also present as items on the map. Each player starts with one on their person that can be knocked out with a combo or powerful hit, and more will occasionally appear on the map. Should any player acquire three at one time, they undergo a quick transformation into an extremely powerful alter-ego of themselves. These transformed states grant the player powerful attacks that deal obscene amount of damage and that are, in some cases, damn near impossible to avoid. The upside is there's only a limited amount of time a player can spend in this transformed state before the power stones fly out of their body and scatter across the map.

The stages also play a roll in the destruction, as each one is filled with useable turrets, hidden traps or giant aliens that add to the game's already chaotic feeling. Boxes can be thrown, random parts of scenery picked up and used and poles or other random support structures can be used as launching points for attacks.

The game has a single player mode, which is pretty much just a bunch of multiplayer matches against computers with a pair of bosses added in. Nothing all that deep here. The multiplayer mode is where most of the game's appeal lies, as the frantic nature of the game is only mildly entertaining to one person, but is great fun with four.

Overall: 8/10

The game has an overall exceptionally random and sporadic feel to it that is a ton of fun for casual gamers, but doesn't provide a very deep experience for those out there who yearn for a deep fighting experience; Tekken or Mortal Kombat this ain't. Even compared to its precursor, Power Stone 1, Power Stone 2 has a much more random and less fighter-based feel to it. The game is a great purchase for those of you who own a Dreamcast and want a good, casual multiplayer game. Unlockable content and a very strong multiplayer game mean you'll get plenty of playtime out of this disc.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/17/07

Game Release: Power Stone 2 (US, 08/23/00)

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