| paleface [sys=PS1; cat=Fighting; loc=JPN] |
|Also known as "Power Instinct 2," a rather oldish 2d fighting game. When I first loaded this up and played for a bit I thought it was terrible, as the character animation has very few frames and these frames often stick them in odd poses. Though the character portraits and intermission character art look amazing, the actual fighting character sprites and backgrounds have a decidedly 16-bit look about them. I'm glad I gave this one a second spin however as I was doing something quite wrong the first time I played it: I was trying to take it seriously.|
How very mistaken that was. There's some sort of plot here involving a crazy old woman, her weird amusement park island, lots of those little black-clad masked "Kuroko" judge guys, and plentiful beat-downs among a very large cast of characters including three old women, a nearly naked old man, a pudgy kid who summons blue bears, a Native American warrior and a giant female wrestler, among other unique characters. Many of the characters have alternate forms into which they may transform (still not sure what triggers this) during a fight, though this entails sitting through an abrupt loading pause. Oddly, you can only play as two of the cooler characters, a scantily-leather-clad girl and a man in a dog suit, in the tag vs mode--this may be because these two are transformations for a couple of the other characters in story mode. There's a somewhat annoying intermission session between each round where it has to load a couple times, shows a little ninja running to the next fight location in the "Otane Land" amusement park, and shows several pairs of character portraits, the first including a childishly defaced portrait of the person you just defeated.
The fighting itself suffers from the aforementioned crusty animation but otherwise plays surprisingly solidly. Many, if not all, of the characters can double-jump. Everyone's got KOF-style weak/strong punch and kick attacks (can't remap these to L and R buttons for an arcade stick layout, boo!), several special moves and perhaps a transformation character with its own set of moves. "Super" moves don't exist, but there's a meter that builds up as you take damage and once it fills up you're surrounded by a burst of purple flame for a few seconds, then you get a bit of a speed boost for the rest of the match, I think.
The fighting wouldn't be half as fun, however, without the nutty stages and most importantly the music accompanying each stage. Each background has, in addition to two "kuroko" judges running back and forth following the action, a bunch of dancing/cheering spectators of some sort, frequently some other large scale animating effect, and amazingly varied music. The kiddie amusement park stage, for instance, has a large vibrating ride of some sort in the central background and a troupe of fifty or so school kids singing along to candy-cane music conducted by their teacher. Music in other stages includes lounge singing, black-clad martial men chanting and drumming, a jpop singer and accompanying high-kicking dancers, a punk grrrl rock band, two sensitive guys with guitars on a mobile wheeled platform, and more.
Stage after stage of madcap music and characters eventually worked its magic on me and convinced me of the deranged genius of the designers. The game has no save/load that I can see so you won't be unlocking anything or keeping your high scores, an odd omission, but you'll soon forget such trivialities after several old women have ground you to a pulp with their dentures.