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Inuyasha: Sengoku Otogi Kassen
  opened by paleface at 03:28:29 08/24/03  
  last modified by paleface at 12:25:50 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PS1; cat=Fighting; reg=JPN]
A lovely, if simplistic, 2d fighter from Dimps, a company supposedly composed of ex-SNK employees, Inuyasha shows tremendous signs of polish and experience but doesn't really pack the gameplay depth to back them up. The deluxe version or whatever won't be of interest to any except Inuyasha fans (I've never seen the show myself) as it just comes with a fattish black and white manga notebook/storybook in addition to the regular game (which has a trading card or something in the jewel case).
The "tag" mode lets you swap between two characters during a fight or call in your partner for a little MvC-style combo attack. Both of those maneuvers require a certain amount of energy from your team-up gauge, which powers up in a manner similar to your super-meter, only a bit quicker. The teammates have separate health meters but when one falls, the round is over. You can have the second player play as your teammate, so you switch off against the computer, but that just means that one person has to sit and watch while the other battles--rather like DOA2's tag mode in that respect. It would be more interesting if the game didn't have to stop and load for a few seconds when switching characters. They covered this as well as they could with an attractive transition screen but it gets wearying after a while.
The regular story mode has you move your little character around a map until you've visited and defeated all the battle/mini-game sites, then lets you in to the big purple glowing area for a show-down with Mr. Boss, who seemed quite the pushover. I'd like Story mode better if the fights were best-of-three rather than just one round each, because if you lose that round you have to sit through the enemy's victory pose, a load, your character's game over screen, a pause, a load, the battle intro posturing, the 3-4 seconds of free movement before the fighting is allowed to begin, and then fight again finally. Phew. Aside from the tag-specific stuff, you've got a weak attack, strong attack, special attack button with three or so "direction + special button" type special moves per character, and a parry button that acts just like the parrying from Last Blade.
Many things here bear a certain resemblance to the Last Blade games, actually: the classical Japanese instrumentals, the pre-fight free-movement phase and posturing from the combatants, the post-fight win pose, the weapon sound effects, the lush nature-filled 2d backgrounds (but here sporting some nifty animated effects), and even the style of the character sprites themselves looks not unlike the art style from Last Blade. These are all good things in their way as the game feels highly polished and professional, but the rather downtempo atmosphere doesn't fit as well with these quirky, youthful, energetic characters as it did with the more mature, brooding cast of Last Blade.
The characters, though not that large, animate fluidly for a PlayStation game but with so few special moves per character and only two real attack buttons, battles come down to landing a super or two plus chain combos that come from alternating the weak and strong attack buttons. It gets pretty frustrating to get stuck in a long chain combo from the CPU. Sometimes you can break out of them with the Parry button, sometimes that just seemed to make me get hit longer.
I think I'd feel better about the fighting if I could remap the buttons on my arcade stick but I can't find an option for doing so, though I could be missing something in the thick menus that are almost entirely in Kanji. You can enable auto-blocking for your character, even in Vs. mode, which strikes me as somewhat annoying. You unlock a good deal of extra characters, art (really nice artwork throughout the game and menus), sounds, music, minigames (in the vein of punching the car in SFII) as you play through and you've got Vs. modes and tag modes to play with, so it should keep you busy for a while if the simplistic fighting doesn't start to wear you out.
It's worth something to me just to see the Last Blade developers (such is my theory) working on a 2d fighter again--here's hoping that they're allowed to go a bit deeper with their next one.
· Dragon Ball: Advance Adventure (GBA)
· The Rumble Fish (PS2)

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