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Mystic Heroes
  opened by paleface at 03:41:28 08/28/03  
  last modified by paleface at 12:27:18 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Beat_em_up; reg=NA]
Fun, hectic 3D beat-em-up in ancient China, dressed up in the clothes of a tactical battle simulator just like another of developer Koei's games, Dynasty Warriors, only here the attacking is a bit simplified (only one attack button) and the characters are of the cute super-deformed persuasion. The "story" in story mode seems like a laugh (why, oh why, did they try to imprison the "I can mystically teleport at will" bad guys in a tower?) and some of the English voices really grate on the ears, but the story is really just an excuse to for a certain arrangement of stage and enemy designs and the focus here is definitely on giving out heaping beatdowns to many enemies at once, which the game pulls off with admirable smoothness.
Although you've only got one attack button, you've got two spell buttons, and these are used in conjunction with your other buttons (attack, jump, block) to create certain power or combo attacks. Oh yeah, spells: the four playable characters each have different strength, speed, and magic levels, but all have a health and magic meter in battle. You can recharge your magic meter with a button combination or just let it go up as you beat on badguys, then cast a big impressive spell to finish off the lot of them. Very fun stuff and helped by having others (either up to three other players thanks to splitscreen multitap, or various friendly AIs in some single-player modes) fighting alongside you, though the AIs are certainly no geniuses.
Fast cute graphics help keep you paying attention and even the frequently repetitive combat has a somewhat addictive nature as the fast pace keeps you rushing around trying to bash just one more guy... Oh, they drop time-limited powerups, too, like temporary invulnerability, or a short-duration speed boost.
Fast and fun as single-player has been in the early going, I thought that multiplayer would be a real blast, but the one three-player session I've had felt surprisingly dull and frustrating as we spent most of the time struggling with crappy split-screen camera angles and just an overall feeling that something was a bit off--without the remorseless friendly AIs charging around the game feels rather flat.

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