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Suiko Enbu
  opened by paleface at 22:52:17 09/01/03  
  last modified by paleface at 22:56:51 09/01/03  
  paleface [sys=PS1; cat=Fighting; loc=JPN]
Also known as "Outlaws of the Lost Dynasty," this here's a port of an old 2D arcade fighter by, surprise surprise, Data East, and their trademark glowingly healthy art style comes through in the large cast of muscular, medieval Chinese fighters.
The character sprites, some pretty good sized, move swiftly even if they don't have a huge number of animation frames. Each one has a good number of attacks, what with the three punch and three kick buttons at your command, plus a number of special moves per character. A super meter lurks down at the bottom of the screen but it seems to build very slowly and I didn't see a single super, I don't think, in an hour or so of playing, even though the manual seems to show super-looking moves for some of the fighters.
Although the game feels very rather SFII-era, you've got some basic juggle combos to mess with here if you can knock someone up into the air, although the game doesn't count them for you. The AI got a few nasty ones in on me, especially the boss. Fortunately, perhaps, the AI is also prone to certain defensive lapses--in particular, you can often, say, uppercut someone just as they're getting up, and do this three or four times in a row before the computer figures out that they should be blocking. This happens less as you get deeper in to the single-player tournament, however.
A careful arcade port, the game lacks any sort of additional modes. When you start up you pick between Arcade and "Extra" or something mode, but I can't tell the difference between the two. So you've got regular single-player arcade mode and two-player Vs mode and that's pretty much it.
A couple things bug me about this otherwise very solid game. First, attractive and inventive as the character designs are, they stand in stark contrast to the horribly pixelated backgrounds. The background images look like bad scans taken at a lower-than-screen resolution, and dithered down to 32 colors in addition. Blech. Furthermore they're completely lifeless, lacking a single animated element throughout. There aren't even that many of them, so even variety doesn't save you from the ennui enduced by gazing at them for long periods of time. The graphics zoom out Samurai Shodown-style when the characters move away from each other, and this improves the dithered look somewhat but doesn't eliminate it, even though the zooming itself is as smooth as can be.
Second, the fighting has a little bit of stiffness to it, seeming to pause a bit after an attack or something. Maybe this is how they wanted to do recovery time but it prevents you from moving in a free-flowing manner. It feels odd too because otherwise the characters move quite swiftly with no trace of slowdown at all (no doubt the lifeless backgrounds contribute to this execution speed).
You can remap controls to your liking, hoorah, and activate demo cuts to reduce the little cinematic scenes you'll have to sit through between bouts--a very good thing because you have to sit through a bit of a load time before each one, then load again to get to the next stage itself. Other than that load times seem okay on a PS2 with Fast Loading enabled... I wouldn't really want to see what they're like without it.
But this is starting to sound like I'm down on the game and overall I'm not. It feels old but if you can live with that, it's a colorful and slightly unusual fighting game that delivers pretty good, no-frills arcade action.
  paleface 22:56:51 09/01/03
Forgot to mention that the game makes no use whatsoever of memory cards, so there's nothing to unlock and your high scores don't get saved between sessions. Bummer.

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