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Masked Rider 555
  opened by paleface at 03:54:34 03/27/04  
  last modified by paleface at 12:25:50 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Fighting; reg=JPN]
Bandai churns out another TV-based fighting game, but I have a soft spot for these things. As they did in Kamen ("Masked") Rider Agito (entry 136), and by the way also in their two Sentai games, based on a different live-action show (see entry 127 and entry 188), the developers do a very good job of making the game look rather photorealistic, bearing a rather remarkable resemblence to the TV show. In fact, 555 probably has the very best blending of 3D foreground into 2D background that I've ever seen, it really is a lovely thing to see. And since the only models they have to render are the two fighters, they can go high poly and high texture on those, and the figures come out looking fantastic--makes me think better of this whole "Renderware" thing they've been licensing lately.
Sound is also worth a mention, not so much the sound effects but the very well-done music: the best part is your theme song coming on when you trigger your super move. Nice.
Now on to the not so great stuff. There isn't really a whole lot to this game. As a fighter it is pretty simplistic, with two attack buttons, throw, and your Super move button. Characters have a couple Street-Fighter-esque special moves but not really that many, and you'll probably just be better off by going for a chain combo with your two attack buttons anyway. It would be solid enough except for the occasional hiccup of sometimes walking right through your opponent.
The twist comes with the super moves: you don't do some kind of double-crank-two-button-press thing when your super meter is charged up. Nope, you just press Triangle to start your move--doesn't matter what else is going on, even if your opponent has you trapped in the middle of a nasty chain. Hit Triangle and everything pulls up short, then your character does this snazzy animation while the screen tells you to mash one of the four face buttons. Your opponent mashes back and you're both trying to push the mash meter over to the other's side by, well, mashing harder. Get it over there by the time the little animated intro finishes and voila, you hit with the super! Otherwise, you miss. No blocking or dodging here, just button mashing.
I find that I mind that less than I had thought I would, probably mainly because the computer is a bad button masher: I strolled right through the game on Normal on my first play without losing a round. I have to admit that playing Vs. against someone who is just a faster masher than me is NOT as much fun, 'cause they block all my supers and hit me with all their supers thanks to their quick mashing. It's enough to make one give up button mashing altogether.
Beating the silly "Challenge" mode, which is what passes for Story Mode here (there's no final boss :p) unlocks that character's portrait in the gallery for you. The game starts with only for characters unlocked, but it seems that you can gamble points earned in Challenge mode in "Slot Machine" mode in an attempt to unlock other characters by winning all four sections of their gallery picture. Thrillsville. Aside from Vs. mode and the filmed Tutorial mode, that's about all that you've got to do here.
Overall I'm disappointed right now. It looks and sounds better than Agito but there's less to do, less camp, and the fighting is more simplistic. In fact the button mashing just gets downright insulting in Vs. mode. Hm. Oh well, maybe Bandai will make a real awesom PS2 Sentai game, now that could be something.
· Hyakujyu Sentai Gaoranger (PS1)
· Masked Rider Agito (PS1)
· Masked Rider Kabuto (PS2)
· Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger (PS1)

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