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Reviewed: InuYasha: Feudal Combat
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: September 3rd, 2005
Page: 2
InuYasha, instead of following the normal fighting-game formula of trying to fit in as many "moves" as possible, reduces the moveset of its characters as much as possible. The Playstation's square button is weak attack, X is strong attack, triangle is jump, and circle is finishing attack. Movement is controlled along the analog stick, and all moves track toward the currently selected enemy (click L2 to switch enemies). Sounds simple? It is. Amazingly so. All totaled, every character in the game has only seven moves; standing, moving, and jumping weak or strong, plus the finishing move, are it. R2 is used for blocking, something that players used to the "hold back to block" option will need to get used to.

Unlike most fighting games, InuYasha isn't a mostly 2-D system, or even as close to a 2-D system as Soul Calibur is; characters can run all over the fighting arena, and will turn their back on an opponent. In making up for the rather simple set of attacks given to each character, Bandai's programmers came up with a novel solution: offer players the chance to "control" two characters at once. The primary character is directly controlled; the teammate is controlled only by executing certain combo strings (which will cause them to attempt to attack in tandem) or by changing their attack mode between one of four options with the R1 or L1 buttons. The fighting options include full defensive mode, a mode designed to split the enemy fighters apart, a mode designed to protect the player, and a mode focusing constant attacks on the main character's target. The game also tries to keep track of how well the player works together with their teammate and protects them, awarding "level ups" in the affinity between characters, and a dual finishing attack IF the player can get their ranking high enough during the fight.

Since 2-player battling isn't always an option, the game gives players a few (but unfortunately short) alternate modes of play. Battle mode is the first, and it's just as its name implies; players can fight each other, fight against the computer, or just watch computer controlled characters duke it out. In battle mode there's also the option to choose whether or not to have a backup character, although the game's tactics in straight one-on-one combat are decidedly lacking.

The second mode, Story, is used for showing what little of the game relates to the cartoon series and unlocking secret characters. In all, when the game is started, there are four "secret" characters waiting to be unlocked (here's a hint: two of them are InuYasha himself). Beating a certain story mode will unlock the next, until all four are open; beating one without losing a single fight will unlock that story's secret character. Story mode can be fun for a short while, but I finished it off in less than 2 hours total, so don't expect it to hold you for long. There are also only four story chapters, rather than one for each character, which may irk some fans of certain characters.

The final mode, Mission, is a cross between a tutorial and an exploratory mode. Mission mode pits the player against three challenges on each arena in the game, unlocking the final set only after all others are completed. Mission also has a training area where players go against infinite enemies, powering up their character's battle statistics to improve the odds of winning various matches.

Mission mode could have been the most interesting part of InuYasha: Feudal Combat, but there are a few things holding it back. For starters, the game allows only five save states, but includes different missions for every one of the game's fourteen characters, meaning that eventually players will have to erase states in order to explore new characters. Secondly, some of the missions are a bit on the ridiculous side. My most infamous example includes one from InuYasha's own path; one battle's goal is to destroy thirteen objects on a stage, and then (and ONLY then) defeat the two battle opponents. Unfortunately, rather than simply making each destructable object targetable, the programmers opted to remove InuYasha's autotargeting capability, causing his combination attacks against the opponents to travel often in the wrong direction. The same can't be said for the computer opponents, leaving players with a frustrating time of trying to keep their backup alive, destroy the objects, and then fight a losing battle with non-working controls against two of the game's cheesiest opponents.

Mission mode, and all modes, are also marred by a camera which likes to keep as close to the ground as possible; it works well on about half the maps, but the game's final map and a map with rocks strewn about can easily leave characters obscured behind mist or rocks, tapping buttons randomly and trying to guess what the computer is doing rather than actually fighting.

In terms of graphics and sound, InuYasha is quite solid. The game's backgrounds, including some minor obstacles/traps, are rendered in highly skinned 3D, while the characters are cel shaded. As strange as it sounds, it works quite well and feels right for the cartoon series, which places cel animation into hand-drawn backgrounds with occasional 3-D generated insertions. Bandai also got the voice acting cast from the American series to reprise their roles for the game's audio, so those familiar with the series won't feel their senses jarred by a voice that doesn't sound right for any of the characters.

At the end of the day, InuYasha isn't a 100% bad game, but it's nothing revolutionary in the fighting game market and quite a bit short on content. If you're a die-hard fan of the cartoons then go ahead and buy it, but I'd strongly suggest that anyone unfamiliar rent it first to give it a try-out; you're likely to finish it off by the time your rental is due.

Added:  Saturday, September 03, 2005
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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