Power Stone 2
Play it again, Sam - Review By Mad Carl
The original Power Stone was one of the reasons I bought a Dreamcast at the American launch. A friend of mine had an import Dreamcast and a Japanese copy of Power Stone. A lot of hours were burned away in front of that TV, beating the crap out of each other in the crisp 3D arenas. The action was comic book like in its intensity. The characters were original and distinct, and the buttons were there for one purpose, and one purpose alone: to be mashed, mashed, and mashed some more. Yet, unfortunately for Power Stone, there was another game out at American launch called Soul Caliber. A lot of people bought that instead, and missed out on the pure wacky fun that was the original Power Stone.
When Power Stone 2 showed up at this year's E3, there was much rejoicing. For those of us who knew the original, here was more of our beloved game. For those of you who were too busy trying to look up Sophitia's dress all of last winter, Power Stone 2 represented an opportunity to experience a whole new style of fighting game. Did it live up to this promise? Will the Power Stone faithful be happy? Well, yes and no.
The good news is, if you're looking for more of the same, you've found it. The 1-on-1 action is pure Power Stone. Combat areas are still as interactive as ever, allowing you to yank poles out of the ground and whack your opponent upside the head with them. The lush graphics and fluid frame rate are still present and accounted for. And most importantly, the battle for control of the Power Stones, which unlock god-like abilities in your character, is still the center of attention.
Who needs fireballs when you have an industrial-sized flamethrower?
All of the old characters are back, along with four new fighters by the name of Pete, Julia, Gourmand (my favorite), and Accel. Not only do these new characters fit the Power Stone mold, they actually manage to up the ante in weird super abilities. For example, if anyone can adequately explain to me why Gourmand turns into a pink fire-breathing dinosaur, I'll buy you a candy bar. More than once I found myself asking if I could please have some of whatever it was that the design team was apparently smoking.
Controls are solid, which is to be expected from Capcom. The game plays equally well with either the standard controller or the Arcade Stick. Since Power Stone 2 is not a joystick/button combo intensive game ala the Street Fighter series, the analog stick will do just fine for most players. Part of the game designer's mantra seems to have been "keep it simple, stupid". There is only one attack button, and when rapidly pounded upon it will help you smite your enemies. Picking up and using objects, even busting out super moves… it's all incredibly simple to do.
There's an interesting Adventure Mode where you get one life to complete the entire game (not an easy task). During the "adventure" you will be able to collect the various items and power-ups found throughout the game to add to your arsenal. It adds an extra level of thought to the combat when you're diving for the gun with more than the intention of just wasting your enemies. You'll also want to use that gun after the battle, when you visit the Item Shop. Once in the Item Shop you can combine multiple items to make all new uber-items. I'm lame and could never manage to stumble onto a proper combination, but I'll tell you what -- I played for several hours just rounding up as many diverse items as I could in hopes of creating something new and cool. Hopefully my luck will soon change.
That's the end of Rouge.
The best thing about Power Stone 2 is the combat arenas themselves. There's never been a fighting game where the arenas were so alive. One level has you racing up the side of a pagoda, trying to keep from falling off the screen while punching the crap out of your enemies. Another arena has you battling on top of a rapidly decaying sky ship, followed by a harrowing skydiving sequence where you must find an umbrella in the falling debris around you, or take some damage upon landing. As with the first game, the arena itself can sometimes be used as a weapon. Poles and support beams can be ripped off the wall and used to smack enemies around. Boxes and tables and chairs can all be used to your advantage. This massive interactivity really sets Power Stone 2 apart from its fighting game contemporaries, excepting, of course, for the original Power Stone.
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