||Power Stone 2
Play it again, Sam - Review By Mad Carl
It's a tie as to which of two things irritates me most about Power Stone 2. For one thing it's designed as a four player battle royale. This is all fine and dandy. I'm a big fan of using all four controller ports on the old Dreamcast. However, when a four way battle starts, it's next to impossible to keep track of where your character is and what the hell they're doing. I have a pretty big television to play on and, as a left over bad habit of my childhood, I sit entirely too close to the screen. Far more often than not, I found myself frantically slapping the attack button and spinning the analog stick around, hoping I was hitting something, anything at all. The problem isn't there in the 1-on-1 battles, or in Adventure mode, but in 4 player Arcade mode, you're almost always at a loss for what is actually going on.
The wacky special moves are still present and accounted for.
The second thing that irks me with this game is (assuming you can tell what's happening) it's too freaking short. About another three battles would have felt better than the shortchange we get, with a measly three regular battles and two "boss" battles. It looks like Capcom traded quantity for quality, and that's all well and good. However, the five arenas available in the game all have three segments and I would have easily settled for seven arenas of two segments. I would have even settled for fifteen distinct arenas and forgone the entire angle of fighting across several sections of a given arena. In the end, I suppose I'm really complaining that I didn't get enough of a good thing, so take my whining about lack of levels with a grain of salt.
Back to the 4-way battle for a minute. These fights inherently break the single most important design element of the Power Stone series. That element is, of course, the Power Stones themselves. In 1-on-1 battles, there are only ever three Power Stones on the playing field at any one time. Since it takes three Stones to be able to perform your special moves, this is perfect balancing. Only one person can be all powerful at any one time. Holding onto the Stones becomes important and something you strive to do. Yet, during the 4 player battles, the Stones are more plentiful than fleas at a petting zoo. As such, there's no challenge in acquiring the Stones. In fact, you can sometimes just hide in a corner while the others duke it out, quietly collecting your Stones. Then BAM, you drop the hammer on everyone else and the fight is over.
That's a long fall, chief.
Lastly, at the end of the game, the final fight suddenly gives up on Power Stone 2 and literally becomes a game of Final Fight as you move from the left side of the screen to the right, battling generic enemies along the way. Then, when you get to the ultimate evil bad guy, Dr. Erode, he's a Super Nintendo-era pushover who is easily dispatched once you learn his patterns. Instead of a cool multi-stage final boss like the first game had, here we get something that not only looks like a lame animatronics display at Disneyland, but pretty much fights like one.
The Final Word
Power Stone 2 boils down to just being more Power Stone, which is never a bad thing. It doesn't completely live up to its predecessor in all areas (ease of play, final boss), but in others (arena design, Adventure Mode) it's actually better. However, rather than call this Power Stone 2, I almost wish Capcom had taken up its Street Fighter hobby and called this Power Stone Alpha -- then I might have been more impressed. Those points aside, Power Stone 2 is yet another solid entry in the Dreamcast's fighting library.
Highs: Great graphics, great controls, more of the Power Stone we all love.
Lows: Hard to keep track of your character, slightly unbalanced in 4-player mode, way too short.
Other: 1-4 players, VMU Compatible (64 Blocks), Jump Pack compatible, Arcade Stick Compatible, VGA Box Compatible.
Gameplay 1 (MPEG) - 1 on 1 on a hovercraft. [Big (10.9M)] - [Med (5.9M)] - [Small (1.3M)]
Gameplay 2 (MPEG) - That crazy chef, what'll he do next? [Big (12.3M)] - [Med (6.6M)] - [Small (1.4M)]
Gameplay 3 (MPEG) - The 4 player brawls are incredibly hectic. [Big (16.3M)] - [Med (8.8M)] - [Small (1.9M)]
(out of a possible 10)
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