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Bloody Roar 3 - The Power Of The Beast

By Yoamiwaii, Nov 28 2017 09:00AM

[ARTICLE BY: Amiwaii]

Let’s welcome back the fighting beasts to the battlefield as they take on a whole new challenge, and a creature unlike they’ve ever faced before.

I continue on with my celebration of the 20th anniversary of Bloody Roar by ploughing on to discuss the third game in the franchise. Once again a collaborative project between publisher Hudson Soft and developer Eighting/8ing, the third instalment of the series came about during the early life of the PlayStation 2, and was a welcome jump from the PlayStation 1, with its graphics a vast improvement from its predecessors. In fact, it was a very decent looking PlayStation 2 game at the time of its release. Though, before it even hit the home consoles, it had done the rounds in the arcade scene in Japan during 2000. When it finally did arrive on the PlayStation 2 in 2001, it was during a time when there wasn’t an excessive amount of competition to contend with, so was a nice little gap filler while fighting game aficionados waited for other big name releases to hit the scene.

We delve back into the world of Bloody Roar, taking place a year after the second game, with the story revolving around an incident where strange marks appear on the bodies of Zoanthropes – known as ‘XGC’, which bestows those branded with it with incredible power, but at the same time, leads to their untimely death. The intensity of the mark can overwhelm those not able to handle the power, and many lives are claimed as a result. Unrest is caused because of the phenomena between humans and Zoanthropes, and the heroes of the game series – also afflicted by the mark – set out on a journey to discover the source of the mark and whoever might be involved in the situation unfolding. They will all find themselves lured towards the Tabula, the beholder of ultimate beast power, and a new foe, whose beast form is like no other on Earth.

With the scene set, we step into a game that proves to be a fantastic step up in many aspects compared to its PlayStation 1 forerunners. The game runs with a solid frame rate and has very nice graphics are an early PlayStation 2 game. The graphics are a lot more dynamic in presentation this time around. Aside the characters being more colourful and distinctive, the visuals of the stages have more impact with their animations, giving them a livelier feel. The first and second games had only minimal use of animation in the backgrounds, due to the hardware restrictions of the time. To give you an example of a stage with much more going on around the fight, there is one set on an aircraft carrier which constantly has aircraft taking off and crewmembers at work. The atmosphere is blustery as the characters are fighting out on an open deck, and it all meshes well together without being too visually detracting. Such things were just a nice touch to couple alongside the action.

Even for the third game in the series, it hasn’t advanced much in terms of controls. It’s still one button for punch, one for kick, and one for the beast transformation/beast attack button. It all plays out pretty much in the same way it had done before; build up your beast gauge to transform into your character into their more powerful beast form and unleash hell on your opponents. Upgrades to the gameplay include the characters now having the ability to perform two different beast drives – power up special moves, which is a nice little upgrade as there was only one type of these moves for each character when this ability was first introduced into the second game in the series. There is also a new mechanic called ‘Hyper Beast Mode’, which you have the option to activate if you completely fill your beast gauge. It is basically a super version of your beast form which lasts for a short time, where strength and speed are ramped up to the max, and removes breaks between attacks. It is a very powerful mode to activate and can completely wreck your opponent, but to have such a gain, there is a sacrifice. After your bar runs out, you de-transform, and lose your beast bar altogether, meaning you can’t transform again during the rest of the match. It’s an updated version of the ‘Rave’ mode from the first game, which rapidly depleted your beast bar for the strength and speed boost, but this time around it penalises you more harshly for the extra power up. Even so, it does mix up the gameplay a bit, creating a risk-reward situation.

Moving onto the cast of characters; everyone from the second game returns to the fray, plus three newcomers onto the scene. The returning playable characters and their beast forms are as follows: -

YUGO OGAMI – THE WOLF – Former Boxer, now the leader of an NGO called the World of Co-Existence (W.O.C. for short). He takes it upon himself to protect those he cares about by tackling the troubles head on alone.

ALICE TSUKAGAMI – THE RABBIT – Former Nurse, now a volunteer translator for the W.O.C. She pursues Yugo to help him and discover the truth of the mark.

URIKO NONOMURA – THE HALF BEAST – An exuberant school girl who is bored during peaceful times and decides to follow after Yugo and Alice, because she has nothing better to do.

SHINA (JEANNE GADO) – THE LEOPARD – A Mercenary and Gado’s adopted daughter. She joins a mission known as ‘Klaw and Fang’ to discover the truth behind the XGC.

JENNY BURTORY – THE BAT – A Model and Spy. She pursues the source power behind the mark for her own ends.

HAJIME BUSUZIMA – THE CHAMELEON – A Mad Scientist, determined to capitalise on the power of the XGC. His mark just so happens to be across his butt!

STUN (STEVEN GOLDBERG) – THE INSECT – Deformed by experimentation, Stun lives out his days in pain. He is inspired by Jenny to seek out the power of XGC to stem his torment.

ALAN GADO – THE LION – Former Mercenary, now United Nations Commissioner, who focuses on reconciling the relations between humans and Zoanthropes. With tensions stirred by the XGC, he takes to the battlefield once again to preserve the peace and seek the truth.

BAKURYU (KENJI/KAKERU OGAMI) – THE MOLE – A ninja and Yugo’s adopted younger brother. He once served as an assassin after brainwashing but was saved by his brother. He now supports Yugo as his second in command at his NGO, and with the emergence of the mark, vows to do everything he can to protect him.

JIN LONG – THE TIGER – A former assassin, tormented by the curse of his Zoanthrope blood. He stays in the household of an old man, whose granddaughter, Lanhua, falls ill due to the mark. Remembering the loss of his younger sister Lingli, who Lanhua reminds him of with her smile, he vows to save her.

SHENLONG – THE TIGER – A clone of Long. He doesn’t care what he is or that he doesn’t have a past. He decides to enter the fray of the XGC incident to kill the men he doesn’t like and drink with the ones he does.

The three new characters introduced in this game are: -

XION – THE UNBORN – The main antagonist of the game; his beast form is that of an insectoid-like alien species trapped in another dimension. He has possession of the Tabula and is gathering power to create a new world.

KOHRYU – THE IRON MOLE – A robot containing battle data and liquefied material from the first Bakuryu, constructed by YUN CHI manufacturing. He has run amok, attacking Zoanthropes with an unknown purpose.

URANUS – THE CHIMERA – A mysterious woman, who might possibly be another experiment, or potentially a future version of Uriko; she serves as an extra boss if you get through arcade mode without losing a round.

Kohryu and Uranus are bonus unlockable characters who have no story modes of their own, and seem to have been added as homage to the original old man Bakuryu and Uriko’s adult and Chimera forms which were exclusive to the first game.

There are four main playable modes within the game. Arcade mode includes a simplified story mode with opening and ending scenes accompanied by text. This has been downgraded from the second game, which had scenes between each bout playing out the story as it went along. When you beat each character’s arcade mode, you unlock their story mode images to be viewed in the options menu. Then there is VS Battle, which is a mode for two players to duke it out against each other – great for friends to see who has the better skills (or not!). Survival mode does what it says on the tin; you have to survive as many bouts as you can, with a health gauge that only replenishes a small bit if you take damage in each round. Once you’re defeated, the game ends, and if you’ve done well, you can put your name on the scoreboard! Worth commemorating after all! Lastly, there is practice mode, which is there for training purposes against a character that can act as a punching bag as you perfect those tricky combos!

Minor modes located in the options menu include CPU Battle Mode, where you can sit back and watch the computer have fisticuffs, and Extra Mode, where you can unlock different types of battles, like High-Speed mode and No Blocking mode, plus many others, just to mix up the style of gameplay. There is certainly enough to keep you entertained. There is also the secret Debug Mode, available only in the Japanese version of the game, which you unlock through button inputs on the main menu. This mode gives you the opportunity to manipulate the character models however you please, and many people have to humorous effect (and yeah, the pervs out there have made the most of inappropriate positions! NSFW!). A shame this mode never made it overseas, as I’m pretty sure Western players would have got a real kick out of it!

What I love most about Bloody Roar 3 is the distinctive character designs that reflect the unique personalities. This game probably showcases some of the best designs in the series – in my opinion anyway – particularly with the ladies. And this is the last game to feature Alice with her pigtails! Such a shame! While it definitely felt in many ways an upgrade from its predecessors, I wish it would have progressed more in terms of controls and mechanics. But I suppose if it works well, why make too many drastic changes? Though, if anything, they could have included a few more different animal forms into the series – in fact, a few more different characters would have been nice to bolster the cast. There are just still way too many felines! At least the characters are fun to play as individually. Story wise, it’s suitably interesting, a step away from the more scientific approach to the series with more mysticism and magical aspects interwoven into the storyline. Though, all it really teaches us is that we shouldn’t trust stones that talk to you. Bad stone! Bad!

Certainly, it was never going to challenge the likes of Tekken or Dead or Alive in terms of mechanics or presentation with their releases at the time, but Bloody Roar 3 still has plenty of fun elements and is a fast and furious fighting game that anybody can pick up and play easily without too much experience of the genre. The third game is a solid edition to the series and is worth checking out by fighting game fans!

So get stuck in, my friends! Let the fur fly!

Images © Hudson Soft/Konami

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