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Developer Hudsonsoft Options
Distributer Virgin 1-2 Player
Game Type Beat-em-up Memory Card
Review Date March 1998 Standard Joypad
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Setting the Scene
During the last century the ever expanding population and some of our technological advances have affected the Earth's environment in many ways and destructive reactions are now beginning to take place. The human race is heading for collapse.

Unaware to most, zoanthroapes are a race of creatures who unique characteristics allow them to transform from human state into animals. This rare condition condition means that these individuals are naturally suited to the martial arts and one-on-one combat, since their animal incarnations can tear through human opponents in a matter of seconds. It becomes apparent that a certain genetic code would bring surprising changes to the human body through stimulation. By activating this code, the characteristics and capabilities of other species lying dormant in the human body can be awakened to unleash beings with superhuman physical powers and agility. This results in a human-beast amalgam and the development of the zoanthropic phenomenon.

Thus a species which, for various reasons, can transform its body and characteristics begin to appear around the world... all displaying superhuman strength, astounding athletic ability and the power to morph into raging, half-human beasts.

A medical team of the Tylon Organization sets out to kidnap, breed and train these zoanthropes, hoping to assemble an almost indestructible fighting army to take over the world. While some join willingly, others fight against the Organization to avenge the deaths and disappearances of their own kind. Tigers, wolves, wild boars - will mankind depend on the claws, fangs and cunning of savage beasts to bring the world safely into the next millennium?

Prepare for some intense fighting action as a selection of fearsome fighters and vicious beasts wage war against each other in a beat-em-up with over 200 fast and furious moves - including brutal combos, multi-string hits, blocks, kicks, throws, grappling moves and much more.

Yet again we witness the power of the Playstation with an intro of stunning quality showing each of the games main characters in both human and beast form. Once the appetite has been wet you are treated to a main course that is like a breath of fresh air, attacking this genre with a somewhat diverse approach while remaining pleasing to the eye.

Each battle takes place in an enclosed arena (for the moment, anyway) which appears to have a double background. First you have the inner ring. This is surrounded by a 3D landing area that relates to the particular levels background theme. These range from deserted highways, where the landing area is a road, the Colosseums courtyard, an Ironworks melting pot, to a more scenic seaside setting where a moat of water surrounds the ring. Finally you have a flat backdrop which ties the whole picture together. I was quite impressed by some of the additional touches such as the way that the wind blows sand across the arena on the desert stage.

The ring is surrounded by iron bars, pointed rails, electric force-field or solid slabs of reinforced steel. These are supposed to keep you opponents contained within the arena when the fight is going well or stop you from getting out if things change for the worse. Better still, there is an option that allows the surrounding wall to be destroyed by pounding your victim against the barriers. Once down, a smart sidestep or a swift throwing move will see your opponent fall from the arena into the second layer of scenery to be counted out. Obviously a certain amount of caution is required because once the walls fall they remain down until the final round and your opponent will also attempt to use this to his advantage.

The fully 3D characters are incredibly well animated and fluid in their movements and actually reach a similar standard to those previously seen in high quality beat-em-ups such as Soul Blade. The fighters begin the bout in human form with a fully charged health bar but by successfully completing a range of attacking moves a second power bar reaches the maximum point allowing the characters to morph into their beast form during combat. Cunning Foxs! Raging tigers! Snarling wolves! In this eat-or-be-eaten fighting game, players need their claws, cunning, and hair-trigger reflexes to survive.

Every connecting blow is treated to a series of over the top effects as the screen comes alive with fireballs, explosions, shock waves and blinding flashes of lightning. Another option worth mentioning is the blood effects which may be switched on for a truly blood splattering encounter or left off, should you be a little squeamish.

Sounds and Effects
The sound effects are awesome. Every movement is exaggerated to the umpteenth degree - a mis-timed punch can be heard swishing through the air like a twister coming to town while a connecting combo is represented by the sound of an almighty WHACK, crunching bones and an ear splitting scream of pain from the victim. Transformation into beast is accompanied by a mini earthquake and visible tremors that knock your opponent across the ring as if struck by a bolt of lightening.

The music that accompanies the action is a selection of rock tunes that seem a little dated having a very seventies feel to them. Sort of mild Wishbone Ash. There is also an announcer that introduces the fight and comments at the end of a battle.

We've established that Bloody Roar has excellent visual and sound effects but it's the gameplay that usually the lets most fighting games down. Not so in this case. This title plays as good as it looks and belongs up there with the more prestigious beat-em-ups available on Playstation format. Furthermore, the beast morph idea allows this game to stand firmly on it's own ground without being tagged a Soul Blade or Tekken clone.

A simple set up menu allows you to quickly select the desired mode of play. There is Arcade mode where the player chooses one from eight initially available characters. Not only does this choice decide which sex your character is but also which creature you control when the beast is unleashed. Yugo transforms into a snarling wolf. Gado a cunning lion. Alice a fluffy but deadly rabbit. Bakuryu a mole with razor sharp claws. Greg into a giant gorilla. Long becomes a fierce tiger. Mitsuko a Wart Hog. Finally Fox transforms into a sly (you guessed it) fox. Each character must defeat all of the others before facing the terrifying final Boss.

Before a contest begins you may visit the option menu where the usual tweaks in gameplay may be adjusted. Difficulty ranges over eight settings, as do the attack levels. It is here where you decide whether you want blood to flow during battles and the walls to become destructible.

Other gameplay options include a two player Vs mode, sharpen your skills in Practice Mode. Try Kids or Big Head options and, if you have the nerve, brace yourself for Time Attack or Survival Mode! You may also visit the Gallery which is packed with movies, illustrations and character shots. There is also a Records file where you can keep a record of your hard-won victories; track the number of battles and wins for each character.

Controlling your fighter is a relatively simple affair utilizing only the face buttons on the control pad, although grabbing and throwing moves may be configured onto one of the shoulder buttons. At first you feel that Bloody Roar is a little short on moves but combining buttons and direction brings forth a wonderful array of combos. The game boasts over twenty moves for each character and I have yet to find them all, but the moves that were discovered offered enough variation and style to keep most gamers playing for a very long time.

When fighting in human form you must take care not to activate beast mode until you feel you will gain most advantage. A flick of the circle button unleashed the beast from within and you strength is increased ten fold. Different and more powerful moves become available with each character having numerous special moves that diminishes your opponents health rapidly. The CPU intelligence is determined by the difficulty that you set the game at. On a low setting they will take a more defensive role while turning up the heat will leave you fending off up to ten hit combos that rain down from all angles and are perform at a frightening speed. An additional feature is the Beast Rave. When activated your character glows temporarily and can perform many remarkable actions.

Value for Money
If you are a lover of this genre then I can thoroughly recommend you purchase a copy of Bloody Roar

GRAPHICS: 18/20 Bloody Roar, bloody good game? Bloody right it is! This 'beast-em-up' fills the gap nicely while we await the arrival of Tekken 3.
SOUND: 7/10
VALUE: 15/20

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