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A.P.I Review: Pocket Fighter
Developer: Capcom OPTIONS: S.SHOT
SCREENSHOTS:
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Virgin 1-2 Player
Game Type: Beat-em-up Memory Card
Review Date: November 1998 Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

Using the same stylized fighters seen in Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Pocket Fighter manages to combine cute graphics with Capcom's typically engrossing gameplay.

Fighting takes place within a number of beautifully drawn locations, and players battle to collect power-up gems. Each character is equipped with a wealth of special attacks, and these can be pieced together to form devastating attacks worthy of their full size counterparts.

Genre

Pocket Fighter is the latest addition to Capcom's celebrated 2D fighting series for the PlayStation, and could just about be the most light-hearted fighting game you're ever likely to play.

Graphics

The introduction follows a similar line to other Street Fighter beat-em-ups. Each of the colorful cardboard cut-out characters are shuffled around the screen like a pack of cards over a rainbow backdrop. Throw in a couple on animated bats, a few twinkling stars, a wealth of gems, a rather poor attempt at the lens flare technique and there you have it. Not very impressive, but perhaps I smell a little bit of reverse psychology here.

You see, it actually has the opposite effect to those other titles which offer a grandeur opening. It reduced my expectations of the in-game animations as I duly plodded through the option screens to set up the game. Suddenly you are thrust into Round One and then... WHAM...! The character art and animation is brilliant.

I realize that the Playstation is predominantly about moving polygons around the screen and creating life-like 3D worlds but Pocket Fighters goes a long way to proving that 2D animations and effects can be equally pleasing to the eye.

Most of the backgrounds are layered giving them a multi-dimensional appearance. Right at the very back you get a faded flat backdrop of the playing areas specific theme. This may be of a public bar, a beach resort, a shopping centre, a ski resort... plus many more.

In front of this motionless drawing neon signs switch on and off, Christmas tree bulbs flash at regular intervals, log fires blaze and down-lights flicker.

Slightly overlapping the previous two levels you have moving animations of townsfolk who go about their everyday business, skiers can be seen launching off the piste and crazy characters ride across the screen on fluffy clouds.

Power-ups fall from the sky and litter a further layer while the fighting characters and their crunching effects appear in the forefront. I bet this game looks cool with 3D specs on.

Sounds and Effects

Although the background tunes come directly from the 'Capcom library of fighting melodies' and the sound effects come directly from the 'Capcom library of ooh's and ahh's' (they must have dozens of these stashed away somewhere), they neither differ from the normal nor offend the ears.

If there is one failing it must be those high pitched Japanese utterances that can be heard prior to each and every bout.

Playability

Before letting the fight commence you may browse through the game options for a short while or spend a little longer in the Edit Fighter menu where you may customize your very own fighter by... truthfully answering a set of very personal questions. Oh well, I suppose it's different.

Game options allow for adjusting difficulty, damage level, rounds, speed, time count and screen mode. Battle options offer Arcade, Free, Running and Training.

Free Battle allows up to two players to compete using any from 12 characters with a handicap system to ensure that fighting is fair. Running Battle is a challenge to see how many consecutive opponents you can beat up. Training offers the facility to work out the combination of those special moves with a practice session between any two characters.

Arcade is your typical one vs one battle. Select any character from the ten initially available with a cast featuring recognizable-albeit youthful-heroes previously seen in the Street Fighter and Darkstalkers series. Young versions of Ken, Ryu, Chun-Li, Sakura, Akuma, Zangief, Abuki and Dan are ready to slug it out with the macabre Darkstalkers trio of Felicia, Morrigan, and Hsien-Ko. A new character, Tessa, also makes her Capcom debut, having previously starred in the Warzard arcade game in Japan.

Once chosen you get a short cute story for each character as they set out on their quest to defeat all comers. Fighting follows the usual format by pressing single buttons and combinations that make your character kick, punch, taunt and perform special attacks. The array of special moves are amazing and usually result in you scratching your head wondering however you managed to pull that one off. Each time you strike your opponent a selection of colored gems will fall to the floor. If collected your strength and special powers will be increased.

I quite enjoyed playing Pocket Fighter. It certainly was a refreshing change from the usual 3D gore-fest that's around at the moment. The characters may be small enough to fit in your pocket but have been very well animated and move around the screen at a healthy pace.

Value for Money

There is something about Pocket Fighters that simply oozes quality. Take a break from your Tekken's and Mortal Kombat's to see the Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo kids slap each other around. It's not a 'must have' game but is certainly worth checking out if 2D beat-em-ups are your scene.

Opinion
MARTIN
GRAPHICS: 17/20 If you are fed up of seeing blood and guts splattered all over the screen then take a welcome break with the sweet and cutesy Pocket Fighters. Harmless, gentle, inoffensive violence.
SOUND: 6/10
PLAYABILITY: 42/50
VALUE: 15/20
OVERALL 80%

 

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