|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||Rival Schools|
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|Distributor:||Capcom||1-4 Player (Multi)|
|Game Type:||Fighting||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||November 1998||Dual Shock/Analog Compatible|
Setting the Scene
What you've got here is your basic school gangs getting off on other school gangs. Rival Schools pits preppies against burnouts, jocks against their teachers...anything goes in this intense rivalry. Actually the story isn't really about student against student, but instead about a group of school kids that begin to investigate the mysterious disappearances of their fellow students. Of course people begin to suspect that the school boards and perhaps the Government itself may be responsible for the kids vanishing act. The good news is that you get to pick and choose whomever you want to have fight each other, so it can easily become a melee of student against student and teacher against teacher...or any combination you choose...hehehe.
Rival Schools is a 2D ½ fighting game that pits school students against rival school students in a fight to the finish.
The graphics in Rivals Schools are quite reminiscent of those found in Capcom first polygon fighter, Street Fighter EX, which I thought to be pretty good. The characters have a distinct blockiness to them, but everything is well defined and crisp with good contrasting colors that stand out well against the backgrounds. The character animation is a wee bit choppy, but moves along at a constant pace and looks just fine. Backgrounds appear to be hand painted pre-rendered 2D backdrops. They are quite detailed in design and have random animations occurring on a frequent basis. I really liked the way the background scenes scrolled left and right and moved around the character actions. There are also the now customary Capcom special effects treats that we have all come to love and expect. Fighters spew out all sorts of wonderfully vivid lighting attacks that result in a smattering of explosive light-sourching, blurring and particle effects that will dazzle your eyes. The opening Anime sequence is very well done and there is also nice hand drawn art of the individual character that are displayed between stages to help make the load times bearable. Overall the graphics perform up to par with SF EX yet fall a quite a bit short of Tekken III's brilliance. Hey, compared to the arcade version of Rival Schools this version stacks up as a very good looking translation.
Sounds and Effects
Ideally it seems that all of Capcom's games contain the same quirky music and sound effects with minor variations throughout the select series. It is a quite distinctive barrage of melodies and effects that anyone familiar with Capcom fighters will be comfortable with right away. The music has a distinctive arcade feel to it that draws gamers in and then surrounds the gameplay in its own unique fashion. Everything is obviously synthesized and does the job in getting you primed for action. Sound effects are your standard punch, kick, and connect combinations that deliver what you would expect in this type of game. There is also a good supporting array of sounds for all of the special effects that occur during the game. All of the character vocals have been left in Japanese and add a certain spice and occasion chuckle to the game.
Rival Schools comes packed with two discs. The first is a direct arcade port of the title featuring additional music. This disc comes complete with the original 20 arcade characters as well as additional "stuff" that can be unlocked as you progress through the game. There is also training mode that pits your selected character against the computer in an effort to hone and perfect your fighting skills. Finally there is a two-player battle mode that allows you to select a stage and then duke it out with a buddy. The second disc is called the Evolution Disc. This one takes the basic arcade game and adds a slew of extra features. In addition to the 20 arcade characters, you can select up to 24 different special characters. These extra characters do a good job of balancing the gameplay out and are a welcome addition to an already fine game. In addition you also get a slew of new game modes. First there is a two-player Group Battle that enables you to fight against a friend in gangs. You select the number of characters for each group and the last fighter left standing is the winner. There is League Battle that lets you participate against other teams in a round robin type of event. The team with the most victories at the end is the victor. This ended up being one of my favorite modes. Next is tournament battle for one or two players where you select a main and support characters (partner) character to do battle. Cooperative mode is a blast, allowing up to four human players to participate via the Multi-tap with two players on each side. One controlling the main character and the other controlling the partner character. This mode is kinda tricky as only two players are really fighting at a time, but the second player controls the tag team portion and then gains control of the main characters once the swap has occurred. I will make this a bit more clear as you progress through this review. Finally there is a unique Lesson mode. Here you select a character and basically send him or her through fighting school. Gym instructor, Hayato will direct the festivities...selecting your opponents and challenging you to pull off moves as he dictates them to you. At the end of the lesson you are given a final grade (E - A) after various attributes have been tallied up. There are those rare individuals that will get perfect marks in all categories and attain an "S" rating, signifying expertise in that particular lesson. This is an excellent way to learn all of the various facets of the game in a very enjoyable format! Now on to the actual gameplay! Rival Schools plays out very much like SF EX. Character movement is basically 2D with a sidestep move added in for good measure. This gives the gameplay a slight feeling of depth, but is really nothing more than moving your player momentarily out of harms way, as the characters automatically readjust to their face-off positions. In a one-player game you select a main character and a partner character. The main character does the actual fighting for that round but by pressing either both kick or both punch buttons simultaneously you can call in your partner to team up with you in pummeling the opponent. This works out real well and causes significant damage too! After each round you can elect to change your partner to your primary fighter or stay with what you've got...your call. Gameplay mechanics have been simplified...now there really just four buttons required for the basics; heavy punch, light punch, heavy kick, light kick. Button mashing will get you some unique moves but more often than not moving the directional pad around and then pressing a button will execute most of those characters special moves. I thought the response time to some of my button presses was a bit lacking, which surprised me because Capcom fighters are usually right on the money with attack commands. It actually seemed that the more time and thought that I put into issuing each command the more successful I became. I suppose that's a good thing... A simple press of the shoulder button will execute the Burning Vigor attack...which I assume is your basic teenage hormonal imbalance being channeled into raw energy...hey, it works! There is also the ability to throw your rival into the air and then launch after them and continue with attack combos. As you can see there are quite a few special moves to learn and use. I found Rival Schools to be a very decent fighting game with enough innovative little twists to make things interesting in the long haul. The game serves its purpose as a solid fighter that should have you coming back for more.
Value for Money
Two discs just loaded with fighters and options make this title a pretty attractive offer. Gameplay is initially rather simple, but quite deep once you actually spend some time learning all the character moves and intricacies. The game will even support up to four players with a Multi-tap for some good party action. The characters are all quite unique and well balanced over the course of gameplay. Heck you even get 20 Fighters Edge points...how can you miss?
Schools is a pretty slick fighting game that throws a boatload of
options and special moves at you to use.
The graphics serve their purpose and the sound effects are typical Capcom fare.
With so many fighters...actually I should say, with so many really good fighters available for the Playstation right now, anybody releasing a new fighting title had better have something unique to set themselves apart or face getting lost in a sea of mediocrity. Well, Rival Schools definitely has that little something special with its rather original pretense and some really juicy fighting options.
It should grab you attention with its initial ease of gameplay and then suck you in when you begin to discover the depth this title offers and all of those wonderfully devastating attacks that you can learn to pull off.