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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Power Stone 2 Review

Original Release:
Japan: April 27, 2000
North America: August 23, 2000
Europe: August 24, 2000

Game Details:
1-4 Players
VMU enabled
Standard Controller, Arcade Stick
Jump Pak enabled
VGA box

Power Stone 2 takes the solid foundation laid by the original game of the same name, and ups the ante in just about every way imaginable. The game makes major alterations and improvements in many areas of the game. Where the original was a traditional 1on1 arena fighter, the sequel supports and encourages 4 player battles (making ample use of those 4 ports on your DC) and expands it ten fold to accommodate the action! These arenas are a major showcase for the game as well as playing a major role in the gameplay dept. as players can once again interact with them in multiple ways to battle against their opposition(s). The roster has been modestly updated with an additional 6 fighters joining the fray and weapon selection has been IMMENSELY expanded from the original. Gameplay modes include the traditional "Arcade" (3 levels of 4 man battles, and 2 bosses), "1on1" (similar to arcade mode but in a 1on1 format), "Original" (essentially the games equivalent to a Versus and Training mode all rolled into one), "Adventure" (a mode where you go through the game in an attempt to collect currency, items and weapons to be used in all modes) and the "Item Shop" (aka Mel's shop. Take all your money, items and weapons collected and spend, sell, trade or even mix to unlock every item locked in the game). In terms of replay value, the games sheer amount of unlockables will keep single players occupied. Oh and of course lets not forget about those stones, I'm talking about POWER STONES! Just like the first game, these power stones appear throughout a fight. First to collect 3 is rewarded with a super version of your character and gains access to special attacks and super moves (Power Drive and Power Fusion respectively) which is controlled by a gauge seen underneath your life meter. Changes made to the rule book of the first game include the removal of the kick button (thus gone are air dive kicks and 1 of 2 power drive moves) as well as the game dropping over 7 Power Stones at a time as oppose to just 3 by default rules.

This game may not be the highest graphical achievement set on the Dreamcast, but man oh man is it SO pretty! Sharp, fluid, super colorful and wonderful texture models all running at a pretty constant 60fps. The game is simply eye candy from top to bottom thanks to its array of special effects ranging from transformations to ridiculously pyrotechnic projectile supers to even the actual stage background themselves. The game is yet another result of a wonderful Sega NAOMI arcade production that is once again perfectly ported over to the Dreamcast. From personally putting many hours on this game at the local arcade, i can assure that PS2 on the Dreamcast is arcade perfect! Oh! and i'd like to add, PLEASE play this game with aid of a VGA box if you can. The game completely benefits from the 480p visual enhancement!

This category is great in just about all respects from my point of view (or ears lol!). The announcer, while cheesy, adds to the scope of the action and is easily understood compared to the first game. Sound FX are a plenty and sound awesome from slashes, punches, bullets and all sorts of mayhem in between. The characters themselves have great Japanese dialogue that really add to their fun personalities. The music is a wonderful mix of orchestral and cartoon like themes that elevate the world of Power Stone 2 (it has almost a very playful Soul Calibur type of musical flair). Listen to "Extra Stage 3" and you might get what i'm talking about ;)

I'll be honest, After being such a big fan of the first game with its solid 1on1 foundation, i was a bit skeptic and turned off by the direction that was taken with PS2 and its emphasis on multiplayer and larger role of stage interaction. I truly felt that the importance of the actual traditional fight was somehow tainted by party type antics and weapon dependency. As time went on and after investing much time in the game over the years however, i see that my concerns could not be further from the truth. There is an amazing reward given to those who wish to master the game and actually play it in a semi competitive sense (there is a respective scene out there that play it in a competitive nature believe me). With 4 experienced players, the game becomes a delicate balance of skill, reflex, uncanny decision making and (due to its random nature) some luck.


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