Reviewby Rob Chase,
InuYasha: Feudal Combat
PS2 / Fighting / Eighting
Eighting has made a reputation for itself of specializing in anime-video game crossovers. They were responsible for some great games like Naruto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen and Bleach: Heat and Soul 2, but unfortunately for Inu Yasha, this game fails to impress.
While in most games it isn't an issue, a major drawback in Feudal Combat is the sound quality. Rarely does a game lose marks because of sound, but in this case it's just so awful I eventually decided to play the game muted. It really sounds like a microphone was put up to a TV during an Adult Swim session, and recorded to make up the majority of the game's sound clips. At other times, its like listening to the game through one of those can and string telephone sets you might make as a kid. It's grainy, unprofessional, and sticks out like a sore thumb.
Sadly, the games drawbacks don't stop there. Graphically speaking, the cel-shaded graphics are okay, but seem kind of half-assed. The characters have rough edges that almost seem pixilated during combat, and there aren't even any special cut scenes or extra animation. Even the opening sequence sports the same boring, rough-edged graphics. Backgrounds are somewhat cleaner, but incidentally look much too realistic. At times, the game loses the anime feel and looks more like a failed attempt at a “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” sequel, with cartoon characters running around in the real world. Better done cel-shaded graphics, or a completely realistic approach would have worked, but mixing them doesn't.
Now say for a minute you decide to wear earplugs and blindfold yourself. How does the game play now? Anyone watching you would think you shared a telepathic link with the game, because removing your senses wouldn't effect your moves at all. Combat is simple, and painfully limited. Attacks come in three flavors: weak, power and special. By rapidly pressing square, you can sew together a basic four-hit combo. By holding the analog stick in any direction and repeating the same maneuver, a slightly different combo will result. Likewise, a slower, more powerful combo or attack will result from using the X button. While you fight, you are rewarded for clean hits with spirit power that can be used for special attacks when the spirit power gauge is filled up. Each character has one unique special, like Miroku's Wind Tunnel, and Sesshomoru's Dragon Strike attack. And that's it! No interesting special square, X combo's, no accelerated high speed fighting, no Super Sayain Mega no Jitsu, nothing! You can jump with triangle, and defend with R2, and that's pretty much all who have for options.
Luckily, every character has a completely unique set of attacks that utilize characteristics of that particular fighter. For example: Inu Yasha and Sesshomoru can both beat you down with their swords, while Sango can smack you upside the head with her boomerang. The only exception is Kagome and Kikyo, who both use the same style of bow and arrow, which in context with the anime would make sense. Despite this, characters a fairly well balanced. With the exception of Naraku who is ridiculously hard to beat, even in the AI's hands, there is no blatant advantage to using one character over another. In keeping with the original story, this doesn't quite make sense. Some characters are supposed to be more powerful than the others. In a fighting game it's different, and Eighting does a good job making the balance believable.
While no two fighters fight the same, there isn't much more you can do except mash buttons. There isn't much variety to what you can do, and little to no strategy is needed to win a battle. In short, battles are all about who can press buttons faster. Thankfully, some diversity is presented in the interactive battle areas. If your sword hits a boulder, it shatters. If you get knocked hard back into a pillar and it breaks, the structure it was holding up falls on you (and that really does hurt!). Almost any object that seems out of place for a fight ring can come into play when fighting opponents. Whether it's scaffolding or just loose ground on the edge of a cliff, it can usually be used to your advantage and vice-versa.
Feudal Combat does come with a story mode, but it's a very shallow one at that. You start by playing as Inu Yasha as he hunts down Naraku. His story is divvied up into five battles that make the five chapters of his story. While the entire sequence may only take 10-15 minutes to complete, you can't save between battles. This means that once you start a chapter, you're stuck in it until you beat the final level. This can get to be extremely aggravating if you need to stop playing for a moment for any reason, since you can only pause a chapter during a battle. Once you do complete a chapter, you unlock another chapter for another character. Sadly, only Inuyasha, Miroku/Sango, Sesshomoru and Shippo's chapters are playable before you've “beaten the game.” (Why can't you play as a bad guy?!)
If you're looking for a real challenge, Feudal Combat's “Mission Mode” is the place to be. By completing Mission Mode, you unlock Naraku's Castle, which adds an extra fighting stage. While the reward isn't that spectacular, mission mode is both fun in its beginning stages, and aggravatingly difficult in higher levels. Each character has a different set of challenges to overcome, though some challenges are very similar. Mission Mode almost makes the game worth keeping around, but not quite. From a gaming standpoint, the game doesn't have much to offer. The only originality shown is the partner combat system, where you control one fighter, and the computer controls your ally. But really, your partner will never be very useful except for adding a little bit of chaos to the mix, which is always good in a fighting game. For the most part, he or she will just follow you around and stare at you. Boring? You bet. That's pretty much how this game can be wrapped up into one word. It's unbelievably boring.
Of course, fandom is always a factor when judging a game. It's entirely possible that devout Inu Yasha fans will eat this game up just because its related to the anime. If you're a gamer looking for a fighting game with a story, a lot of gameplay options and a lot of characters to choose from, play Budokai. If you're just an Inuyasha fan looking for a game to hack and slash your buddies with, this game might just work out in your favor. Still, I recommend renting it and seeing what you think before dishing out any more dough. This is not a game I would recommend to anyone but Inu Yasha fans.
Overall : F
Animation : C
Music : D
+ Well balanced characters all with unique fighting styles.
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