Power Stone Collection Review

In 1999 and 2000, the Power Stone games were released by Capcom for the Sega Dreamcast. The titles proved to be fun, humorous and entertaining fighting games. In case you missed the games originally, Capcom decided to release the Power Stone Collection for the PSP. Reaching back to pull old games out of the vault for re-release can be a risky move for a game publisher these days. Has Power Stone seen better days, or will this port of the Power Stone games be a knockout? You have ringside seats, so keep reading and find out what the scorecard says after our review.

But first, a little history. The Power Stone games appeared several years after the Street Fighter craze that first captured the world in the late 80,s began to die down. The original "beat ’em up/fighters" were also referred to as "brawlers," and were noted for their fast fighting action, special moves, and colorful characters. Power Stone, while similar to other fighting games at the time, spiced up the genre by providing a 3D environment rather than the familiar 2D action familiar to fans. In addition, an extra element was added to make the battles more intense: the power stones. Whenever a fighter was able to collect three power stones during the fighting round, he or she would transform into a more powerful character. Often, the timing of when to change into one of these super characters was the difference between losing a fight and winning by the slimmest of margins.

In Power Stone Collection, all of the original elements of the games have been preserved for the PSP edition. Since there are actually two versions of the game on one disk(Power Stone and Power Stone 2) I’ll give an overall description of how these games work, with notes on the differences between the versions when applicable.

So just what kind of fighter is Power Stone? One way to answer this question is to describe this series as a cross between Street Fighter Alpha and Super Smash Brothers with just a hint of Naruto. This combination sounds a little strange, but after spending some serious thumb-numbing time with the game, you,ll see the connections. The gameplay is set in a 3D world where you can move freely in all directions. As you face and beat each opponent, you shift to new environments and locations to face new competitors. Moves are mapped to the right controller buttons; square is for punch, X is for jump, circle is for grabbing your opponent and triangle is for kick. Power Stone 2 differs from this; the triangle button is for dropping objects while the circle button is used as the action button. Using the left analog stick moves your characters. For you old-school gamers, the d-pad can be used as well.

As far as game modes, both games offer single player, network, versus and training. Power Stone 2 offers three additional modes: adventure, one-on-one, and three-on-one. It also offers access to an item shop, mini games, videos and music. The adventure mode of PS2 is challenging and entertaining, as you are given the chance to "escape" a castle by going though a gauntlet of fighting challenges which includes some serious boss battles. The downside to adventure mode is that you may find yourself back at square one if you cannot defeat the boss. One-on-one and three-on-one are pretty much what the names suggest.

The basic play of both games involves not only the task of pummeling your opponent into the ground, but also incorporates several novel features that enhance gameplay. During battles, you,ll be able to move around the 3D environments and use various objects such as crates, tables, chairs and other free standing objects to throw at your adversary. In addition, certain objects randomly appear, and can be used to blow up and hurt your enemy. There are a great deal of weapons to use ranging from guns, bazookas, and flamethrowers to bear traps, iron pipes, bombs, knives, swords and other utensils. Battling the enemies through straight fighting is fun, but with the addition of weapons such as flamethrowers, the game takes on a humorous turn. The items are oversized in relationship to the characters, so the effect can be funny and amusing. Imagine firing off a bazooka that is three times its normal size, and you start to appreciate how this game was planned out. The winner of a match is determined by winning the best out of three fights. Boss battles are won by eroding the heath meter of the boss to zero.

There are eight characters to choose from in PS1, and twelve for PS2. Falcon is the main character, and he’s joined by a supporting cast composed of Ayame, Wing Tang, Gun Rock, Jack, Galuda, Rouge and Ryoma. There are also four additional fighters in PS2: Pete, Julia, Gourmand and Accel. Each fighter has specific powers and strengths, as well as a special transformation that is accessible by collecting the three power stones. This particular feature of the game is what sets this beat ’em up apart from other titles. Your primary objective is to defeat your enemy, but during the battle, the both of you trying to collect three power stones intensifies things. Once the third stone is collected, pressing the R1 or R2 button will activate the special character for a short time. The transformation attacks are very powerful and can help you to overcome an otherwise losing match. On the flip side, if your opponent gets the three stones before you there is virtually no defense to stop the attacks short of just running and hiding. There are only three stones available per match, so you and your rival will be constantly competing to get the limited number of Power Stones. So not only do you have to watch your back for attacks and fight, but you have to take away stones that the other fighter has in order to prevent a special attack.

Graphics look good and offer plenty of eye candy for each fight. You,ll be transported to icy remote regions, dry deserts, outdoor cafes, the interior of ships, and the exterior of yellow submarines, just to name a few. The colors pop out at you, and the fighting action is smooth without a hint of jumpiness. The weapons, as mentioned before, are usually overstated and huge, making a nice contrast between the fighting and humor. The character transformations also look good, and bring some nice variety to the characters’ looks.

When playing the three-on-one mode in PS2, sometimes the characters on-screen become so small that it is hard to tell which one is you. When the camera pulls in to the normal view, things can get a little confusing as to who has power stones and who doesn,t due to the close quarters. This isn,t really a fault of the game itself as much as it is a result of scaling down all the graphics from a full screen television set to a 4.3" PSP screen, and unfortunately it makes the three-on-one mode extremely frustrating to play.

Gamers should also be aware of the loading times. When starting off either PS1 or PS2 you,ll be staring at some pretty lengthy load screens. One particular sequence had me laughing — not because it was particularly funny, but because of the method used in trying to disguise the fact that it takes a long time to load the game. While firing up either title, you,ll see the traditional black screen with the game logo in the lower right hand corner; this screen took about 20 seconds to load. Then, a second screen showed up with an animation of a bi-plane crossing the screen. The animated progress bar slowly filled, and this took an additional 16 seconds. "Ah, I,m finally are coming to the main screen," I thought. But no, a third loading screen appeared, and after I grew a good amount of stubble on my face, I was finally at the main screen. Maybe long loading times aren’t as big of a deal for some, but the long load screens definitely take a few notches off of the enjoyment of the game.

As far as sound is concerned, the Power Stone games have some really good soundtracks. The battle music is intense and driving, and doesn’t show the games’ age a bit. You,ll also wish you could understand Japanese after playing this game, because the characters all utter one or two liners during gameplay in Japanese. Although I couldn,t understand what they were saying, you can tell a lot of sarcasm and wit was used in the dialogue from the tones. There is (of course) the familiar disembodied voice that tells you when the fight starts, and sound effects for the game are loaded with crashes, explosions, and gun fire. Sound was something that was definitely not skimped on in this title.

Replay value is good as well, because of the entertaining and unique gameplay. Even after the game has been beaten, you,ll still be able to buy new items at the store to embellish your next foray into the Power Stone universe.

Power Stone Collection offers some amazingly fun fighting action linked with the power-up feature of collecting power stones, using weapons on your opponents, and the ability to navigate all around the game screen in 3D. The graphics are nice, and the various game modes will offer a good beat ’em up experience for fighting game fans. It will also please those who want a fighter that is entertaining, but not too hard to learn. Considering that these games were produced at least seven years ago, it is quite surprising that they’re still just as fun after all these years. When you couple the sheer entertainment value of the Power Stone games with the fact that this title offers two games for the price of one, that should be reason enough to warrant a purchase from any gamers looking for a great PSP fighter.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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