Thursday, March 10, 2011

Yu Yu Hakusho Final: Makai Saikyo Retsuden

 幽☆遊☆白書 Final: 魔界最強列伝

Yuu Yuu Hakusho Final: Demon World's Strongest Legends

Platform:Super Famicom

Genre: 2D Fighter

Released: March 24, 1995

Developed by: Namco

 Published by: Namco

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Basic Overview

(some details to see if you'd have any interest in playing this game)

 

Who should play: -fans of old school 2D sprite fighters

-obviously, Yu Yu Hakusho fans, or anime fans in general

-players looking for a great 16-bit fighter that that's new to them


Strong points: -surprisingly deep mechanics, allowing for combo strings, desperation attacks, and other now-common 2D fighter elements

-rather large character selection, 14 characters

-very nice 2D animation

-a large amount of modes for fighters of this era (6 different modes), allowing for some gameplay longevity, even without a second player


Weak points: -nothing to offer to players that aren't either Yu Yu Hakusho fans or fighting game enthusiasts

-even with 4 unique modes to help the single player gameplay prosper, it will still become boring somewhat quickly without another player

-some occasional slowdown


Neutral points: -when playing on more challenging modes, the enemy AI is surprisingly good, and might feel cheap

 

How text heavy?: Not at all, you should have no problem navigating menus. The only text-heavy segments are within the game's story mode, and if you've watched the Yu Yu Hakusho anime, you'll know exactly what's going on anyway. No Japanese is required to enjoy this game to it's fullest, really.

Other versions: None.

Similar games: Other 16-bit anime fighters, namely the DBZ ones.

 

Suggested videos:

advanced character combos

some cool gameplay video backed by a remix of the original OP theme of the anime

obligated to post this

 

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 What is it? 

(Yu Yu who?)


Yu Yu Hakusho was a manga series that ran in Japan in the early 90s, written by Yoshihiro Togashi (also the writer of Hunter x Hunter). It spawned a very popular anime that ran 112 episodes and 2 OVAs. One of the OVAs would become the first stateside exposure Yu Yu Hakusho would enjoy, but it wasn't until 2002 that Cartoon Network's Adult Swim would fully expose the US to the franchise. The story revolves around Yusuke Urameshi, who is a delinquent High School student that sacrifices his life while uncharacteristically trying to save a child from getting hit by a car. The Spirit World senses some potential in Yusuke, and it's rulers decide to give him another chance at life by making him a Spirit Detective that must apprehend various demon outlaws.

 

mukuro dealing some punishment
majin yusuke's reigan

 

Naturally, the popularity of the franchise created multiple video games in Japan. There are actually over 20 Yu Yu Hakusho video games, and I intend to cover more in the future. The game I'm covering here is a highly competent 2D sprite fighter that you should not allow to go unnoticed for another moment, provided that you're a fan of this sort of game. This game covers the final 2 story arcs of the series, the Sensui arc and the Makai Tournament arc. This is an above average 2D fighter in every way, the controls are superb, the mechanics are very realized and fine tuned, there are over a dozen playable characters, and the animations look wonderful.

 

laying the smackdown

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Review

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GAMEPLAY

 

the animations look very satisfying



This is pretty much as good as 16-bit 2D fighters get. There's a certain charm that old school sprite fighters have. Each character having just their basic set of normals, and 3-5 special moves, makes things so incredibly fun in it's inherent simplicity. The fun that this kind of game can provide with a good hour of local versus with a buddy can't be found anywhere else. Even alone, this game offers fighting game fans something special: a great, obscure 2D fighter of Hyper Dimension quality.

 


The controls are fairly standard, it's a 4 button fighter. A and B act as heavy and light kick, respectively. X and Y act as heavy and light punch, respectively. Each character has 3 special moves, with inputs being your standard fair; quarter circle, half circle, or charge inputs. All special moves require energy to use, which is one of the features of this game that make it unique. You are able to replenish your energy bar by holding any attack button and entering a power up animation. Your energy then recovers pretty quickly, but you're entirely left open to attack. Every character also has one or two "auto-combo" actions, which will have them gatling out a string of their normals with only one input, much faster than you'd be able to do it normally. 

1) HP bar    2) Energy/KI bar   3)Stun meter



All characters also have desperation attacks, which are just awesome. With a full energy bar and 1/4 of your HP remaining, you gain access to a super move that depletes all of your energy, but is extremely damaging. This adds a lot of fun to the game, and even more fun to playing with a friend. It makes for some tense and humorous moments when the fight gets down to the last hits. Should you risk charging your energy bar to try and get your desperation attack off, leaving you open to attack, or should you play it safe and go on the defensive? Some characters have multiple iterations in the game, for example, both Yusuke and Majin Yusuke are playable in the game. While playing as Yusuke, you have the option to transform into Majin Yusuke. This also applies to other characters that are represented with multiple forms, and some characters even have unique transformations all together. When you transform, your energy bar is slowly depleted until it reaches zero, and then you revert back to your original form.
 
one of the cooler desperation attacks, hiei's kokuryuha


There are also a few other mechanics of note. There are grabs of course, which send your opponent flying and open up a window for comboing. If you press an attack button with the right timing after being grabbed, you are able to recover from this however, so you're not just a sitting duck after being grabbed. Most characters are able to dash towards and away your enemy, and dashing directly next to them will have to dash past them and appear on the other side of them. If you and your opponent dash into each other, you trigger a special event that has you start pummeling on each other a la Fist of the North Star, and have to start mashing buttons. Whoever wins gets thrown back a bit and takes some damage. There is a stun meter at play too, if you take too much damage without blocking or interrupting the other player, you get put into a dizzy state. The dizzy state lasts for quite some time, so if you get put into it you're as good as dead. Each character has instant stun moves as well.

this'll happen if both players collide while dashing
sensui's sacred energy


OVERALL PRESENTATION

 

The character animations look very nice, but the sprites aren't as detailed as some of the other games of this era. The menus aren't clustered and are easy to navigate, as they should be, being that this is just a tournament fighter. In general, a good amount of attention was paid towards making everything look nice. Nothing is ugly or lazy looking, but the actual gameplay is where the game shines the most. The sound effects are decent, and the voice samples are recognizable and will properly remind you of the anime.

 

you can access your move list in-game, a welcomed feature

 

There are 6 different stages, all based off scenes from the 2 final story arcs of the anime. The backgrounds aren't mindblowing, but the levels are fitting, and some have some cool looking animations going on. The levels with lightning storms going on are particularly cool. Some more stages would have been nice, and each character having their own stage would have been great, but this is a minor gripe. The playable character selection itself however, is great. You can play as 14 characters from the series: Yusuke, Kuwabara, Kurama, Hiei, Sensui, Shigure, Shura, Majin Yusuke, Youko Kurama, Armored Sensui, Raizen, Youmi, Mukuro, and Yakumo (from the OVA). Yakumo is a secret character, but unlocking him is as simple as inputting a code. To use him, while on the title screen, press Y seven times, X six times, and A five times. A voice sample will play if done correctly.


The game is somewhat balanced even, you should be able to put up a fight regardless of who you chose. You'll find that Hiei, Youko Kurama, and Armored Sensui are quite noticeably more powerful than the rest of the cast if you play enough though. Characters that have two iterations of themselves (Yusuke, Kurama, Sensui) play differently too, they are not just cloned characters. Their movesets are different enough to warrant them being included, especially in the case of Youko. Yusuke and Majin Yusuke admittedly feel a bit similiar, but still, it's more of a Ryu to Akuma parallel than a Ryu to Ken one.

 

characters aplenty, each playing fairly unique

 

There are a surprising six modes of gameplay to try out. Modes include: Story Mode, Makai Tournament Mode, Standard Arcade Mode, 2 Player, Team Mode, and a Training Mode. I'll detail each of them below.

you come for revenge, eh?

 

Story Mode: Only Yusuke, Hiei, Kuwabara, and Kurama are available in this mode. You may be fairly surprised to hear this mode isn't just a completely tacked on string of battles. I mean, essentially it is, but it's fun, follows the anime's storyline, and even features some narration with still images. All 4 character's story modes start with the Sensui arc, pitting them against Sensui, then Armored Sensui. After that, the story modes differ as the game puts you into the Makai Tournament arc, and as you follow your character's story different fights and events will take place, corresponding to the source material.


Makai Tournament Mode: This mode puts you in a bracket with all the characters in the game, and has you fight it out tournament style. Standard mode, but a bit more interesting than your standard arcade mode, which is also featured.


Arcade/VS CPU Mode: You fight a gauntlet of all the characters in a random order.


2 Player VS Mode: Self-explanatory.


Team Mode: A pretty fun mode here, can be played with either 1 or 2 players. You pick a team of 4 characters and try to beat other teams. You are able to pick which teams you wish to fight against in what order. It doesn't work like a tag match, the winner of the match stays and keeps the same HP, the loser loses that member and the next in line comes out to fight.


the beat down never ends in training mode

Training Mode: Self-explanatory, but there are some noteworthy features. It can be done with 2 players, and there are training modes A and B. Training Mode A makes it so each character's health is depleted, whereas Training Mode B gives both characters infinite health. Your energy bar is always full, and desperation attacks are available at any time in Training Mode B. It's actually a pretty good training mode for games of this time.


All things considered, the presentation is very good all around.


MUSIC



It's pretty good stuff, above average even, but it's nothing too great. Each character has their own theme, which is very cool, but some of the songs just come off as average. There are a few select songs that are very good though, such as Armored Sensui's theme, which was the most memorable track for me. There's an in-game music player in the options menu, too. The tracks can't really hold a candle to other fighting game OSTs of the time (namely, Street Fighter), but the music never sounds ugly or boring, which is a problem you can run into sometimes with lazily composed soundtracks. Overall, it's best OST out of the 4 Yu Yu Hakusho Super Famicom games, and will provide you with some suitable tunes.



IN CLOSING

 

 I feel this game is even better than Treasure's Yu Yu Hakusho: Makyo Toitsusen for the MegaDrive, and that's a pretty bold statement. This is the more traditional fighter, and it's better because of it. The programmers really nailed every aspect of what makes a great 2D sprite fighter; solid moves, enjoyable and fluid gameplay, a good cast of characters, and giving the player a multitude of options to play with. If you are or were a fan of the Yu Yu Hakusho series, you're pretty much obligated to give this game a go. If you played the shoddy piece of programming that was The Dark Tournament for the PS2 that we got here the in US, you owe it to yourself to play one of the good Yu Yu Hakusho games (there are also some good PS2 ones I'll detail later).

 

raizen facing off against shigure


Playing this gem with a buddy is truly great fun, I've personally played dozens of matches with this game against my friends. It really holds up in terms of gameplay, and if you're a retro gamer to begin with then you're going to have a really good time with this one. The inclusion of desperation attacks, energy bars, and combos set this game apart from it's peers. For big time fighter enthusiasts, you'll be able to spend a couple of afternoons trying to best the very tough AI, coming up with the most practical combos for your favorite character, and just plain old enjoying some timeless 2D brawling. Seek out the cart or give the rom a download, you won't be disappointed.


 Additional screen caps:

battles from the anime are re-created

damn you and your tricks sensui
the game's interesting team mode
you're able to charge your energy bar at any time
victory, this is the screen you want to see
the game's bracket-style tournament mode
yakumo, a secret character included from the poltergeist report OVA
youmi, arguably the strongest demon in the yu yu hakusho universe
the movesets are lifted right from the show
characters have palette swap costumes
the game opens with some still images of the characters

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