Shiritsu Justice Gakuen: Nekketsu Seisyun Nikki 2 — 2Q2015 issue

Rival Schools 1.5 is still fun

We here at GI are strong pro­po­nents of any­thing Japan­ese, fight­ing games and edu­ca­tion. So, you can imag­ine the delight that is a gen­er­ous mix of all three. To that end, it should be obvi­ous by now that we love Rival Schools and its over­all series Project Jus­tice. Despite the fact that it comes from the brain trust known as Cap­com, we’re still entranced by the con­cept of Japan­ese high school stu­dents fight­ing to save themselves.

The mid­dle game in the series, Rival Schools 2, is an inter­est­ing addi­tion to the fam­ily of fight­ing games. It’s nei­ther a true sequel nor a spin-off of the orig­i­nal game. It’s an adden­dum, which Cap­com is noto­ri­ous for push­ing on the gen­eral buy­ing pub­lic. It’s more of the orig­i­nal game — which we love — with some upgrades thrown in to make it worth import­ing. This ver­sion was never released in Amer­ica, thus there are modes that you will never see. That makes import­ing the game worth the time and trouble.

RS2 is your stan­dard fight­ing game, which doesn’t make it unique. How­ever, the inclu­sion of the board game mode and the char­ac­ter cre­ation mode that plays out like an eroge sim­u­la­tion are some of the good­ies that we’re miss­ing out on in the U.S. There’s also the addi­tion of three new char­ac­ters: Ran, a pho­to­jour­nal­ist who uses her cam­era to attack; Nagare, a swim­mer; and, Chairperson/Iinciyo, who leads the charge for Taiyo High School stu­dents to defend them­selves. Other than these gifts, there’s not much dif­fer­ent here than the first game. You’re still fight­ing to defend your cho­sen school, and there’s still fun to be had in a slightly deep fight­ing game sys­tem. There’s not too much dif­fer­ent aesthetics-wise, in that there are a few new stages and new stage themes. The older stages are still here and it’s fun to play against the new­com­ers with older char­ac­ters or a cre­ated character.

I have two caveats with rec­om­mend­ing the game to oth­ers. The first is the fact that it’s in Japan­ese mostly and read­ing is a must to get through the char­ac­ter cre­ation and board game modes. That’s a bit much if you’re not into the lan­guage or know enough to nav­i­gate through menus. The other issue is the fact that, as usual, Cap­com has seen fit to deny Amer­i­can gamers the best of a series, short­chang­ing loyal money-spending fans who would pay a high price for the good­ies of the char­ac­ter cre­ation mode and the board game mode. The dirty truth of it all is Cap­com has never thought highly of its Amer­i­can audi­ence. We’re not going to see some­thing awe­some like either mode because “we just wouldn’t get it any­way.” A fun fact is that both modes were to be included in the first game but were left out in Amer­ica because it would have been too much trou­ble to include them for Amer­i­cans, accord­ing to Cap­com of Japan. But we’re smart enough to make cash grabs off of for mul­ti­ple ver­sion of Street Fighter, though, right?

The moral of this story is that Rival Schools and its fur­ther sequels all deserve to be played by a wider audi­ence. Although it’s a slight rehash of the first game, RS2 was deserv­ing of respect and a proper intro­duc­tion to the Amer­i­can audi­ence. Thank­fully, we were allowed to see the next sequel, Project Jus­tice. Here’s hop­ing for a class reunion.

Samurai Shodown Anthology — 2Q2015 issue

A com­plete clas­sic collection

The fight­ing game indus­try has always thrived on the very con­cept that makes a title in the genre: com­pe­ti­tion. There have been fabled rivals through­out the entire lifes­pan of the genre, with quite a few pre­tenders to throne. How­ever, SNK Play­more was one of the orig­i­na­tors and the pack­age of games within Samu­rai Shodown Anthol­ogy shows they weren’t play­ing around in the ‘90s in the slightest.

It’s pretty safe to say that Samu­rai Shodown was never a pre­tender. It’s got all the mark­ings of a mar­quee series, some­thing that could carry a com­pany far in the worst of times and keep eyes on the prod­uct. At its core, it’s a game about samu­rai and other war­riors fight­ing to the death. What sets it apart from the com­pe­ti­tion — even from within its own sta­ble with brethren King of Fight­ers — is its pro­duc­tion val­ues. The games have always been gor­geous and there’s a level of detail that hasn’t been seen in other series except for the likes of Tekken. Within the col­lec­tion of that is Anthol­ogy, all of the nat­u­rally gor­geous art­work and level of detail is on dis­play. It’s impor­tant that this be empha­sized because that’s what Samu­rai Shodown is about at the end of the day: Samu­rai fight­ing to the death while look­ing fantastic.

The level of detail extends to the sound­track as well. In all games in the pack­age, the sound­track is an excel­lent con­certo of Japan­ese bam­boo flute and shamisen. This may not float your boat, but for a pack­age that focuses on samu­rai, this is an excel­lent choice to make up the back­ing soundtrack.

Samu­rai Shodown Anthol­ogy is per­fect col­lec­tion of fight­ing games, mostly because it’s good to have the entire set of games on one disc with­out hav­ing to own infe­rior ver­sions of noto­ri­ously arcade-perfect games. These are exactly what you fell in love with in the arcade and they’re all in one place, lov­ingly included at the orig­i­nal def­i­n­i­tion. If you’ve never expe­ri­enced the hype that was Samu­rai Shodown, now’s an excel­lent chance to do so. Pre­pared to be wowed.

2UP EVALUATION

Finally, a clas­sic game that started the weapon-based fight­ing genre is back on the PlaySta­tion 2. For decades, SNK Play­more con­tin­ued this series with not one but six titles, empha­siz­ing Japan’s adap­tion of duels. Uti­liz­ing var­i­ous char­ac­ters and locales, Samu­rai Shodown gives gamers a break from the Tekken/Street Fighter clones on the mar­ket, and shows a brief slice of life in medieval Japan dur­ing which samu­rai fought under the code of Bushido.

I was allowed for a brief moment to not only act out a samu­rai fan­tasy, but also to release any anger in a healthy way. While the mechan­ics take some prac­tice to become famil­iar with, the music, char­ac­ters and graph­ics are top-notch and the story is sim­ple. My only com­plaint is that there’s one cheap-shot char­ac­ter that loves to pounce. For all of the Soul­Cal­ibur clones flood­ing the mar­ket these days, I proudly say Samu­rai Shodown Anthol­ogy has great replay value, and it DEMANDS a space in any gamer’s library. I’m glad that SNK Play­more had the wis­dom to keep this series alive from the begin­ning, instead of a com­pany that relies on milk­ing their cash cow to the bone. Well done, SNK Play­more. Well done.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom — 2Q2015 issue

Tat­sunoko takes on Cap­com in Wii brawl

Every­one who reads GI knows that I’m an otaku. I’m also a big fan of clas­sic anime that has set the stan­dard for today’s anime. Most of the awesome-level anime old and new has came from Japan’s world-renown Tat­sunoko Pro­duc­tions. So, when I heard that Cap­com was reviv­ing its “Ver­sus” series, I thought that Cap­com was run­ning out of gam­ing ideas. That was until it was announced that Tat­sunoko would play a major role. I thought it was a joke, but I was in shock when the rumors were true and thus the ques­tion came about: What would hap­pen if Capcom’s heroes met Tatsunoko’s heroes in a gam­ing for­est? Tat­sunoko vs. Cap­com: Ulti­mate All-Stars for the Wii answered that ques­tion for me.

Devel­oped by Eight­ing and pub­lished by Cap­com, Tat­sunoko vs. Cap­com is a 3D game that places var­i­ous char­ac­ters from both com­pa­nies’ top-selling series into a exclu­sive fight­ing game treat. Inspired by the Mar­vel vs. Cap­com series, TvC allows duos from either Capcom’s or Tatsunoko’s ros­ters to fight against other char­ac­ters with the win­ning team going on to face Yami from Capcom’s adven­ture title Okami. If you like to mix a Cap­com char­ac­ter with a Tat­sunoko char­ac­ter, that’s also pos­si­ble as a way to give the game­play more vari­ety. In addi­tion to the orig­i­nal arcade mode, there are sur­vival and time attack modes that allow you to test your skills via lim­ited health regen­er­a­tion and defeat­ing your oppo­nents in the short­est time pos­si­ble. An addi­tional fea­ture includes a mini-game shooter called “Ulti­mate All-Shooters.”

Con­trol is han­dled with three but­tons, which greatly sim­pli­fies the learn­ing curve. It’s sim­pli­fied even more thanks to the Wii’s Clas­sic con­troller, Game­Cube con­troller, third-party arcade sticks and the reg­u­lar Wii remote. You will love the char­ac­ter ros­ter con­sist­ing of each com­pa­nies’ top fran­chises such as Street Fighter, Rival Schools, Viewti­ful Joe, Lost Planet, Darkstalkers/Vampire and Mega Man for Cap­com while Tat­sunoko is rep­re­sented by Karas, Tekka­man, G-Force and Yat­ter­man. There are other char­ac­ters that can be unlocked via use of money (Zenny) earned in each game, which also will allow pur­chase of alter­nate end­ings, cos­tume changes and other unlock­able surprises.

The music is top-notch in each stage, but the intro and end­ings songs are fun to sing and dance to. In par­tic­u­lar, the Gesellschaft (Clear Skies) and the Daigo Tem­ple (Cherry Blos­som) stages are favorites.

Tat­sunoko vs. Cap­com: Ulti­mate All-Stars is an answered prayer for fans of fight­ing games and anime. As a first-time con­nois­seur of this type of crossover, TvC is delight­ful game expe­ri­ence. As an otaku gamer, Cap­com can work on my damn nerves at times with their no-thought deci­sions, but in this case, they worked with a renown anime com­pany to bring a qual­ity prod­uct to a sys­tem that was in SORE need of well-rounded games. Now only if Cap­com can make amends with Keiji Ina­fune. They might be respected once more.

2UP EVALUATION

All of the raz­zle daz­zle hype aside, Tat­sunoko vs. Cap­com is some­thing I want to play. I’m already a fan of most Cap­com fight­ing prop­er­ties, and I love the Ver­sus series, so I’m going to play what­ever they come up with next to join forces with and cre­ate magic. In this case, it’s anime related as well, so there’s a win­ning com­bi­na­tion all the way around.

I didn’t know much about Tat­sunoko before play­ing the game, but after spend­ing a lit­tle time immersed in the super sen­tai world, I learned that it’s some­thing that’s com­pelling to return to time and time again. Nice mechan­ics, an inter­est­ing ros­ter and gor­geous atten­tion to detail with the envi­ron­ments and sound­track make it a nice pack­age. My only gripes are that the story doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense (really, Yami from Okami, Cap­com? That’s it?), and that not know­ing that much about Tat­sunoko actu­ally works against me. Other than that, there’s isn’t a rea­son why I wouldn’t play this con­stantly, even if it is a Wii exclu­sive. That’s just another rea­son to go out and buy the now-defunct console.

TvC trivia

* The orig­i­nal title for TvC was Tat­sunoko vs. Cap­com: Cross Gen­er­a­tion of Heroes.

* While the game devel­op­ers had the OK to add any char­ac­ter from Tat­sunoko or Cap­com, Tat­sunoko did deny some choices because of licens­ing issues; orig­i­nally, Phoenix Wright was sug­gested, but was pulled because of dif­fi­cul­ties with find­ing proper attacks for him.

* Most video game review­ers such as G4’s Adam Sessler and IGN’s John Tanaka were doubt­ful about an outside-of-Japan release because of Tatsunoko’s final approved ros­ter of char­ac­ters. They were licensed in other coun­tries, despite being owned by Tat­sunoko, and the level of recog­ni­tion of some char­ac­ters was a concern.

* As of 2012, Cap­com USA senior vice pres­i­dent Chris­t­ian Svens­son has stated that Cap­com could no longer sell the game in phys­i­cal or dig­i­tal form because licens­ing rights with Tat­sunoko expired.