It's a fighter that moves fast, controls tightly, and features an added level of strategy due to the nature of the beast transformations, the benefits and drawbacks to changing, and power management therein. The end result is very satisfying, from the challenging single-player mode -- a little too difficult at points, to the addictive multiplayer one. But there is a certain depth, from the familiar look of several of the levels to the comparably smaller list of moves and combos present versus other triple-A fighters that keeps Primal Fury from greatness.
Battle with more than 14 characters -- two exclusive to GCNPlayers can morph into "beast form" with a varied set of movesBrawl in 12 gameplay modes in nine immersive 3D environmentsThrow foes through destructible walls or crash through floors and continue fightingGameCube title features noticeable improvements in polygon model detail, texturing and lightingRuns at 60 frames per secondEnjoy multiplayer battles with friends
There are regular humans and there are Zoanthropes, humans who can change into hulking beasts based on animals. The humans and the Zoanthropes have lived together peacefully for years, but there are rumors that some men have begun to kidnap and experiment on the Zoanthropes in order to discover the source of their power. So in an effort to bring the kingdom together, the Zoanthropes have sponsored a fighting contest. Humans possessing the unique transformation abilities have come from all over to participate in the bouts, to windows the honored title of "Zoanthrope Champion," and to earn a cash prize. But not all is as it seems and thus, the set up for Primal Fury. It's not a terribly compelling affair, but then again storylines for 3D fighters never are.
The Bloody Roar franchise is no stranger to fighting fans and Primal Fury is easily the best addition to the series yet. Eighting has done an overall fine job of updating Bloody Roar 3 for GameCube owners. There are several modes of play, some exclusive to the update, including everything from the standard Arcade Mode to Time Attack, Survival, Versus and more. There's a training mode that shows button layouts and helps teach players how to execute special moves and master combos. The title even boasts an option -- once unlocked -- to view the storyline cut-scenes via a movie player. It's very extensive, which comes as a plus for a genre that is typically overrun by shallow offerings.
Primal Fury is a traditional 3D fighter. Players pick a brawler and take him or her through a circuit squaring off with foes. The control mechanics, tight, responsive and well defined, borrow elements from just about every major fighter out there. There are general kicks and punches available, and one can execute a throw move with the Y button, but most of the special moves and combos seem directly influenced from other genre offerings such as Fighting Vipers and Street Fighter. Up, down, A button will send Bakuryu into his lightning kick, while double-forward-tap and X will make the character dive in beast form with claws outstretched. It's not exactly an original or groundbreaking control setup, but hey -- it works, so why change it? There are several different special moves that can be executed per character, along with a host of combos that must first be learned and then, eventually, mastered -- easier said than done, we'll tell you. Some of the combos are downright difficult, which can be viewed as a good or bad thing depending on one's particular skill. It's disappointing, though, that there aren't even more to play with per character -- games such as Tekken and Soul Calibur are far deeper in this respect.
The Bloody Roar franchise has another major element going for it on top of standard fighting, though -- beast transformations. Each of the 14 characters in the GameCube title can morph into beast versions of their former selves. The beasts are based on real animals, and are different for each character. For example, Yugo can change into a hulking beast wolf while Ganesha an elephant, Gado a lion, Jenny a bat, Long a tiger, so on and so forth. These transformations play hugely into the strategy of each fight for a couple of different reasons. First, when players transform into beast form, their characters become more powerful and are able to inflict more damage upon foes. And second, when a beast, gamers can execute their 'hyper beast' move, their character's most powerful combination. But there are drawbacks to changing. The transformation requires energy, which is measured via a bar on-screen; when it's already low, changing could prove worthless as it would zap what's left even further leaving players open to attack. And so a careful dance of knowing when to change and when to stay put ensues, and thus deepens the fighting experience. It's challenging to be sure, intuitively set up and a lot of fun.
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