|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
The Sega Dreamcast launched with nineteen titles — more games than any video game system has ever launched with. With several fighters, sports, and racers, some would say the variety was lacking, but with companies like Capcom putting out games like Power Stone, such complaints are soon alleviated.
Power Stone is a 3D fighting game, advertised as "the first go anywhere, grab anything fighting game" — which sums up the general idea. The game's focus is on the environments, not the characters. The square arenas are large enough for dodging attacks yet small enough to keep the action consistent and heated. Few levels have built-in pitfalls, leaving players to worry about their opponents instead.
Scattered throughout the arenas is an assortment of tools and items. Boxes, chairs, tables, and pots can be kicked, shoved, picked up, thrown, and jumped or rolled over. Chests reveal items, from bombs to lead pipes to bazookas. It is extremely satisfying to turn a machine gun on the guy who just punched your nose in.
Fans of deep fighters with myriad moves and infinite combos, look elsewhere: Power Stone is a fast and easy game to pick up and get hooked on. Every character can jump, grab, punch, and kick, with no special moves or combinations (a la Street Fighter). When the three power stones are collected, fighters transform into super-beings capable of two or three unique, high-damage Fusion Moves. Otherwise the characters are disposable.
The race for power stones adds an intensity factor to the game. The gems are usually loose on the arena floor or in possession by one of the players, but they're only useful in sets of three. A good strategy is to strike quickly, inflicting little damage but releasing a stone from the opponent's custody. The transformation the stones effect seriously tips the scales in one's favor, but they don't make a fighter invincible.
The graphics are colorful and fluid. The game moves at a good clip, with items, stones, and characters being tossed about. The camera rotates and scales, following the action without changing the stage's general orientation. Some fancy camera work makes the Fusion Moves especially painful to watch.
Generic fighting music floats through the background. The stages and characters are of indeterminate nationality, giving no traits for the soundtrack to utilize. Fortunately, the heart of the game's audio component are the sound effects, with crashes, explosions, and voices screaming and grunting.
Not only is there a lot to like in Power Stone, there are many reasons to continue liking it. Add to the simple control an adjustable difficulty setting, and anyone can get into this game. There are fifteen secrets to unlock by beating the game with different goals. These rewards range from new battle items to mini-games to download to your VMU memory card.
Capcom, the company who defined the fighting genre, has produced a unique title with Power Stone. The environment aspect of fighting has long been overlooked, or poorly presented. Power Stone sacrifices character depth and fighting complexity for fast and fun gameplay — a fair trade.
This article is copyright (c) 1999, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 20-Sep-99