Title :The Bouncer
Platforms :Sony PlayStation 2
Publisher :Square Electronic Arts L.L.C.
ESRB Rating :Teen
Game Rating :5.5
Review by :Larry Tipton

Something terrible has happened at a quaint little bar called Fate. Ninja soldiers from the evil Mikado Group have kidnapped a young girl named Dominique. It is up to three unlikely heroes to come to her rescue and right the wrong. So begins a shallow story to an even weaker game. 

The Bouncer is game that is full of promise and marketing hype. It was to include movie-like graphics while offering complete player control. The environment was to be incredibly rich with detail and include interactive features never before seen in a video game. The Bouncer was to be the first true next generation gaming experience. 

It has failed on all accounts. 

It seems that the folks at Square borrowed heavily from one of their old PSOne games — namely, Tobal — and tried to turn that style of fighting into a beat-em-up fighter like Final Fight. It could have worked, except the game play is neither fast nor fluid enough to stay interesting. 

There are three stereotypical male characters from which to choose: Volt, Sion, and Kou. I find it odd that there are no female characters, but there are none in the story mode. It is even stranger when you start to do battle against women characters. 

The Bouncer is set up in stages. You will do battle with guards, dogs, ninja, sub bosses and, of course, a final end game boss character. It seems that Square made no attempt at trying to do something a little different, relying instead on a "cookie cutter"-style fighting game featuring incredible graphics. 

The game's story mode is linear. There are no branches to the story. Fail, and the game is over but you can pick up where you left off by loading your previously saved game. As you play through the story mode you will be awarded points for successfully executing a fighting maneuver. You use these points to further strengthen your fighter. This sounds like a nice feature but it tends to break up the game's action too much. It really gets old quickly as you watch a video segment, a loading screen, play for about two to three minutes and then decide how to use the earned points. I guess it helps that you can choose to switch characters between fights. Other game modes include survival and multiplayer fighting brawl. This might be fun with four human players. 

Controlling each bouncer is simple enough. Each has high, medium and low attacks. There is a block button and a special move button. The input response from each button press is not as responsive as it should be. It is not terrible but it could have been better. 

The music is pretty good overall with a rock guitar motif throughout for the most part. The in game sound effects are pretty typical for a beat-em-up. The voice acting is not bad considering that the story is pretty weak overall. 

The Bouncer's graphics are without peer. They are the best to appear on the PlayStation 2 to date. The onscreen characters are highly detailed, as are their countless adversaries. The backgrounds are richly detailed. The use of dramatic lighting is unmatched. The Bouncer is packed with beautiful cut scenes. In fact, you'll no doubt spend more time viewing the cut scenes than playing the game. But these things cannot save The Bouncer from being a mediocre game. 

It is quite surprising that a game of this size requiring the storage space of a DVD is only about three hours in length. Some will get added enjoyment with the other game modes available but most will no doubt be disappointed. I know I am. 

This article is copyright (c) 2001, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 02-Apr-01