Title  : Last Bronx
Platforms  : Sega Saturn
Publisher  : Sega
Game Rating  : 6.9
Review by  : Ken Gagne

With the success of Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers, Sega has now branched out into the weapon-combat arena. Unfortunately, Last Bronx is not the hit they were expecting. 

A Saturn translation of the arcade game, Last Bronx can be compared to Soul Edge, Namco's PlayStation fighter. Players select one of eight fighters — a small number by today's standards — each equipped with a weapon, from sais to bos and nunchukus to staves. They then battle it out in a 3D fighting arena, square in shape. Several gaming modes are available, including four two-player modes and two practice modes. Later on, hidden weapons, such as popsicles, frozen tuna, and corn-on-the-cob become available. 

There are no magic moves or special attacks, like fireballs or teleportation. The three main buttons — punch, kick, and guard — are used in a variety of combinations to execute differing types of attacks. A heavy emphasis is placed on stringing multiple moves together to inflict heavy damage. The special moves listed in the manual are really no more than series of punches and kicks. The fences which border each stage can be used as heights to escape to, and from which to launch an attack. 

The graphics cannot be universally described as either great or poor. The characters themselves are lively, moving with many frames of animation and with attention paid in the closeups to details, such as eyes and mouth. The backgrounds, all based on real Japanese locations, are extremely smooth. However, the foreground, being the most important as all the action occurs there, suffers from an unusual case of flicker. The sprites and arena borders seem to fade in and out during some scenes, a real distraction. 

The music is enjoyable, fitting the action-packed situations, with a number of different instrumentations sometimes noticeable. The announcer's speech has a slight Oriental accent, while the characters speak all in Japanese. Even the opening and closing anime sequences are in Japanese, with English subtitles. Maybe some purists find this preferable, but Sega should've finished the translation job for the average gamer. 

Challenge is high, as a single blow can deplete up to a quarter of a fighter's strength. Without the assortment of attacks common in other fighters, close-range melee is common, which is not conducive of a long, healthy life. Several kinds of damaging throw-type attacks are usable, but difficult to use in the confined spaces in which they are effective. 

Last Bronx is a poor title among a plethora of fighting games. It is one of only a few weapon-based fighters, but is not the best even in that small crowd. Multiple gaming modes but poor player selection balance the replay value. Despite some great presentation, poor implementation produces a fatal flaw, with the fun factor paying the penalty. Glitchy graphics and a boring combat system make Last Bronx anything but a first choice.


This article is copyright (c) 1997, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 17-Nov-97