SYSTEM
PSX

PRICE
$49.99

DEVELOPER
Yukes

PUBLISHER
Titus

RELEASE
06/99

Evil Zone Review

By: John Doe


Over the top is the best way to describe this colorful and exciting fighter from Titus. Filled to the brim with anime fueled mayhem, Evil Zone drew me in and kept me entertained all the way through. No kidding. Fans of anime and fighting games like Battle Arena Toshinden, will want to check this out.


Highs:
Lows:

Let's get this out of the way first. I am not into Anime. I'm not dissing (is the word "dissing" still in use, or have I just embarrassed myself by once again trying to be hip?)its North American popularity I'm just saying it usually doesn't do anything for me. As far as I'm concerned the only reason it's popular is because all you teenage boys out there can watch the odd naked chick running around and mom and dad think that since it's a cartoon, it's about as harmless as Yogi Bear. Oh sure the hate mail will pour in now and you'll piss and moan that you like it for the mature story and the art, but I guarantee you take out the t & a and you kids would finally notice that everyone's eyes are too damn big and no one's mouth moves at the exact time when they are talking. Okay now where did I leave that review lying aroun-oh here it is.

Evil Zone as you may have guessed is heavily anime influenced and I for one really dug it, which speaks volumes for the production and direction in this game. From the great intro to the flashy moves to the skinny bodies to the campy dialogue to the big eyes, Evil Zone captures that style to a tee. I can't put my finger on it but there is something quite charming about not really knowing what the hell is going on sometimes. Each character has their own reasons for wanting to destroy the evil Ihadurca, but you'll be hard pressed to really understand why due to the over abundance of minute details. But that isn't a bad thing. It's just quirky and quirky is cool.

Although I wished there were more fighters to choose from (nine is pretty weak in this day and age) each has their own totally unique fighting style and look. If you play through the thoroughly engaging Story Mode (this is a must!) you'll discover why each of them have come to fight Ihadurca. The Story Mode is run like a weekly tv show and is so off the wall at times that I could not and would not walk away until I had beaten Ihadurca. For example during Alty Al Lazel's (You can call him Al) Story Mode the narrator starts mumbling to himself. That was worth the price of admission alone. This game doesn't take itself very seriously (whether it did in the Japanese version I don't know) but someone saw the genius in having some fun and being tongue in cheek and it really works.

Graphically Evil Zone looks excellent. From the colorful costumes to the amazing RPG influenced special attacks, this game holds its own against the top fighting games out for PlayStation. The cut-scenes use the in game graphic engine and for some reason there is a lot of polygon clipping (when the characters are close up) which tends to make that part of the game look a little first generation like. The in game animation of the characters is downright top notch and you will experience no lag in the controls at all.

Once you've got the look and the animation down, then the game better play good and Evil Zone comes through. The controls are easy to get used to which makes Evil Zone great for beginners and casual fighting game fans. Hardcore gamers may find the controls a little limited but that doesn't mean any less entertaining. Evil Zone relies on a very simplistic approach to fighting, so you won't find a plethora of moves per character ala Tekken 3. You get one attack button and one block button. Yep that's it. However by using different D-Pad presses with the attack button you'll fire off an impressive move list that belies it's simplicity. The moves are also location sensitive so if you are close to your rival you'll fire off a different set of moves than when you are further away. The attacks range from punches and kicks and throws (close) to punishing projectiles and intense magic (further away). Each character can also power up (hold the attack button down) to receive 1 - 3 Power Crystals. Then you can unleash a special attack that uses the crystals. The unique part of the Power Crystal upgrade is that the powering up utilizes your life bar. The more life you have, the longer it takes to power up. Of course this means that the less life you have the faster you can power up which makes the game all that more interesting and strategical when you are getting your butt kicked. Evil Zone also employs a Guard Button which actually works! Sure you'll take a bit of damage at close range but if you time it right (and use your ability to move around him in 3D space) you can get in a fast attack and perhaps even deflect your opponents attack back at him or her.

A good selection of anime style tunes compliments the package. You'll hear everything from screaming guitars and pounding drums to atmospheric inspired melodies. The voices are done well and have that "over zealous - overly dramatic" anime quality to them. My only complaint with the voices is that they sound a little distorted. They should have been cleaned up a little more. As well, it would have been nice to have been able to turn the down the music volume as the voice and music were competing for air time in some spots, and I missed some of the cornball dialogue. Speaking of dialogue, for the first time in a fighting game (that I can remember) the characters actually talk to each other while duking it out. Sure the phrases they use are repeated often but it's still a nice touch.

Evil Zone has a few of the expected modes of play. There's the one player, story, vs, survival and practice. If you are going to play the 1 player mode, do yourself a favor and play the Story mode (at least until you beat the game with all characters). Without a doubt Evil Zone's Story Mode is one you'll never forget. Filled with humor and drama, you will literally have to play to the end of each characters story because you'll want to see what they do next. Survival mode has you facing off against as many opponents as you can defeat with one life. Two player vs mode allows you and a friend to spar and of course the usual handicapping of characters is available for those who may be playing against a novice fighter.

Complaint Dept. The only thing I can say, is that for seasoned fighting vets, this game may be too simple. But in it's defense this isn't a realistic fighter like Tekken 3. It's as far removed as you can get, but it's still a blast. Anytime you have projectiles in a game you have to expect some cheap game play tactics by either the CPU or Player 2. But play this game for what it is and not for what it isn't and you will find one helluva fun game.

Evil Zone has the chance of being a full fledged hit but without any brand name recognition, it may be slow to pick up. Take my word for it, this game rocks! If anything Evil Zone has my vote for the best fringe game available for the PlayStation. It's a cool fighter that has as much personality as Tekken 3. In fact it has more personality than Tekken 3. Maybe the fighting style isn't your bag but there's more to this game than just kicking someone in the neck 300 times. Obviously Titus recognized the potential the title had and decided to bring it to these shores and they should be commended. I haven't played a title that entertained me like this in a long time. My final recommendation? Hunt out this game, try it out and take it home. If you don't like it, then I'm afraid you just don't get it.

OVERALL
8.5

GRAPHICS
8.0

CONTROL
9.5

MUSIC/FX
8.5

FRUSTRATION
2.0

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