The Dreamcast classics are reborn on the PSP.
If the name Power Stone evokes déjà vu it might be because you played it at the arcade or on the Dreamcast all those years ago. Or it might be the onset of a serious brain disorder caused from playing too many videogames.
Power Stone Collection for the PSP includes both Power Stones versions, the original Power Stone and the imaginatively titled sequel, Power Stone 2, in one complete package. Think of it as the “best of both brawlers.” These are fast, fun fighters filled full of fists of fury and feats of fantastical fortitude. While remaining true to their heritage, with the exception of being tweaked to fit the widescreen format, the games look like they did when they originally appeared – which means the graphics look dated. The gameplay however is not dated and that’s why Capcom has decided to bring the series back and re-launch it on the portable PSP system. It’s more than just a straight-ahead brawler, with interactive 3D environments, weapons, power-ups and the transforming super attacks fueled by the collection of the Power Stones. There are several modes, unlockables and mini-games but nothing can touch the two-player mode. Unfortunately this mode is only available through the local ad-hock wireless system and not over the internet. Your opponent will also require a copy of the game since it doesn’t support game sharing.
My advice would be to consider renting this game unless you have a few friends that are willing to purchase this collection which would allow you to take advantage of the two-player mode. Having just one other player with a copy may not cut it because unless you are both relatively equally matched, one of you will lose interest in playing with the other. The single-player mode is not bad but the programming is primitive as the AI is more ham-fisted, relying more on their overall power than showing any fighting finesse such as dodging, blocking and strafing.
What sets this fighter apart from many of its contemporaries of the day, and even today for that matter, is that you’re not stuck in two dimensions. At first the arenas seem confining but they are rendered in 3D, with multiple levels that opens up more real estate than you would have in a 2D environment. These arenas contain all kinds of interactive items that you can pick up and use as weapons such as crates, rocks and benches. Treasure chests contain power-ups that will boost your health and offer you protection in the form of shields. They can also yield a vast assortment of weapons such as swords, guns and baseball bats. But nothing is as revered as the Power Stones. Each player begins the bout with one stone and will forfeit it to his opponent if he takes a bad beating. Collecting three of the Power Stones will drastically alter your character’s appearance and augment his powers to a seriously deadly level, albeit temporarily. Each character transforms into something different, from a giant mech to a dinosaur, each with unique special attacks from the ability to shoot missiles to the ability to spit fire.
Acquiring these Power Stones is the key to winning the matches. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the strategy to the game is to get your hands on these stones. With more powerful attacks you will be able to slam these stones right out of his grasp and continue to devastate him with your more powerful form. This concept of acquiring these stones gives the game some depth and a welcome shift in focus from standard brawling. It also compresses the gap between the different skill levels of potential multi-player combatants as the balance of power will shift in favor of the player with the stones. This doesn’t mean that an inexperienced player can hope to win against a hardcore gamer but it does mean that a good weekend warrior can stand a chance against a fanatically serious brawler. The game doesn’t take itself too seriously as it’s is more about having a good time than becoming a world champion brawler.
The basic moves set is limited but you can do a lot with it. All of the characters are evenly matched and have only the slightest variations, so it really doesn’t matter what character you play as, at least until the Power Stone transformation takes place. There are the basic punches and kicks in addition to grappling and the ability to pick up and throw items as well as use weapons. Training modes have been added to the PSP version. The main Story modes and a Verses modes that pits you against the AI have also been included. You can unlock playable characters, there are only eight in the original game but you can unlock some from the second game as well. The Mini Game Arcade features three mini-games that appeared in the original Power Stone. They are basically VMU games that were played on the Dreamcast memory card. These games actually serve a function other than just a diversion as you can earn coins to unlock other things such as art, movie endings and music.
Power Stone 2 is a noticeable improvement over the original. It has more of everything: More characters, weapons, arenas and unlockables. The Power Stone abilities has been increased and up to four characters can brawl either as team-vs-team or three-against-one. The addition of a new mode, the Adventure mode, is brings more to the table for the single-player component. In this mode you will earn money and items which you can combine to create various items upgrades. Not knowing exactly what you’re going to end up with is incentive enough to try to win the fight to see what you can create next.
There is no question the game looks dated, but it’s got arcade written all over – for better or for worse. It’s almost too colorful, with cartoonish anime characters and fantastical stages, complete with traps and moving platforms such as an air ship and submarine that adds some extra challenge to the game. The voiceovers are as corny as professional wrestling interviews but the dialog is more eccentric due to the eclectic mix of characters. The controls are tight and the gameplay is fast paced, although the load times between matches could piss off a saint. The soundtrack is excellent, if you’re into re-created synthesized arcade tunes.
Purist will rejoice in the overall faithful recreation of these cult classics while the PSP introduces these games to a whole new audience.
February 20, 2006 – Power Stone and Power Stone 2 originally appeared on the Dreamcast back in the early 00’s. Featuring frenetic, fast paced 4-player action, both games were fan favorites of Dreamcast adopters. Capcom has just announced that it will be retooling both games for the PSP in one collection, entitled Power Stone Collection which is set for a 4th quarter release.
The gameplay revolves around a 4 player battle royal where characters seek to eliminate the other players using anything and everything they can get their hands on. Punches, kicks and weapons are all fair game, but as you might guess, Power Stones which appear randomly around the levels, can really turn the tide in favor of the player who gets it first. Get three Power Stones and your character transforms into a super fighter with far more powerful attacks.
In terms of makeovers, both titles will receive new bonus weapons and a camera system that is more friendly to the PSP’s lack of a right analog stick. Power Stone will feature the 4 new characters introduced in the sequel (but not found in the original game) as well as a revamped interface more in line with the health bars and radar HUD’s of Power Stone 2. Power Stone will feature a new Bomber Battle mini-game that wasn’t originally included. Both games will allow up to 4 players, via ad hoc with one UMD disc.
Having owned both games, I’m a little concerned with the intense action taking place on the PSP’s small screen. I can tell you from personal experience that it was easy to lose track of your character on a large screen television, so I’m a little reluctant to suggest that this won’t be a hurdle for the handheld version…but I’m keeping an open mind.