From Sony Daily Radar:
Guess what just bounced into our laps?
We just got to take a spin with The Bouncer, and we\'re happy to say that most all of what we\'ve been promised has come true. So first -- don\'t worry -- this is not going to be the first big letdown of the new millennium. Square has promised gamers an unprecedented hybrid between RPG and fighter, and while we\'re not quite convinced that this game represents an evolutionary step, it\'s certainly got elements of both -- albeit with an emphasis on the fighting side of things.
Our time with the game included a rather thorough demo of the first few levels of the game. Most of you have already seen movies of the intro sequences -- and let\'s just say that they\'re fantastic live. As the credits roll, we\'re treated to a brief tranquil first look at the city. Mugetsu and his gang of Mikado Special Forces thugs come soaring through the ceiling and into the bar called Fate, snatch the dainty Dominique (who\'s just handed the classically sullen Sion a pendant to celebrate the anniversary of their having met, no less) and then hop promptly out the window again. The Bouncer logo comes up, then the game really kicks in...
The meat of the game is comprised of a series of action-based scenes, kicking off in the bar itself, followed by an outdoor fight. Then it\'s on to the now legendary train-hopping scene, which is where we\'re introduced to the mysterious and curiously coifed Echidna (A certain Blake Fischer immediately nicknamed her "knuckles"). Along the way, certain mission parameters affect gameplay -- one example included a desperate search on rails for a key card; failing to find it results in the runaway train crashing violently into the station. The gaping hole that\' s left causes seawater to come streaming in, and the next few missions become doubly challenging -- spend too long disposing of the opposition and you\'re up to your neck, as it were.
Square\'s never been one to shy away from convoluted and melodramatic storylines, and while The Bouncer seems to be a pretty straightforward good and evil affair, it\'s already clear that a whole lot of backstory\'s going on. Sion\'s got the huge, sorrowful eyes that evoke the best of the pathos-ridden heroes from Final Fantasy, and Volt seems to have had a thing with the sassy Echidna. Additionally, from the beginning, it\'s clear that Kou\'s got more to do with the Mikado group than just working down the street. Throw in an a mysterious blonde watching a nicely produced news story about a state of the art orbital satellite (courtesy of the Mikado Group, no less) and it\'s pretty clear that this is no mere bar brawl you\'re about to embark on.
At the beginning of each fight, the player can choose which of the three fighters they\'d like to use -- naturally, each offers slight variations on attack and mobility. Sion seems to be the jack-of-all trades, while Kou and Volt flesh out the "limber leggy guy" and "big old bruiser" molds. Each has a series of special moves; both those and precious life points can be purchased along the way by means of Bouncer Points (BPs), which are earned by pulling off particularly intricate or brutal moves.
Along with our gameplay experience was a run with the game\'s multiplayer options -- specifically, the battle royal mode, which allows up to four players to select a fighter and go at it. In addition to the titular trio, plenty of other characters -- including the villains and an elderly badass called Wong -- are available for the choosing, though these will need to be unlocked in the final version. The arenas feature key environs from the game itself, including atop the train, at the bar, and even aboard the airship that\'s been the subject of so much speculation. Some of the areas feature multiple levels, though we were sad to see that there was little environmental interaction -- so much for smashing your friend\'s teeth in with a chair, but fists and feet do the job just fine.
The four face buttons are relegated to high, low, middle and jumping attacks, while the R1 and L1 triggers initiate blocking and special moves respectively. During the enthusiasm and confusion that ensued as editors picked up their DualShock2s, it was a little difficult to get a good feel for the vaunted analog button sensitivity, but there were plenty of pyrotechnics and spectacular acrobatics, and the analog stick was responsive when moving the characters about.
Already, it\'s clear enough that Square\'s gone the extra mile or two in peppering the game with loving details. Intersequence loading screens offer brief dialogues -- screenplay style -- that give the gamer additional insight into each of the Bouncers and their pasts. Some examples we saw firsthand included allusions to tough guy Volts once bouncing for shadier groups than the bar and to Sion\'s history as an orphan himself. The title screens are gorgeous (they are, after all, by Square) and the character and move selection menus feature an understated aesthetic that\'s far more sophisticated than most we\'ve seen. And then there\'s the marvelous attention to onscreen details, but we\'ll leave those to the gamer to discover.
We\'ll admit that the Final Fight analogy that\'s been running rampant is partially applicable -- for example, while riding atop the train, you can\'t toss enemy rent-a-cops off the side, essentially relegating that fast hurtling arena to a rather narrow corridor. Hell, even Double Dragon allowed us to hurl the odd thug or two to their deaths. Then again, it\'s clear that this is going to be the most spectacular beat-\'em-\'up we\'ve ever laid hands on, even if it\'s not going to change the world. It\'s plain that there\'s a lot we\'ve yet to see -- you can be sure that we\'re ready and eager to give it a shot.
Sorry for the long article.