The genre of fighting games based on anime seems to have exploded in the recent months, with the popularity of these programs ensuring a strong fan base for the game adaptations. The majority of the time these titles fail to offer much for the hardcore fighting game enthusiast. InuYasha: Feudal Combat is one such anime fighter that makes a noble effort to stand alone as a solid fighting game, but still falls short.
The anime program InuYasha should be familiar to anyone involved in the gaming community, with the license popping up in games constantly during the past three years itâ€™s been on the air. The story behind InuYasha is of the character Kagome, who discovers a magic well and is transported back to Japanese feudal times. This time-travel frees a half-demon, InuYasha, and destroys the Jewel of Four Souls. Kagome and InuYasha then team up to save the jewel over the seriesâ€™ 200 episodes.
InuYasha: Feudal Combat is set up like your typical fighting game, but with a few twists. There are the usual modes: a single player Story mode, a Versus battle mode and a Training mode, but thereâ€™s also the unique Mission mode, based around a partner system. The partner system is a key part of what sets InuYasha apart from others in the genre.
The partner system pairs the player up with a computer-controlled ally, who fights by your side. It also allows two computer-controlled enemies to fight together against you and your partner. This system adds a fresh dynamic to the entire game. Players must choose their partner carefully, as each partner works better with certain characters. This chemistry-based system of pairing complementing characters together is called â€˜affinity,â€™ and the higher the affinity between two characters the quicker their energy gauges will rise in battle. Affinity can be improved by saving your partner from harm and lowered by letting your partner take damage.
Another key part of the partner system is the use of formations, which let the player give basic orders to the A.I. ally. The player can select different formations by hitting the L1 button, with each formation suited to a different battle strategy. The Wind formation makes the partner character mimic the actions of the player, and is good for nonstop attacks on the enemy. The Forest formation instructs your partner to attack whichever opponent you arenâ€™t attacking, a useful tactic for breaking up enemy onslaughts. The Fire formation focuses the attack on the enemy closest to your partner, making for brutal team-ups. Finally, the Mountain formation instructs the partner character to protect the player, which comes in handy for defensive strategies.
The gameplay in InuYasha is pretty cut and dry. The partner system does help enhance the action, but the lack of fighting moves really brings the game down. The only moves at the playerâ€™s disposal are weak attack, average attack and strong attack, without many combo options. More moves do exist in the game, but arenâ€™t easy or smooth to carry out. The other main move is the super attack, which can only be executed once the playerâ€™s energy bar fills up. Super attacks are very powerful moves, but each time one is performed a small cut-scene plays, interrupting the flow of the battle. These cut-scenes grow repetitive after a while and end up detracting from the game instead of adding to it.
InuYashaâ€™s graphic system is a combination of cartoony and realistic styles, implemented with success. The characters are realistic enough to bring some seriousness to the battle, but still retain their colorful aesthetics enough to not take away from the fun. All the moves in the game are displayed well and the action is flashy and bright. The only problem with the graphics is the lack of three-dimensional battle stages. All the stages are linear two-dimensional levels, which really contrasts against the detail of the characters. If a discerning player notices the background compared to the characters, you slowly get the feeling that the characters are just stuck against a blue screen background. It would have been nice to see a more finished backdrop for the fighting to go along with the equally detailed characters.
The sound in InuYasha compliments the action well. The character voices are loud enough to hear over the action, and the battle effects are realistic. The music helps illustrate every battle and keep the player involved in the action.
Overall, InuYasha: Feudal Combat is definitely lacking in some departments. However, the game functions well as a simple-structured fighting game, with the partner system a welcome addition. Hardcore fans of the InuYasha anime series will be pleased to see and play all their favorite characters in sharp detail. Gamers less easy to please may find the fighting system a little basic, and will put down the game wanting more. Either way, InuYasha is a stable fighting game with the potential to provide at least some measure of entertainment.