When Bloody Roar 3 hit the PlayStation 2 earlier this year, it benefited from the fact that it was one of the only 3D fighters available for the system. Developer Hudson looks to repeat that timing with the latest entry in the Bloody Roar series, Bloody Roar Primal Fury, for Nintendo's GameCube. Outside of Super Smash Bros., the game will find no competition in the fighting genre for some time, since Soul Calibur 2 is not due for a while. Despite the lack of competition, Hudson has opted not to coast and do a straight port of BR3 for the GameCube. Bloody Roar Primal Fury will instead feature an overhauled graphics engine, tweaked gameplay, new characters, new stages, and extra gameplay modes. We recently checked out a preview build of the game and found that it all seemed to be coming together nicely.
The game's premise still focuses on the various "zoanthrope" fighters, humans subjected to a variety of experiments by the Tylon Corporation in order to create warriors that combine human and animal traits. Having brought down the corporation in Bloody Roar 2, the various zoanthropes are trying to go about their lives--although it's always a bit hard to go "civilian" when you can morph into a humanoid animal. This time out there isn't as much emphasis on the game's story. A short intro sequence gives you a rough idea of what's going on, but there isn't a true "story" mode like in Bloody Roar 2. All the characters are participating in a contest put on by King Orion, who is funding research to discover the secret of the zoanthropes' morphing ability. Think of it as a fundraiser with one-on-one fighting action.
If you're familiar with Bloody Roar 3 on the PlayStation 2, you'll notice that Bloody Roar Primal Fury on the GameCube offers several new modes. In addition to the arcade and survival modes found in the PS2 game, you'll also find time attack, team battle, and training mode, which replaces the PS2's practice mode. You'll also find an extra multiplayer mode, versus team battle, in addition to the standard versus. The game is also expected to contain as many, if not more, hidden modes that you'll unlock by playing through the game's various modes.
You'll find the same mix of old and new in BRPF's roster and stages. In addition to the 12 default characters you start out with and the two secret characters, you'll also find two original characters, Chronos the bird and Ganesha the elephant. Chronos has the dubious "bonus" of being able to morph into a penguin-like form in addition to being able to morph into his phoenix form. Each character will have two new original outfits for the game as well. You'll find fewer familiar sights in the game's stages, because only three are from BR3. The aircraft carrier, the building rooftop, and the back alley return, although they have been remodeled--the back alley stage also features a collapsible floor. The other six backgrounds--a Chinese temple, an aquarium, a freeway at night, an Indian palace, a laboratory, and a Japanese castle--are new.
The core gameplay in Bloody Roar Primal Fury has been brought over from BR3 with a bit of refinement and a new twist. The characters have the same move sets and handle the same way. The default control scheme works fairly well on the GameCube controller. The analog stick or D-pad moves your character, B punches, A kicks, Y blocks and throws when used in conjunction with a direction, X triggers your beast transformation, and Z triggers your hyperbeast mode. Finally, you'll maneuver around the ring with the L and R triggers. The hyperbeast mode, available to you only when your beast meter is fully charged, can now be activated at any time during a match. The catch to the new freedom is that each hyperbeast transformation costs you a portion of your health, which keeps the move from being abused in battle.
Graphically Bloody Roar Primal Fury offers a solid visual boost from the PS2 game. All characters and returning stages have been remodeled to take advantage of the GameCube hardware. The characters sport a high amount of detail and clarity that is a cut above what was seen on the PS2. The various stages are equally impressive, providing a solid showcase for the GameCube's texturing power. Bricks, asphalt, concrete, and metal surfaces all sport crisp, clean detail. Lighting is also well done, offering a range of effects from the subtle lighting in the Japanese temple to the dramatic lighting in the laboratory. While there were a few frame rate hitches in the preview build we played, the game was running at a near constant 60 frames per second, which kept the action smooth. The game isn't shipping until February, so there should still be time for the frame rate to be locked at 60 by release.
So far the game is coming along fine, and the various extras and gameplay tweaks give the game a slightly more polished feel overall. Given that the GameCube software library is a bit thin on 3D fighters, Bloody Roar Primal Fury should benefit from good timing as Bloody Roar 3 did. Look for it this March.