Hands-onPower Stone 2

We've got screens and impressions of Power Stone 2 for the Sega Dreamcast.

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Power Stone 2, based on the Naomi-hardware arcade game, adds several interesting things to the popular 3D fighting game. For starters, the game now supports up to four players. This makes two-on-two battles possible. But the amazing backgrounds greatly overshadow any other addition. What makes the backgrounds so incredible? Interactivity. One level has you carry on the battle while you run away from a gigantic Indiana Jones-style rolling boulder. Along the run you can pick up a skateboard and use it to stay ahead of the boulder, while trying to trip up your opponents in an attempt to crush them. Another level puts you on top of two submarines. As they occasionally submerge and resurface, you'll have to hop back and forth between the two boats. The tops of the subs have turrets that you can man, and even a little hovership that lets you float around above the surface and drop bombs on the fighters below.

The graphics are roughly the same as the original Power Stone's, but since you're seeing more characters on-screen, the chracters are a little smaller. Also, because of the wild backgrounds, the action moves along at a much faster pace. But even though the game is even more action-packed than the original, the backgrounds add a lot of strategy to the game. Now, you don't simply hop around small levels kicking each other in an attempt to collect all three Power Stones. Now you've got to think about where you're going to land, as well as which harmful obstacle you can knock your enemy into next.

The Dreamcast version looks just about as good as the arcade version, and it looks as though the DC version will contain an online component similar to that of the recently-released Capcom fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom 2. This means Japanese players will have to pay an additional fee to play online, but they'll get better response times this way than they would if the game simply hooked up to the Internet.

Fans of the original Power Stone will be pleased with the similar, yet definitely enhanced feel of Power Stone 2. Even with only two players, it's still a lot of fun, plus the game is significantly more balanced than its predecessor.

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