TOKYO--Among the big chunk of games on display at Sega and Sammy's joint booth on the Tokyo Game Show floor is the PlayStation 2 version of The Rumble Fish, Sammy's arcade fighter. This original brawler has been out in Japanese arcades for some time now, which means the PlayStation 2 conversion has its work cut out for it. The work-in-progress version of the game let us try our hand at one of the game's modes and get a feel for its fighting system.
The TGS demo of the game is limited to the arcade mode. The mode is straightforward, and it lets you pick any one of the game's nine characters. The roster is an eclectic bunch of fighting-genre archetypes, and it includes your standard assortment of small, medium, and large characters with fighting styles that reflect their speed. The game uses a four-button system of light and strong punches and kicks. Character moves break down into the standard fighting-game conventions, such as quarter-circle and half-circle motions tied to button presses and assorted ground and air combos. The controls seem responsive on the PlayStation 2 controller, and are comparable to the arcade handling. In addition to the arcade mode, we saw story, versus, and training modes as selectable options, although we weren't able to try them.
The overall presentation of the game is looking sharp, even in its incomplete state. The graphics in the game look good, thanks to a new rendering technique that independently animates different segments of each character's body--the result are characters that look 2D but animate with the fluidity you'd expect from 3D characters. The system has been re-created well on the PlayStation 2 and has the same benefits and quirks as its arcade cousin. On the plus side, the animation system gives all the characters a high number of frames that result in very smooth movement. The downside is that the system doesn't really give the characters much individuality in their idle animation, due to the standardized nature of the movement. The backgrounds are detailed, with little flourishes such as graffiti and various ambient animations. The audio is faithful to the arcade game and features the same assortment of voices, effects, and tunes.
The PS2 version of The Rumble Fish is shaping up to be a faithful conversion of the arcade game on the PlayStation 2. The distinct animation system and the particular fighting mechanics here seem to offer a good change of pace from the traditional 2D fighters currently out there. While both these things have their quirks, we're pleased to see a developer still doing some experimentation in the genre rather than relying on the now-standard Capcom and SNK fighting models. For more updates, be sure to check GameSpot's coverage of Tokyo Game Show 2004.