Zatch Bell! Mamodo Fury Hands-On

We check out a work-in-progress version of Namco Bandai's anime-inspired action game.

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Currently scheduled for release in North America toward the end of this month, Zatch Bell! Mamodo Fury is a combat-based action game based on the popular Zatch Bell! anime series. The game, like the show, revolves around a schoolboy named Kiyo and his mamodo friend Zatch. What's a mamodo? Mamodo are demons from another world that, every thousand years, descend upon Earth to battle for the title of king. Each mamodo has access to a spell book, but using the powers contained within it requires assistance from a human partner. Zatch isn't nearly as power-hungry as the majority of his demonic peers, but he and Kiyo have no choice but to defend themselves when other mamodo attack.

You'll unlock additional playable characters as you progress through the story mode.

Zatch Bell! Mamodo Fury is a fighting game in which up to four players can do battle simultaneously, controlling both human and mamodo characters. For the purpose of this preview, however, we've focused on playing through the early story mode missions--unlocking additional playable characters and environments for the versus mode in the process. The first time you play through the story mode it will be as Kiyo and Zatch, though options that we've yet to unlock on the story mode menu look as though they might let you play through the game as at least two other character pairings later on.

After opting to play the game on easy, normal, or hard mode and being thrust into your first battle, you'll find that the default controls see you assuming direct control of Kiyo while Zatch follows you around. You can switch between the two characters at any time, though it's worth noting that the human characters will be motionless and vulnerable to attacks when you take control of a mamodo. The decent-size arenas in which the battles take place invariably have objects that you can safely stash characters behind for a time, but since many of those objects are destructible, it's rarely a good idea to leave your human character out of sight for too long. With that said, you'll know if your human character gets into trouble because they'll drop the spell book that they're carrying, which prevents you using any of your demon's magic attacks.

Regardless of which character you're using, your range of moves at the start of your story-driven adventure will be quite limited. You'll have a melee attack, a jump, a dash/evade mode, a targeting lock for ranged attacks, and just a couple of different spells that are activated by holding down the spell button for different amounts of time. As you progress through the game you'll unlock new and more powerful offensive spells that are used by pressing the button for increasingly long amounts of time--as indicated on screen by a counter with numbers one through five and a letter "S." The additional spells that we've unlocked for Kiyo and Zatch thus far include erecting a temporary shield and a "Jikerdor" move that welds enemies to the floor for a short time. We should mention, though, that the abilities appear to vary quite significantly according to which demon you're using, as we found out when experimenting with other playable demons, such as Reycom, Sugino, Tia, Kanchome, and Wonrei.

Your grade at the end of each battle determines how many points you can spend upgrading your mamodo.

Each time you win a battle, you'll be graded on your performance according to a number of different factors, such as how much health you had left at the end, how many times you dropped your spell book, and how much time was remaining on the clock. Your grade will determine how many mamodo points you get to spend on improving your demons' attributes, which include spell strength, strongest spell, body strength, speed, defense spirit, fighting spirit, and luck.

Zatch Bell! Mamodo Fury appears to be faithful to the anime on which it is based, particularly in the visuals department, although we did find that the camera--which attempts to keep your opponent in view at all times--had some problems keeping up with the action in our work-in-progress version of the game. We look forward to bringing you a full review of the PlayStation 2 game when it's released in North America later this month. A GameCube version is also development, but it currently has only the somewhat vague release date of "winter."

Discussion

15 comments
Tauren88
Tauren88

cant wait to try out the game..

evilshadwgamer
evilshadwgamer

i dont know just because the show is good don't mean the game will

sizzlemebacon2
sizzlemebacon2

Zifhael unless you have forgotten (although I'm not personally a DBZ fan) Budokai 3 actually wasn't bad it had a wide variety of characters an interesting yet confusing story mode gameplay oh yeah and the game play was simple and fun although not very deep it was fun.

Zifhael
Zifhael

you know, it would be nice to see a decent anime-inspired game, JUST ONCE...so far , this doesnt look too bad, but it hasnt fully been reviewed, so we shall wait and see

GigaKaiser
GigaKaiser

"And to make matters worse its from an anime that NO ONE has ever heard of before. Sigh." Actually, as I understand it, it's pretty popular considering it's a show for little kids. It's timeslot alone ensures a decent audience.

dundee85
dundee85

after playing my 360 for the past year this game looks so dated

StarFox-GCN
StarFox-GCN

I want to try this Zatch game...it look's much better than the other one...I hope it is...

_Sam_
_Sam_

some name :P

Dreadblades24
Dreadblades24

This game is way cool and a lot of people have heard about this game. I can't wait to play it. I'm going to play as Baltro, Zatch, Kanchome, Wonrei, Tia (I hope they have her) and Ponygon (I wonder how fast he is going to be.

rickjames_ice9
rickjames_ice9

Looks great. This is kinda what I hoped dragon ball z would be more like ie more strategy based.

TheGamer4Life
TheGamer4Life

And to make matters worse its from an anime that NO ONE has ever heard of before. Sigh.

TintedChimes
TintedChimes

Alright, more mediocre games from anime, just what we need. At least make them cheap for the consumers, PRICE WISE!

gorillaz_13
gorillaz_13

awesome!im gonna buy this game.^_^ (yes my first time being first)