Bloody Roar: Primal Fury may not be representative of the sophisticated side of the fighting game genre, but it certainly looks great, and it can be fun.
As if the idea of beating people up using exaggerated martial-arts combos weren't enough of a draw, the Bloody Roar games also let you transform into anthropomorphic animals that, according to the games' fiction, are even better than people at beating people up using exaggerated martial-arts combos. The fourth game in the series, Bloody Roar: Primal Fury, is based on Bloody Roar 3 for the PlayStation 2. It adds a couple of new characters, some new extras, much better graphics, and much faster loading times, though it retains its predecessor's rather simplistic fighting system. Bloody Roar: Primal Fury may not be representative of the sophisticated side of the fighting game genre, but it certainly looks great, and it can be fun. It's also the first traditional fighting game for the GameCube.
The influence of anime upon Bloody Roar: Primal Fury is apparent from the get-go. The game opens with a colorful animated sequence that shows the game's various characters doing their thing. You'll find that each character also gets his or her own brief anime-style epilogue when you finish the arcade mode. All the anime stuff looks pretty good, yet Bloody Roar's actual in-game graphics are much better--the 3D-rendered character models do an excellent job of flaunting the GameCube's processing power. Though the animations of the fighters aren't exceptional and the default view of the bouts is just far enough away from the fighters that you can't really see them in detail, when the camera zooms in for a close-up of the winner of a match, you'll undoubtedly be impressed. Less than a year ago, you'd hardly expect to find such highly detailed characters in prerendered cutscenes, let alone right there being rendered on the fly. From subtle changes in the characters' facial expressions to tiny details seen in their clothing, Bloody Roar: Primal Fury looks great, and it runs at a perfectly smooth 60 frames per second. The background scenery isn't quite as striking as the characters, though it still provides plenty to gawk at.
The characters sound much like you'd probably expect them to. Their voices fit them well, though when they shape-change to animal form, they sound pretty generic. The game's bubbly soundtrack, consisting of completely uncool guitar riffs, is perhaps a suitable match for its anime-influenced character designs, though it can also get rather irritating. All told, Bloody Roar: Primal Fury sounds about as good as most fighting games do these days.
Its gameplay is best suited to those who aren't too serious about the fighting genre, though there's at least some level of depth. The controls are simplistic--there's a punch button, a kick button, and a button that makes you instantly change into your character's beast form, if you can do so at the time. You can also use the shoulder buttons to sidestep left or right, though such tactics are usually unnecessary. You'd do just as well to jam on either the punch or the kick buttons rapidly in order to produce long strings of dazzling attacks. You might think that varying up your punches and kicks, or using throws or counters, would be a good idea. In practice, though, you don't really have to. Not against the computer, anyway. The computer is easy to beat by using the same moves over and over. At higher difficulties, and especially toward the end of the eight-stage arcade mode, the computer starts fighting cheap. You probably won't mistake this for a challenge, though. At any rate, if you've ever wondered what the pejorative expression "button masher" really refers to, you'll find out when you play Bloody Roar: Primal Fury. It's unfair to say the game's fighting system is totally superficial, since there are a few complex tricks that can be learned. However, you could get by more easily without bothering. The difference between an excellent fighting game and a game like Bloody Roar: Primal Fury is that Bloody Roar offers little reward or advantage to players who bother to learn all the moves.