A simple, beautiful, underrated fighter with an anime twist.
The story centers around the world of I-Praseru, which was once threatened by powerful witch named Ihadurca. In order to save their world from destruction, Ihadurca was sealed in a realm called the Evil Zone. However, she continues to grow stronger and it will only be a matter of time before she breaks free. The leaders of I-Praseru decided to summon warriors from other worlds to take part in a tournament, and the winner gets to fight Ihadurca in the Evil Zone.
This game's simplicity comes from the gameplay. There are only two major buttons, attack (triangle) and defend (square), which net you a surprising number of moves to use. The defend button simply allows you to block an attack or maneuver quickly around an opponent when you are in close range. While close to your opponent, pressing the attack button will make your character perform a sort of melee attack, which varies depending if you are facing your opponent from the front or behind. The distance between characters nets you six more moves with attack and down direction buttons, three for close range and three for far range. That doesn't count any additional moves executed by using the up directional button instead. The green crystal bar of the left and right sides of the screen represent the health of the two characters duking it out. You can charge it by holding the attack button and once a charge is completed you gain a red gem. You can charge up to three at one time and you can throw them an the opponent to unleash your special attack, providing it doesn't get blocked by the opponent.
Evil Zone is heavily centered around anime. Each of the ten warriors has their own story mode, which is designed much like a ten episode anime miniseries. This includes episode previews and narration from the characters themselves. The game's opening movie and ending credit movies of each character's story are fully animated. The graphic quality of the game overall is decent, with the characters sporting lots of detail, but it is somewhat more blocky than some PlayStation titles. The background view of each stage are nothing more than simple, flat, 2D backgrounds. However, it's easy to forget about them once the match begins.
The sountrack is a treat for the ears, with each character having their own special instrumental theme, adding to the uniqueness of each character. The games biggest downfall is with the sound. The sound-effects themselves are good. The voice overs, however, were poorly recorded, often resulting in lots of static effecting the overall quality. On top of that, the characters' mouths often continue to move even after each character has stopped talking.
In terms of replayability, this game offers a fair bit to get your frustrations out. Aside from the story mode, there is 1P Battle, 2P Battle, Survival and a training mode. Once you get familiar with the controls, it doesn't take long to speed through all ten stories, as it can take less than twenty-four hours to do so. In 1P Battle, you can play through the fights from the story mode without all the story and with options you can set up yourself (such as the number of rounds per match and the AI difficulty). You can rumble with your friends in 2P Battle but Survival really stands out as the ultimate test. You play an unlimited number of matches against a more intelligent AI, with only one life and minimal restoration of your health bar, until you lose.
Despite the terrible voice-overs and blocky graphics, Evil Zone is one of the best games for the PlayStation. It has enough for fans of both anime and fighting games to enjoy, as well providing hours of melee entertainment for the masses. To top it all off, there are special features such as an encyclopedia, music player and voice library. If you can somehow find a copy, it will be worth more than what you will pay for it and I highly recommend it.