Playing Star Gladiator 2

Capcom's latest import fight shows off solid gameplay but less than stellar graphic power.

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We got our sassy little paws on an import copy of Star Gladiator 2: Nightmare of Bilstein for the Sega Dreamcast today, and we've got screens and movies to satisfy your hungry, game-thirsty minds. Ah, let the feasting begin.

While the storyline is a superfluous excuse to get the original crew (and their palette-swapped doppelgangers) back in the ring, there are some significant changes from the game's original incarnation. Although the game was originally developed for PlayStation-based arcade hardware, Capcom decided it would look significantly better on the Dreamcast. True that it would, but this is a case of missed opportunities. Anyone expecting a Soul Calibur-style situation, where the developer takes its game to the next level, will be sorely disappointed. While the game looks smoother than the original arcade version, it's virtually nothing more than a cleaned-up version with a sprinkle of anti-aliasing. There is some substantial seaming that happens at the characters' joints, and the characters are clearly modeled using a limited number of polygons. For some reason, haunting memories of Toshinden 2 come to mind, but in a Dreamcast kind of way.

While it may be true that not everything is going to look as good as Soul Calibur, it should be noted that Capcom has already shown that it can take its detailed illustrations and make true-to-form 3D realizations of them like those seen in the company's other release, Power Stone. While the gameplay is still on target in Star Gladiator 2, the graphics are a pretty big letdown, with the crazy 3D background effects of the original title conspicuously absent here.

We'll be back with a full-on review in a short while, but from all indications, this is one that got away.

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