I tried to like this game, I really did. But the biggest flaw is what the game is named for.
Powerstone feels a lot like those old beat-em-ups of the early Genesis/SNES days. The battles involve quick jabs, throws, and a whole lot of fun button mashing. Of course, like most traditional fighting titles, there's a health bar near the character's name. After you lose all 3 bars, which is just eye candy, losing each bar does not affect your character's performance, sadly, you get the big, "KO" on the screen. The biggest attraction to the title is how interactive the environment is for a fighting title. In each stage, there is a ton of things that appear, or are there at the start, that you can pick up, and either use as a weapon, or just plainly through at your enemy. You can also swing on poles to gain speed or lunge at your enemies. This is where most of the fun happens in the title. Generally, the quicker you attack, and the most efficient your attacks are, you will probably win, as guarding in this game is pretty much not an option. This can get tedious, and quite annoying if your enemy gets the items to conveniently get placed RIGHT where he is, because sometimes, the game feels like it's just against you, especially when you're doing well. The characters are pretty balanced, if not about the same, so that's not really a problem. The biggest problem with this title is what this game is named for. The damn Powerstones. In each stage, there is 3 powerstones or so, that if you manage to collect them, you get periodically super powerful (but not invincible, even if it is almost impossible to touch you) your character changes to match his personality, and you can unleash SUPER POWERFUL moves that if you get the powerstones often, your chances of winning are pretty much secure. Of course, this makes the unfair factor for your opponent, or yourself incredibly high when the powerstones just happen to appear right near your opponent about 70% of the time. And when this happens, all you can do is run around and HOPE TO GOD you don't get hit. Let's hope god loves you, because it is almost impossible to get away from these attacks. Sadly, these Powerstones also often interrupt the fighting, because when a powerstone appears on the screen that either was taken away from you or your opponent (you always start with one powerstone in the beginning of each stage, so you have to put a powerful attack on your enemy to make him let go of his, and find the next one when it appears), or appears mid-fight, you and the CPU, or probably your friend you're fighting stop what they're doing, and go right after the Powerstone, almost ignoring you, unless you're in the way, where they will hit you with something so that they can get it instead. Each and every battle involves this stupid cat and mouse game of getting the Powerstones before your opponent, and it gets old VERY QUICK. And of course, because the powerstones are the name of the game, you cannot turn them off. Joy. If this title was about just beating up each other, with items or just pressing the attack buttons, it might be more linear, but at least it wouldn't be as frustrating as capcom made this. In single player and multiplayer gameplay, this is just a pain in the arse, and never shouldv'e made it passed the drawing board.
As Powerstone is a release title for the Dreamcast, the graphics aren't super amazing, but they are clean and crisp, and the attacks, powerstone, or normal, look great. When comparing it to today's games, it's very outdated, but it's a little unfair to do that. The characters have a decent amount of polygons on themselves, even if the textures could use some help on them, and the levels are quite detailed, with plenty of interaction with it. The presentation is just as good, with a late 19th century look (don't ask why there's a plane in it when they say it takes place in the 19th century, it doesn't have to make sense). All in all, a good looking title, despite the age of it.
The sound effects on Powerstone are average. The voice overs are alright, as they are subtle, and the talent behind it seems to know what they were doing. The hard hits are a little lacking in a powerful sound effect, however, and explosions are just as weak, which could be good and bad. The music, is forgettable, with the exception of the good intro music. All in all, the music and sound effects could be better, but you'll live through it. It's no Sonic Shuffle. Uck.
The biggest draw to this title is it's multiplayer fighting, even if it's flawed, it's still fun, and you always have the possibility of making a deal with your friend to ignore all powerstones, which would give this an 8/10, but seeing as you'll probably want to play with them, Powerstone doesn't get so lucky. The single player moves like an average fighting title, and like normal fighting titles, you'll either play it over and over again, or you'll play it once with one character and never EVER care to come back. The fact that the characters are generally the same, and the fighting revolves around a stupid gimic only makes the value worse. 4-player gameplay would have been a great addition.
Powerstone had a ton of promise. However, due to it's glaring flaws, mainly involving a single gimic that the game is named after, it doesn't reach it's potential. The 2nd one fixes these problems slightly, actually, by allowing 4 players, different paths in single player, and less emphasis on the stones. If you really want to try Powerstone, rent it first. It's a cult classic, no doubt, however, there's a good chance you'll never find out what that cult is really excited about. You're better off with Powerstone 2, if you want a multiplayer 4 player smash fest.