- Superb graphics hold up even today
- Interesting characters
- Unlockable players are fun to use
- The combat will amuse some
- The total lack of camera control make it horrendous
- Fighting sequences are far too short
- The story mode is about 90 minutes long
The Bouncer was probably the best looking game ever released on any platform in 2001. In fact the graphics still are a match with today's standard. Other than the visual, the Bouncer needed a bit more work especially with its atrocious camera and shallow combat. Despite all of this, it is more than worth a look.
The game follows the story of 3 bouncers; Sion, Volt and Kou who hang out at a bar called Fate. After the first fight and scenes, a young girl Dominique is taken away by the Mikado Group's soldier, so the bouncers follow them, fight their way through the enemies in attempt to get her back.
The fighting is just right for some. Let's start by saying that The Bouncer is a sort of street fighting game. The game puts you in a fight after a scene and you get to choose any of the 3 Bouncers. After you select one, he will say a phrase different from the one the others say. The fighting sequences are very short and there is virtually no exploration. The battle area is generally small almost all times with 5 or 6 enemies which you need to take of. Using the right button of the joystick you use punches and kicks. Guard with the R1 button and do a taunt with the R2. This action game is very simple to get into; in fact there is no tutorial or anything to show how to play this game. Most of the time all the 3 bouncers are together to fight.
After each short fight, you are promoted to save. When choosing a character you have to complete that part with him, if he is beaten is game over. And after each part you get to increase the bouncer's abilities from the EXP earned in battles. Meaning that using different players is important if you want to keep changing them. The combat is a bit shallow and the enemy variety consists of enemy soldiers and guards, robots and sometimes guard dogs. The camera is always fixed and there is no way to turn it. Therefore you focus on the enemy in front of you, not knowing what is going on elsewhere. There are times when you don't see your enemies because of this terrible camera, mainly when they are behind crates. With the EXP you gain, you can increase the bouncer you use stamina, attack and defense, and you also gain skills. By holding the L1 button and a button you can perform a special attack. In the instruction the controls of these aren't listed well at all, so you have to discover this yourself.
In the Story mode you can only use the Bouncers. There is also a survival mode and a versus mode to fight in. The main story isn't very long but it's worth playing since you'll unlock several other enemies you fight in the story mode. The survival mode lets you choose any character and fight a number of fights and if you win you move to harder stages until you die. In the versus mode a limit of 4 fighters can fight at once. Here the camera is far too limited.
By getting EXP from battles, the 3 main characters only can increase their skills. The more you upgrade, there is more chance you increase their rank. You start at G, but rises up till S. Thanks to this, the more you play the story mode, the easier it becomes. For example I couldn't beat a certain part with Kou, but on the 3rd time playing the story mode I didn't without many problems. Using each character particular situations can be different from the others. There are 3 multiple endings with each one. There are 3 unlockable characters which you can unlock and fight under some conditions. Anyway, the higher the rank of the bouncers, the characters you use in the survival mode increases each time. The only problem with the survival mode is that it's always the same levels with the same enemies. You can't choose which you play in.
Visually the Bouncer is absolutely stunning. There are must worst looking PS2 games of 2008 and even 2009. Even games which have a great score here on Gamespot. This game passes well as a next-gen looking game, which is quite an achievement and it's the game's strongest point. The character models are awesome and the most realistic even made before. The background environments are a bit repetitive, although these too are bustling and beautiful. Frankly, games with dated graphics are just a lazy excuse, compared with what Squaresoft did 8 years ago.
The sound takes second best here. The music is cheesy but good and the voice acting is merely great. Some repetitive sound effects add in but don't give a bother. The load times are pretty quick and don't give you the chance to read the lines when the load screen appears unless you skim through them. The cutscenes, like the graphics are superb.
The Bouncer is a great fighting game with visual flare and a lot to enjoy. It's just too bad there aren't more ways to enjoy the experience. The story mode maybe short, but it is still fun to replay multiple times and it's worth it. The lack of modes overall is a letdown, the camera can prove to be a problem but for me the Bouncer is a very entertaining, the best and most satisfying I've played in quite a while.
Graphics = 9.4
SUPERB graphics which are quite good even for a 2009 game. Outstanding and realistic character models with just slightly drab and repetitive background designs.
Sound = 8.0
Great voice acting and music although these take second best, not the best available for the platform.
Presentation = 8.5
Marvelous cutscenes and short load times. Cutscenes can be skipped.
Gameplay = 8.4
Some might find the camera atrocious and it is a hinder at first. Unlockable characters are fun to use. The skills don't add much but these are worth.
Story = 8.2
A short but sweet story which is a pleasure for me to play over and over. The several unlockable characters make the story worth trying. The lack of mode is the real problem.
OVERALL = 8.6 / 10
The Bouncer is a visual masterpiece; that aside, it's also a great and immersive fighting game.