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Ranma ½: Hard Battle
© 1992 NCS / Shogakukan Production
Review by Kitsune Sniper
Mix a martial artist that is mortally afraid of cats, a teenager who can't find his way out of a closet, the most perverted man in the entire world, the most socially unadapted teenager in all of Japan, and a person named Pantyhose Taro who on top of his name, turns into a creature who has the body of a yeti, the head of a bull, the wings of a crane, and the tail of an eel, shake thoroughly for more than 50 volumes of manga, serve, and what do you get? The american release of Ranma ½!
This game recieved a not-so-warm welcome in America; though the manga and anime of the same name have admirers all over the world, the game was a serious dissapointment for all of us. Well, at least it has a decent story, and it would fit in any issue of the series. As it turns out, Principal Kunou has set up a tournament, in which the prizes are different for each and every participant. They all have their own reason to fight, for example: Ranma fights in order to be excused of attending his classes; Akane wants to stop all boys from asking her to go on dates; Shampoo wants to prove to Ranma that's she's strong enough for him; Mousse has to defeat everyone that stands in the way of his happiness (at least that's what the fortune teller convinces him of); Ukyo is searching for a sponsor for her restaurant; Genma wants to teach his son a lesson; Gosunkugi fights for Akane's love; and the Gambling King wants to open a casino in Nerima with Principal Kunou's help. Though some parts are confusing (especially Shampoo's introduction) at least they have an excuse to start fighting.
This game is not serious at all. Really. Everything plays out like one of the episodes, and it shows that there were no strings pulled when it came time to design the characters and the backgrounds themselves. Everything is unbelievably well drawn; the character's portraits are very faithfully done, the cinema scenes where the story plays out actually look like they were taken from one of the Anime's episodes, and all the game stages are extremely detailed (I almost expected to see Kasumi or Soun Tendo peek out on Akane's stage). The music is good too, and as said before, it is not serious at all. If you've heard the series' soundtrack, you know what to expect. At least the game's designers learned from their earlier mistakes and included the option of jumping using the D-Pad instead of a button; but using only two attack buttons is still very limiting.
But wait! Not everything's great here: the american market gets screwed again!
For some reason, the japanese version uses the voice actors from the anime itself; this version uses different actors... and the results are disastrous. For starters, all the voices really sound odd; as if the actors themselves had never really spoken japanese in their life. All the speech for the special moves is said out very fast, and you can barely make out what they say. And most voices are really out of place: Ranma sounds like an adult action hero instead of a teenager, Ranma-Chan sounds like a girl instead of a tomboyish girl, Akane sounds like a... duck... and most of the other characters speak like they've drunk too much coffee. The only one that sounds decent is the Casino (Gambling) King. And don't get me started on the cart's packaging... yeesh!
The game's great for playing against a friend; and the 1P mode is very entertaining, but not being able to use Happosai without a debug code is very annoying (^%*). I wouldn't buy it, I would rent it. But if you're a fan of the series, it's a decent buy.