Game Review: Suikoenbu / Arcade Hits- Outlaws Of The Lost Dynasty
Release: October 5th, 2010
Developer: Data East
Available Platforms: PlayStation Network
ESRB Rating: T For Teen
With Japanese titles hitting the PlayStation Network now, a whole litany of unknown and obscure titles are going to hit American shores for the first time. Some have had internet notoriety, such as the Cho Aniki series. Others might have made it to America in some form, but are rather forgotten. Suiko Enbu, which translates to Outlaws Of The Lost Dynasty, did get a port to the Saturn and PlayStation from the Arcade in 1996, then known as Dark Legend. The fight for China’s future ten centuries ago is exemplified in this tournament game.
The game’s convoluted translation history can be completely skirted. All you need to know is that this is the PlayStation port of the arcade title, Suikoenbo, in Data East’s Arcade Hits line. Eleven main warriors and a two-form boss character challenge each other in this tournament fighter. Back in 1995, with Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat dominating arcades, everyone wanted their piece of the pie. Data East’s contribution to the world, while most likely not the first, display some of the interesting variations to the fighting genre. Much like the later Guilty Gear titles, this 2D sprite-based fighter zooms in and out of the battlefield. The Mortal Kombat titles dabbled in and out of the weapon-based combat, and Suikoenbu allows players to dramatically discard or lose their weapons (although, thanks to the lack of translation in the title, it took a few rounds to realize that the yellow bar at the bottom was not a Super bar, but a weapon status bar).
If you’ve never played a fighting game, then you need to re-evaluate your gaming life. Fisticuffs is an integral part of any gamer diet. For the fate of China, 11 fighters will face off in a tournament. With six attack buttons, including combinations that allow for everything from special moves and weapon discards to taunts and fake-outs, the characters whittle away at each other until their lives are depleted.
The fight engine is actually decent for the era it’s from. The weapon mechanic is rather well fleshed out, and an entertaining addition (for the time of release) to the genre. More advanced players can accomplish a few good juggles and combos in. This fighting engine is a little more advanced than some from it’s time, but around 1995, fighting games were beginning to experiment and take baby steps with 3D, so the title really pushes the limits of 1995 processing and 2D era fighting.
Visually, the game is an utter mess. It probably looked great a decade and a half ago, on arcade monitors that blurred the pixels together, but blown up on an high-definition LCD screen, and the age shows. This isn’t any railing against sprite graphics; in many cases, classical sprite graphics stand out even mores than the generic polygonal designs of today. The designs are just weak; sure, a Chinese theme stands out, but the characters proportions and style are both weak and uninspired. Admittedly, Street Fighter‘s World Warriors were world warriors, each distinct characters, while Suikoenbu‘s characters boil down to what weapon they use. Admittedly, one or two stand out from the pack, especially the water user and the one guy with the demonic rabbit ally, but they break the pack from the vaguely realistic designs on many of the other characters. Audibly, there is some voice acting (indecipherable if you don’t understand the language), but that and the background music blur into the background.
Suikoenbu easily pales in the comparison of the games of the modern age. Given the opportunity to tackle Super Street Fighter IV or Marvel VS. Capcom 3 and the choice is clear. Still, looking at what it is, a decade-and-a-half old, it’s notable inclusions and additions to the fighting realm have to be revered. In 2010, though, the game remains at best a novelty, and at worst, a $3 purchase for PlayStation Plus members.