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Ranma Hard Battle

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Reviewed by Vampire Hunter D RANMA, arguably one of the best Japanese Anime series to reach American shores, was the first of manga artist Rumiko Takahashi's creations, (including Lum* Urusei Yatsura, Maison Ikkoku, and Ranma) to strut it's stuff on the Super Nintendo. In fact it had several brushes with the system due to it's massive popularity surge in Japan. Half of the games however never made it to America. The first Ranma game for the Super NES did find it's way to the US, but underwent a massive redesign into what is now known as STREET COMBAT. An obvious attempt to cash in on the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat phase that was sweeping America's youth. Changing the characters to give them that generic American tough guy look did little to impress fighting fans as the game flopped miserably. Next they decided to throw caution to the wind, and leave the characters in the second game as they were. Especially since at the time Ranma was beginning to gain popularity in anime circles, (it was even advertised on the Ranma TV series, OVA series, and theatrical movies on video) Ranma Hard Battle was born. Good move, however sales were still disappointing. It wasn't until later that the game would find it's audience and become a collectables. A Ranma RPG game followed, then another fighting game, (which was due to have been released in the US with the American Ranma voice actors to replace the Japanese ones) but neither game was ported to the US. A Ranma puzzle game was also reported to have been given to the Super NES, but even less is known about that title. For newcomers to Ranma I will try to relay history as best as I can. 16 year old Ranma Saotome and his father Genma were on a martial arts (Kenpo) training journey in China, a long ways from their home in Japan. They traveled deep into the mountains to find an ancient (and cursed) training ground called Jusenkyo. There 15'-20' high bamboo stalks hovered over sporadic pools of water, so the idea is for the martial artists to balance on the poles... and basically attack each other, but not get wet. Ranma and his father began their training leaping high uno the poles, after several attacks Ranma managed to knock his old man Genma into one of the nearby springs of water. Suddenly, Genma emerged from the spring as an enormous Panda still in his father's gi and wearing his father's glasses! Catching Ranma off guard Genma takes revenge and knocks Ranma into a different spring. When Ranma re-emurges from this spring however Ranma is even more shocked than before as he opens his gi to discover that he had become a girl! From then on a hot water would return the two to father and son, but a splash of cold water changes them to Panda and Daughter! Suddenly many bizarre people show up all claiming to have a connection with Ranma, most want Ranma's blood or his hand in marriage or sometimes even both!!!

Graphics: 3 out of 5

Graphics aren't this games flaw as the characters enter rounds sometimes looking even better than they do in the anime series themselves. There are a few exceptions however as the colors of the character outfits don't quite match the shows designs. Also certain little nuances like Ukyo's face doesn't look very clear, her eyes blend in far too much with her skin. Of course their not quite DKC graphics, but this was before such capability existed for the Super NES. So comparing it with say Super Metroid, they are clear yet there is some noticeable over usage of color And there are no eye popping special effects that get the maximum use out of the Super NES processor. Also some of the backgrounds have nothing to do with the show at all, while others have a lot to do with it but seem to be inappropriate. For instance if the game takes place in Japan, why do I have to fight such-n-such person thousands of miles away in China? The character animations are nice although slightly choppy.

Music and Sound: 2 out of 5

The music is difficult to appreciate, especially if you are a fan of the show and are expecting to hear something familiar along those lines. It is quality for it's stereo effect and such, but sometimes I wonder if they just slap anything on there just to get the project done. The music fits with each stage and can build some tension, but I wouldn't want to listen to this junk on a CD. The sound effects are slightly believable and fitting, and it has some well captured if poorly directed voice samples. Although again obviously they even try to make the game sound like Street Fighter, (which I think is pushing it, I mean there is a difference between influencing and just plain copying! For instance why does Ranma have to sound like Ken or Ryu from Street Fighter 2?). I should mention that the voice samples although changed and done mostly in English, are not those from the series.

Game Challenge: 2.5 out of 5

The problem I had with Hard Battle was that I had no problem with it. Even if you push the difficulty up to maximum you can still manage to beat the game in one player mode within an hour rather simply, without knowing any special moves. This is disappointing but typical of the early fighting games.

Game Play-Fun: 3.5 out of 5

The two player mode of course enhances the fun, but even in one player it's nice to be in control of some of your favorite anime characters. And they were nice enough to eliminate all the filler characters, and basically focus on the ones most directly associated with Ranma. Learning the special moves on the other hand doesn't seem so interesting once you find out what the move actually is. It's like, "Was that it?" or even, "That's the same move as without the controller motion!".


The only frustration I came across was that I just wish anime to game translations would be more smooth, (like Vampire Hunter D), and would have more to them, like um, uh... wait a minute I'll think of one! No, I guess I can't.

Replayability: 2 out of 5

Unlocking Pantyhose as an playable character was slightly amusing. That can be done once you beat the game with an one character. Doing that adds a different boss character for the tragically named young man, other than that and the special moves, and that nice feeling you get when one world meets another... I never wanted to play this game ever again unless in 2 player mode.

Game Value: 5 out of 5

At Funcoland this game has recently gone down to $9.99, I think that is a very decent and fair price for a rare anime fighting game. Dragon Ball GT which is probably about as good as Ranma Hard Battle, is currently going for $99.99. Under those circumstances, Ranma is more than worth the difference. Especially since it's still pretty hard to find.

Overall: 2.5 out of 5

It's not quite a Capcom fighter, but it's not as patronizing as a Mortal Kombat. Worth playing once if you're a Ranma fan, worth keeping if your a fanatic.

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