If you want chaos, then you have come to the right place. Power Stone 2 is an arcade port for Sega Dreamcast. This multiplayer fighter was released by Capcom in 2000 to very positive reviews. Its claim to fame was the outlandish characters (who are pretty racist), destructible environments, and overall chaotic game play.
We grabbed our friend Bones and played through Power Stone 2. It wasn’t long before we were shouting out things like, “I am missing two stones! Where are my stones?” Did the game live up to our nostalgia for crazy chaos?
The game has four main modes. There is a two character story mode, a four player story mode, and an unpredictable storyline mode called “adventure”. Like other fighters, Soul Calibur and Smash Bros., the story single player mode is not the main highlight. Story modes serve as a way to play single player and unlock maps, items, and characters. Power Stone 2 is not much different. The centerpiece is the four player “original” mode. Here is the melee, the free for all. This is what we focused on when we played through the game.
The first impression is how dated everything looks. This is not surprising for a game several generations ago. The selection screen kept giving us flashbacks of Mario Kart 64. That is not necessarily a bad thing. I normally would not include a selection screen in a review, but there were several glaring issues with it. One issue was being able to cycle through the characters in only one direction. Miss them and you had to cycle through it all over again. The bigger issue is that any player can change any other player’s choices. The game almost encourages players to be a jerk by changing another person’s character before jump starting the game. There is no reason to include this option other than lazy design.
The character choices and maps are limited compared to other fighters at the time, and especially now. Characters are diverse and essentially racial stereotypes. Fat Italian chef with ginormous overbite? Check. White blonde blue eyed British fighter pilot? Check. Half dressed exotic gypsy fortuneteller? Yeah, you get the point. Character design was lacking imagination.
The maps are a mixed bag. Each map has a three dimensional area to fight in. The locales are interesting and best of all, interactive. Now, I must admit, when it comes to Smash Bros. I am a purist for levels to not mess up the epic battles. Here though the fun is the constant movement and engagement of the environment. Cacti are able to be ripped out and hit opponents with. A Sphinx emerges and wrecks you. It is another aspect of the game to be utilized and avoided. Smash Bros fails by having the movement more difficult than the fighting, where as Power Stone has the environment avoidable yet change player’s strategies. Most of the levels have a mini game in the middle as a challenge for all the players. In the map we dubbed Indiana Jones, a giant boulder chases everyone and the first two players to make it to the door survive unscathed. In the flying ship it breaks apart and everyone fights for umbrellas before hitting the ground. Other fighters’ mini games are obnoxious. Here they feel like a perfect fit and a break from trying to focus on everything in the 3D world (as it can all get you!).
The only negative I found with the maps were the occasional perspective issues. When using a pseudo 3D environment something will inevitably block your view. When this happens you are going to be in for a very rough time. Imagine being at a concert and you are stuck behind a giant steel beam. It might be momentary, but in a fast paced fighting game an obstructed view is agonizing.
The ultimate focus of Power Stone 2 is the power stones. WOW! Imagine that. Score a great hit on an opponent and they will spit up a stone. They should have just called this Kidney stone the game. Collect three stones and you change into your super power version. Your attacks are incredible and you have a finishing move. This gameplay mechanism works well as there is a constant struggle to get the stones and knock them out of others. Usually the person who collects the most stones is going to win.
There are other items in the game, lots of them actually. These items range from guns to skate boards and fans. Each item has its own unique effects. They certainly can provide an advantage, but nothing competes with getting all the stones.
I remembered this game very fondly. I loved the fast chaotic gameplay. As we played it again it became clear that it is the kind of game that paved the way for others, but ultimately does not live up to the nostalgic experience. It is still a fun game, but unless you are dying to relieve your childhood or see a founder of current Smash Bros. and PS All-Stars Battle Royale then it is not worth it. This is one gem that has sadly lost its luster.