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The Bouncer

Developer: DreamFactory | Publisher: Square EA
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 03/05/01 | Genre: Action

The Bouncer is one of Squaresoft's first domestic game for the PlayStation 2. Like past fighter/RPG hybrids, this one again fails to excel in either genre. Featuring incredible graphics and a decent story, The Bouncer tries hard to be a good game but ends up being one that ultimately falls flat.

Mikado, a corrupt business organization, kidnaps Sion's girlfriend from a bar called Fate. Sion and his bouncer buddies go off in pursuit of Mikado agents to rescue his girl and stop a diabolical world domination plot. Depending on which character the player uses in each fight, the story changes slightly based on the point of view of the character. Each character has his own background, past, and agenda. Thus, while the first play through may take two hours, you really need to play it at least 3 times to see the whole story.

The graphics are the strongest part of this game. Sharp and smooth textures are the best I've ever seen on the new console. Dramatic effect and expressions are of the expected Square quality. The movements during the movie scenes of the people and various animal foes are very well done, adding sense of realism not seen in games before. The sound is pretty good too, mostly in terms of the sound effects. The game features various roars, gunfights, and chase sequence sounds.

The music during the fights is not much to listen to though, being mostly repetitive and forgettable. The voice acting is pretty decent, with options to hear the dialogue in English or Japanese (with subtitles.) The Bouncer's gameplay basically flows from a movie sequence to a short fight segment followed by another movie sequence until the end of the game. Each character has basically the same attack pattern consisting of high, middle, and low attacks with blocks. The harder you push a button the stronger the attack is supposed to be. However, for typical button mashing gameplay, this feature doesn't seem to have much effect.

After each fight, depending on what character you choose, the player gains BP points which act as the experience system. These are distributed between Health, Defense, Power, and Special moves categories. Most of the time, though, the points are spent on the basic character parameters without ever really needing special moves. Once a game is finished, you can use the built-up character to play again and use the points towards the special moves. This is all mostly unnecessary since you can play through most of the game by using the same attack over and over again. The difficulty level is nonexistent until the player reaches the final boss.

At that point, the game takes a decided jump in difficulty, which requires the player to take a lot of time to figure out a decent strategy. Another problem is the game's pathetic excuse for AI. Most enemies just stand there to get hit, only occasionally attacking. If that wasn't bad enough, your allies are even worse. There's no way to control them, which means they just stand around while you get killed or -- even worse -- they'll kill off an enemy that you spent most of your time trying to kill.

The result of that being that you lose the BP points you'd have gained by killing the enemy yourself. A multiplayer option in the game's Story Mode would have been a big plus. Overall, each fight segment is repetitive and boring. Gameplay, as a whole, is weak and feels like it was added an afterthought to the in-game movies. Sure, there are versus and battle royal modes, but with the lame gameplay, who wants to play those?

The front of The Bouncer's box says "Play the Action Movie." That's all this game is - an interactive action movie. As a regular movie, it'd be great and would deserve a rental. As a game, though, it shouldn't even be sold.

By Jonathan Halwani - 08/01/00
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Screenshots for The Bouncer

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