And another week of reminiscing begins! Last week, I talked about a game that reinvented, then destroyed a genre.
This week, I'll look at one of the first games that I, and maybe some of you, played for the PS2. About 13 years ago.
The Bouncer was released in North America in March of 2001, after seemingly endless teasing by Squaresoft (Square Enix now). You play as a group of three bouncers at a bar called Fate. Sion Barzahd, basically the main character, is the balanced type. Volt Krueger is the strong, slow character, and Kou Leifoh (Steve Blum!) is the speedy one. Together, they must rescue Sion's girlfriend, Dominique, who has been kidnapped by a megacorporation called the Mikado Group.
Along the way, you learn about each characters' motivations and pasts, as well as meet a diverse array of characters, each dressed sillier than the last. One thing that made the game interesting was, you chose which of the three bouncers you wanted to play as before each combat scene. Therefore, you'd see the next cutscene from their point of view, which leads to revelations about each character. This encouraged multiple playthroughs to see the whole story.
And playing through it more than once isn't that bad. It's a pretty basic brawler setup, with light, medium, and heavy attack buttons, plus block. Combos are a big part as well; each character has a healthy assortment of moves. This was one of the first games to use the PS2 controllers' pressure sensitive buttons; a light press of Square would result in a different move than a heavier press. Admittedly, this took some time to get used to, but you could get it down quickly.
Another small wrinkle was a three-way attack that could be triggered by positioning all three characters correctly and pressing the Taunt button. You'd be treated to a neat animation of the three bouncers pummeling one unlucky enemy, with different moves depending on who you were controlling at the time.
There was a long wait for The Bouncer, and when it finally came out, critics met it with a collective "meh." While the story was frequently praised (it is the best part, honestly) most disliked the repetitive brawling gameplay and the short overall length. Basically, it wasn't what Square made it out to be. What did receive universal praise, though, was the graphics.
The Bouncer was probably the best looking console game of its time. These screenshots likely don't do the game justice today, but consider that the game came out more than thirteen years ago. That's somewhere in gaming's Cretaceous period. The game has in fact aged pretty well, in my opinion. There are newer games than The Bouncer that look worse, for sure.
The Bouncer is definitely worth a revisit, especially if you're a Squaresoft/Square Enix fan. It may be short, it may be repetitive, but, like most of the dated games I write about, "she's got it where it counts, kid."
Thanks to Wikipedia and IGN for the images.
As always, hit the comments!
Next week, we'll hit up eBay and see if we can't find a lightsaber.
P.S. I'm always open to requests/recommendations for future Games of The Week! Feel free to post them to my ConTAYct page!
Or here, really, if you want!