The [i]Bloody Roar[/i] series has seen six games, most of them being on the Playstation consoles. The Gamecube and Xbox have both seen separate titles, although both were mostly ports of [i]Bloody Roar 3[/i] for the Playstation 2. [i]Bloody Roar 4[/i] brings the series back to the Playstation brand of consoles, bringing with it new characters and game play tweaks. It should be noted though that the [i]Bloody Roar[/i] series has never really done anything to stand out in the crowd of greater fighters like [i]Dead or Alive 3[/i] or [i]Virtua Fighter 4[/i], and [i]Bloody Roar 4[/i] does little to change that.
When you first look at [i]Bloody Roar 4[/i], you may think it looks just like all the other fighters. The graphics are certainly as nice as those seen in fighters like [i]Virtua Fighter 4[/i]. If anything, they may be better. It’s when you begin to play the game where things go sour, as you will soon find out that the game play is pretty simplistic. The triangle performs kicks while the square performs punches, and the X button guards. To add to the simplicity, it is very easy to button mash you way through matches. In fact, you can have it on the highest difficulty and still mash buttons while being successful.
The [i]Bloody Roar[/i] series does have a trait that makes it stand out against other high caliber fighters. The twist in [i]Bloody Roar 4[/i] is that each character can turn into a humanoid animal at the press of the circle button. There’s everything from a werewolf to a were-rabbit. After the transformation, a special move button replaces the transformation button. One of the new features in the game is that your beast meter now doubles as an alternative life bar, whereas in previous installments, it slowly depleted until you were transformed back into a human. Your actual life bar can only be touched while in your human form, whereas the beast life runs out while in beast mode. You can transform at anytime as long as you have some juice left in your beast meter, which creates a problem.
A player can simply enter their beast form at the start of a match, since the meter is already charged up. The other player will then have to reduce his beast meter, then his human meter, then his beast meter before he can finish him off. It doesn’t help that every time an opponent strikes you in human form, your beast meter increases a couple notches. In short, a player could easily just keep transforming over and over again, adding to the other players frustration. While this may make for longer matches, it also doesn’t help that a lot of characters are much stronger than others. It is very easy for a player to transform and assault the other player, ripping a huge chunk of his life away even before five seconds have passed. Another problem is that while the beast forms are supposed to make [i]Bloody Roar 4[/i] stand out from your everyday fighter, while in their beast form the characters really don’t do anything that they couldn’t do in human form. The only thing that’s different is that your attacks are more powerful, but aside from that, all you really see is more punches and kicks.
The characters in [i]Bloody Roar 4[/i] look more suited to a midnight rave rather than fighting as animals in disguise. Veterans of the [i]Bloody Roar[/i] series will remember many faces. Alice the were-rabbit, Rakuryu the were-mole, and the rest of the old crew make their reappearance. The new characters, which are the most obvious of the updates, are nice, but they show the developers are running out of ideas. Reiji transforms into a crow, while Ryoho doesn’t even transform at all, but rather his child companion Mana transforms into a fox that does little damage. Nagi though doesn’t even transform into an animal, but rather some sort of succubus. It’s not really known why they chose a non-animal form for her, seeing as how there are dozens of animals left in the animal kingdom to turn into humanoid form. It could just be that they are trying to add sexuality to the series with her bizarre sword infatuation and revealing outfit, although Jenny seems to have completed that objective with her prostitute-ish appearance.
[i]Bloody Roar 4[/i] contains all the modes you would come to find in any other fighter of its kind. There’s arcade, where you play through ten stages with a few short cut scenes which have very horrid voice acting, survival mode which pits you against and endless mass of fighters with only one bar of life, and the other standard modes. The new mode, called “career mode,” is rather strange, and at the same time, a little convoluted. After choosing a character, you play through a series of grid-like maps. Each circle is a random fight with a character, which is really no different from the arcade mode, the only difference being that most of the fights are only one round. As you win fights, the game rewards you with DNA points, as well as new attacks, speed, power, beast, and other power-ups. This lets you add them onto your character, and creates a sort-of custom character, which you can use in any other mode. The problem with this is that you can easily over power your character, taking out enemies in a few punches. Not that it matters, since it is just as easy to assault them with the default characters anyway, so there is really no incentive to play through career mode, especially since it seems like an endless connection of circular grid-lines.
[i]Bloody Roar 4[/i] does have its good points though. Graphically, the game looks great. Animations are done very well and it looks like a pretty decent fighter graphics-wise. The concept of morphing into animals is rather intriguing; however, the feeling wears off fast once you figure out that you can easily button mash your way through the game. Strangely, the developers have added in a gushing blood effect, where when you hit an opponent (or vice-versa), blood will flood out by the gallon. This obviously gives the game its Mature rating, but in reality, [i]Bloody Roar 4[/i] doesn’t really do anything that Teen rated games don’t do already. If anything, [i]Bloody Roar 4[/i] is tamer than most Teen rated games on the market. If you look past the gushing blood, the game is actually pretty clean.
The sounds and music are fairly mediocre, like the title itself. The music is really nothing special. The main menu music sounds like heavy metal, while most of the levels have calmer sounding music. The voice acting, as mentioned above, is completely atrocious. Most of the characters sound like they have no life in them whatsoever, and usually when someone tries to be clever, it just sounds awkward. Sometimes you may not be able to understand what a person says, while other times their voices come off as a little creepy. To add to that, the English is dubbed over the Japanese lip sync, so not only does the character’s dialogue not fit their lips, but there will usually be long pauses after something is said in order for the Japanese lip sync to catch up.
[i]Bloody Roar 4[/i] is a pretty simple fighter that, unsurprisingly, doesn’t do anything to break the mediocre streak the series is known for. The excessive button mashing really hurts the game to the point where even unskilled players can complete the entire game easily. The A.I. is pretty faulty, and even on higher difficulties it can be easy to beat, although it tends to block way too much. The idea of people transforming into killer animals with razor sharp claws, long horns, and swords for arms sounds like a good concept, but the makers of the [i]Bloody Roar[/i] series just can’t seem to blend it into a quality title.