In the past, when video game commercials popped up like rare and illicit gems on mainstream television, there was no turning away. You watched intently as Mario soared to the clouds and Sonic speedily captured ring after ring. Outside of catching games in action at the arcade or seeing them advertised in magazines, commercials were once the only ways to see games in actions before purchasing them. To boot, they had to be catchy, funny, and oftentimes plain ol’ weird in order to get people to pay attention. When the PlayStation arrived on the scene, Sony took “weird” to the extreme…er…I’m sorry…I mean XTREME, now with MORE XTREMENESS!!!® Some of their early commercials were downright loopy, even unsettling at times. One of the most memorable in this regard has to be the commercial for Bloody Roar.
I had heard of Bloody Roar from a friend who knew I was a fan of fighting games, but I hadn’t actually seen the game in person. This bizarre commercial didn’t help. I got the basic gist that you could play as people and animals, and that somehow they were intertwined. My only frame of reference then was Killer Instinct Gold, which included a number of animal-based characters, but Bloody Roar appeared to be something much different. Though my curiosity was piqued, there wasn’t much I could do without access to a PlayStation. But the fates didn’t leave me hanging in that regard. Around this time I met my husband and he HAD a PlayStation and he HAD Bloody Roar. (Talk about an all-around WIN!) We quickly bonded over fighting games and Bloody Roar became a favorite.
The tiny glimpses of the games that you got in that wacky commercial were trifles compared to the expanse of the game. Bloody Roar featured a cast of eight characters, each of whom was a “zoanthrope,” which, in the case of the game, meant that they were human-animal hybrids. Each started out as human in matches, and with enough juice in your beast-meter (that’s what I called it, though I’m sure it had a technical name), you could transform them into their animal counterparts. Each character had a set of regular “martial arts” moves as well as special moves, but the specials weren’t particular to human or beast. In fact, I don’t remember there being much advantage of playing in beast mode, except that your characters could do a little more damage. Maybe? Well…they also looked kind of cool. Does coolness count?
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Speaking of looks, Bloody Roar wasn’t hard on the eyes at the time. Sure, everyone looked a bit blocky and polygonal, but faces looked like faces, hands and feet moved like hands and feet, and the beasts looked like the beasts they were supposed to be. The brightly-colored 3D characters moved quite fluidly in their 3D spaces, and the game played very well. That’s not to say I played the game well, because, I mean, c’mon…dat control scheme, amiright? What was that? It was kind of like the developers couldn’t decide on a decent control scheme so they took a few Street Fighter moves, mashed them into Mortal Kombat melee, and then threw in a dash of Tekken stiffness for good measure. But then again, I want all fighting games to simply play like Street Fighter because that’s what I know best. When it came to Bloody Roar, I was a button mashing fiend! (Erm, much to the other player’s dismay.) Plus, each character’s list of moves bordered on maniacal – there was no way I was going to commit to memory each and every combo! No freakin’ way. I mean, just look at the moves for Bakuryu alone!
The only except to this was Long. Him I liked, a lot. His beast was a tough-as-nails tiger. Even though he probably had the most convoluted set of moves, I managed to remember a couple of his combos. This power I readily abused during matches. ::slow evil laugh:: I also got pretty far along in the game with him in single-player mode.
My history with Bloody Roar doesn’t extend much past the first game. I know that at some point we had and played Bloody Roar 2, but it didn’t leave much of an impression. It looked nice and beast mode was cool, but nothing else about it was all that memorable. Yet despite my general lack of interest, Bloody Roar has never strayed far from my fighting game thoughts. In fact, I was more than interested when rumors of Bloody Roar 5 surfaced last year, especially in light of Killer Instinct’s re-release. True that the “beast” gimmick might not suit some, not to mention that complicated moves set, but a new addition to the series, especially in next-gen-now-current-gen graphics, could be pretty damn awesome.
If BR5 is somehow in the works, I’d like to make a request. Could we please quit with the female characters being some sort of cat or rodent or random, unintelligible creature? Huh? Just, don’t. Really. Females run rampant through plenty of other species…oh, what’s that? What about Mitsuko the boar? Well okay, if you like your Rosie the Riveter stereotype on steroids, sure. But yes, you’re right…she’s something of a step in a better direction. But she’s also surrounded by females of said cat/rodent/random creature ilk. Wouldn’t it be cool to play as a female rhinoceros? Or a female peacock? (You just shut up about them being drab.) Or a female cuttlefish??
Wait… … … THAT’S IT! Bloody Roar 5: From the Ocean Depths. Oooo, YES! Game people, do that. DO IT!