- Rival Schools -




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Rival Schools - January 5, 2000 by Sungam
Game:Rival SchoolCompany:Capcom

Ahh... been a while since I last reviewed a game. Those of you who've read my past reviews might be able to guess what made me come back: The Impact! I'm a longtime fan of Capcom and their work so naturally this whole Impact deal caught my attention in a jippy. Some of Capcom's latest (and maybe best) arcade games popping up on your desktop... it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. ^_^ It should be noted that my review is heavily based on the Playstation version of the game since Impact is a bit too slow on my computer. Of course I checked the Impact version too to make sure that the two games didn't have any noticeable differences. Anyway, I won't bother you with my incessant ramblings any longer. So much for introductions, here is the review!
As far as graphics go, Capcom has yet to disappoint me. Sure, characters are blocky and the backgrounds aren't exactly interesting... but Capcom, as always, focused on what's important, the action on-screen. Each character's moves are superbly animated and flow seemlessly enough for me to believe those were real people (did they use motion capturing?). This is, in my opinion, easiest to experience while playing with Kyosuke. After you've got a feeling for his kicks they'll be swarming all over the place while still looking very natural (assuming Kyosuke is extremely athletic of course). Special effects are also very well done. Those of you who like to see characters summon fireballs into the fist of their hand before throwing them (I know I like 'em) will definitly appreciate Batsu's Team Technique. As I staed above, the backgrounds aren't particularly interesting in most cases, but they are well done quality-wise, just not all that special. As for the blocky characters, this isn't all that much of a problem for those who aren't hooked on the graphics in Tekken 3 and SoulBlade (to name two of the best looking fighting games I've personally experienced). The fast paced action (slow paced on my computer, unfortunately) shouldn't even give you a chance to notice it at all.
The cutscenes have some very well drawn, manga style, characters, which is a great plus for me as I love manga and anime. The cutscenes do get a bit boring though as only still images are used, making it very repetitive (if you've heard the dialogue before). The cutscenes also have spoken dialogue (Note: I'm not sure about this as I'm having problems with sound in Impact, but it was there in the Playstation version...). Fortunately they kept the original japanese dialogue even in the american version, avoiding irritating dubs. The dialogue is, of course, translated using subtitles. Most voices fit perfectly with their characters, at least if you're used to anime. A few voices really do get on your nerves though (shut up Tifanny!).
The music is, like the backgrounds, nothing of particular interest. It's not bad as in it doesn't bother you. In some cases it actually helps increase the "adrenaline" level just a bit, which is good, but all in all you won't want to buy a soundtrack for this game. Same goes for the in-fight speech. Nothing bad about it and it does help you get into the battle, but it's not like you'll be screaming japanese words each time you're performing a special move (as I have been accused of doing while in a close battle of Street Fighter 2 ^_^).
The gameplay is simple, yet effective. Even a beginner can do some serious damage just by randomly using the four attack buttons but there's enough detail for experienced players to showcase their talents with Tardy Counters, Super Attacks, and Air Combos. An interesting twist in Rival Schools are the Team Attacks. Like in the Street Fighter vs. games you have the ability to select two characters (actually you're forced to it...) whom can perform the so called Team Attacks when your charge bar is at 2 or above. These attacks are easily the best looking in the game and without a doubt the most effective. Unfortunately the ability to change characters at any time during the fight as you could in SF vs. is not available in Rival Schools... however, you can change which character to use in-between rounds except for the final battle (the hidden one) in which only your main character is allowed to fight and you just select who should be his supporting character (this feature is only available in story mode which you can only access if both your characters are from the same school). If you're used to the Street Fighter games you won't have any problems adapting to the Rival Schools special moves as they are, for the most part, identical.
When it comes to replay value, it really depends on you. Some gamers (like myself) can keep coming back to this type of game forever even though they've seen everything there is to see, while some get bored after the first three rounds (at the speed Impact is running, I can't blame you in this case). It does have a positive aspect in the large amount of characters, 14 to be exact (there might be hidden characters in the aracde version as there were in the Playstation version, in which there were 5 plus a few different outfits, but I haven't found a way to unlock them) and the wide range of Team Attacks, which boosts the replay value just a bit. The story is also fairly interesting, at least more so than most other fighting games, so you might want to play it through with each school.
I've noted a few times how slow it was in Impact on my AMD k6-2 380MHz with 64MB S-DRAM and a Voodoo3 3000, but besides that it's just about perfect emulation. I did have some problems with the sound but I think that's a problem with my computer as I have problems in all games under Impact. I used the Glide driver version 1.1 without a single graphics glitch and running somewhere between 20-45 FPS. All in all this game is one of the better fighting games by Capcom. It has that special Street Fighter "touch" while still being quite original with teams and the likes. An interesting game and definitly worth the download, if your computer can handle it, in my opinion.
Play Control
Replay Value

Screen Shots

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1999 EmuViews