Rings of Saturn. Issue #12. “Last Bronx” in LESS STREETS OF RAGE AND MORE WEEP WITH RAGE

I don’t know what to think about this game. I wouldn’t go as far to call it a bad game, but I certainly have no intention of ever playing it again. I don’t know if those two facts contradict one another or not. It’s a feeling I’m somewhat familiar with when it comes to pro wrestling. There are some pro wrestling bouts which I know are technically good matches but I’m just fine watching them only once. Shawn Michaels Vs Bret Hart at Wrestlemania XII would be an immediate example. I don’t think anyone could argue that the actual wrestling in that match isn’t to a high quality, but I really wouldn’t want to sit down and spend an hour with it again anytime soon. The thought of watching it fills me with trepidation. I have the same feeling I’d get before writing a long essay or starting work on a particularly big jigsaw puzzle. It’s not like I’m actually going to hate doing these activities, but I have to psyche myself up to do them because I know there’ll be time consuming and possibly a bit of a slog. So yeah, I’m not sure about how to feel about Last Bronx. I’m hoping the answer will come to me as I write this week’s feature.

Picture of www.theoldcomputer.com

Hybrid Butt Kicking

If I had to describe Last Bronx, I would say it reminded me of Soul Blade crossed with Virtua Fighter. Each fighter has a weapon, just like Soul Blade, but the game uses the 3 button system seen in Virtua Fighter. This means that it doesn’t have Soul Blade’s “free block” mechanic and that you have to press a button to block as opposed to just walking backwards. Now this is just my own personal bias coming through here, but I really think the “free block” system is vastly superior to having an actual button for blocking. My reasoning is twofold. Firstly, it frees up a button that you can use for other things and secondly it makes the game more fluid as you don’t have to worry as much about blocking and can instead concentrate more on offensive fighting. I do understand why some like it of course. It adds a different layer of strategy to the game as you just can’t count on the game giving you a block willy nilly. However, what I find is that it makes the game a lot slower and more deliberate, which I just don’t like. Again, this is more a matter of personal preference, but it made playing Last Bronx somewhat of a chore for me.

It’s a shame because Last Bronx has so much to it that I like. I find the 8 characters on offer to be both interesting and versatile. The different weapons really do make every character feel unique and each character is also visually interesting. However, the fighting mechanics are so laborious and stilted that after a while it just feels like you are controlling a human shaped tank. Some of the bigger characters also move even slower, which makes them essentially stagnant considering the already deliberate pace of the game. It doesn’t help that the game itself is very difficult and thusly time consuming to complete. Each character has their own anime style ending video, but I could only manage to complete the game with one character, and that was after 30 minutes of play, with each round being a maximum of 30 seconds. That meant a lot of continues were used. Probably more than any other fighting game I’ve played outside of maybe the original Street Fighter II, which was down more to the fact that I was about 8 years old at the time.

Picture Courtesy of www.segasaturn.co.uk

If you find this Arse, please hand it back to a Mr. M Fitzgerald of Stockport, UK

I’m not being facetious when I say that it took me roughly 10 minutes to win a round in this game. Yes, you read that right; it took me 10 chuffing minutes to win a ROUND. Not a fight, a ROUND. And this was on the games easiest difficulty! I shudder to think what would have happened had I played the game on hard mode. It doesn’t bare thinking about. I would have probably drowned in my own tears, tears of muffled frustration. Now I know I’m hardly an elite gamer, but don’t you think easy mode should at least be conquerable by even a mediocre player? I happen to think it should and I’m sorely tempted to mark the game down for this. I know some will snort in derision that I would criticise a game for its difficulty, but I think the whole point of having easy, normal and hard modes is that one is easy, one is normal and one is hard. I mean, that’s usually how most games tend to approach it anyway. This game is honestly just differing levels of hard, and I don’t think that’s right. I’m sure some will retort with “you’re just terrible at games!”, but my riposte to that would be that I could eventually complete the game, but the process of doing so was so arduous that I didn’t even want to struggle through doing it again. I would also add that I completed both Virtua Fighter and Soul Blade without anywhere near as much difficulty, so it’s not lack I’m 100% cack at the genre.  It really shouldn’t take 30 minutes to win 8 fights, with 30 second rounds. To me it feels like artificial difficulty to pad out the game, and I think the game should be criticised for that.

Graphically, the game looks nice for 1997 and the fighting stages are well designed recreations of typical city based fighting venues. In one of those possible “lost in translation” moments, the stages have names like “Naked Airport” and “Lust Subway” which I can only guess makes sense to the Japanese somehow. The in game music is punchy and fun to listen to, which is good because you’ll likely be hearing each stage theme a lot as you toil to the final fight with the nefarious Red Eye. Overall I liked the games atmosphere and the story of rival gangs being brought together to fight in a dystopian Tokyo, though hardly original, is done very well.

So I’m left with a quandary here. I didn’t actually enjoy playing this game, but I liked absolutely everything else about it. Difficulty nuts may love this game, the same way spice nuts like going to an Indian restaurant and ordering a Phaal, but I think anyone else is going to find it very frustrating after a while. I certainly didn’t enjoy it enough to persevere any more than I did. I played it enough to write this feature and that was plenty for me. It’s not like other games in the Rings of Saturn series where I’ll pick them up and have another go down the line. I think the only way I’ll ever play this again would be if I had a friend over and we went on the multiplayer. That’s about it.

Picture Courtesy of www.hardcoregaming101.net

It’s an ending, that’s enough

Is Last Bronx a good game? I honestly don’t know. It’d be a very difficult one to score I think. Some people swear by it and even prefer it to Virtua Fighter. It’s not overly expensive for a retro game but it’s not particularly cheap either, so if you do have a Saturn and are thinking of picking it up, I’d recommend taking a look at the game footage below and researching it to see if it’s worth the purchase or not. I picked it up half on a whim and half on hearing good things about it, but then again I have this feature that I need games for. If you’re just looking to fill out your Saturn collection you likely won’t have that reason to fall back on.

As always, I’ll post some game footage below.

Thanks for reading

Peace Out

This game was purchased from Retro Reload in Stockport. You can find out more about the store by clicking HERE

You can view footage of the game on YouTube, courtesy of Retro Core, by clicking HERE

Looking for other things to read on the site? Why not try these excellent articles?

Kane reviews Until Dawn HERE

We all talk about what we’ve been playing over the past week HERE

And you can Meet The Pikmin with James Haxell HERE

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