Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Finished: March 1, 2014
I have always heard great things about the Sega Dreamcast. It is an interesting piece of hardware that deserves its place in history, especially how it pioneered online gaming. I also enjoy the fact that the memory cards, called a Visual Memory Unit (VMU), has a display that works as a second screen, sometimes allowing the player an option for mini-games, like the Chao Garden in Sonic Adventure.
When I looked into purchasing a Dreamcast, I found out a lot of popular titles were already available on other platforms. For example, I already had Sonic Adventure DX and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle on the Nintendo GameCube, which were superior ports from the Dreamcast; Crazy Taxi was also available on the PlayStation 2 and GameCube; Jet Set Radio (as well as the aforementioned games) was for sale on PlayStation Network. There were very few games that were still exclusive to the Dreamcast.
The two titles that stuck out to me were Shenmue and Power Stone. Shenmue (for better or worse) introduced the concept of quick time events and had a stellar storyline. I have yet to play it, but it is on my list. The other game, Power Stone, was described to me as a Sega Super Smash Bros. Anyone who knows me knows I love me some Super Smash Bros., so that was an easy sell! I purchased the game and tried it right away!!
Except I didn’t have one of those nifty VMUs. I decided to wait until I could order one to play the game. In the meantime, I played Dead or Alive on a demo disc I received with the system.
Once my VMU came in the mail, I tried to play Power Stone. Operative word in that sentence is ‘tried.’ While trying to play the game, my Dreamcast recreated that scene in Indiana Nope and the Temple of Nope where Harrison Ford can’t get his Dreamcast to read a disc. It’s borderline scary when life imitates art…
I checked the disc, and it looked perfect. No scratches or imperfections at all! I contacted the original seller, and she told me it worked when she had it, though she was nice enough to give me a refund when I returned it to her. Side note, she messaged me later saying it no longer worked for her, either! I really wanted to play some Sega Smash Stone, so I ordered another copy of the game online. This one was a little banged up, but it played. I guess that’s what’s important…
Just to help anyone else encountering the same issue, I researched the issue and found that if the disc has been buffed, the Dreamcast may not be able to read it anymore. Not sure of the validity of the claim, but rather safe than sorry.
Power Stone is a 3D arena fighter, meaning the player has free reign over the environment. Players are able to move any direction, picking up items to hurl at their opponents. This certainly gives an upper hand to the one throwing or pushing the object, but I had some difficulty getting it to go where I needed it to go. There are also standard attacks, though let’s be honest, the first thing you want to do is pick up a stone block and chuck it at your adversary as soon as ACTION lights the screen!
The star attraction is the titular Power Stone. Both characters start out with one, and a third randomly appears on the screen. If the player manages to take all three gems, they transform and wail on the opposition. This sounds like fun, but the computer knows to go after these first. Let me tell you, being on the receiving end of that assault is not fun in the least. Imagine playing Super Smash Bros., but the computer gets to use their Final Smash every twenty seconds. That’s Power Stone!
Aside from clunky controls, each of the characters has Japanese voices. I’m not sure why this was true of most games around that era. Dead or Alive and Soul Calibur both did the same thing on the Dreamcast, so maybe that was just its thing. Hearing the characters shout every few seconds and the announcer yelling “Oh, NO!!!” just as often gets old very fast.
I played as Falcon, a British dude that doesn’t English. You can tell he’s British because he wears the Union Jack on his sleeve. His special ability from gathering the Power Stones is he can transform into Iron Falcon. His secondary ability is losing. He is comparable to the Mario of the franchise: the average to which all others are compared. Except he loses.
Compared to other fighters at the time, there are a limited amount of characters, starting with eight. Each of them are fought in an arcade fashion. The early fights almost insult you with how easy it is, though the difficulty ramps up quickly. From what I saw, I was on a Medium difficulty setting, and it took me about an hour or so to get by the Arcade mode. That shouldn’t happen.
I’m sure there’s a story. I just don’t know what it is. Good thing I excel at making things up.
Falcon was a young chap who lived with his mother, father, and Weird Aunt Betty. They were the ideal family with not a care in the world, except when Weird Aunt Betty would order Lo Mein at the Sizzler. The ensuing scene would often end with cops getting called. One day, Falcon was playing with his toy planes when he realized his parents went missing. Falcon searched the house, finding a ransom note demanding a “bourzillon dollars” for the return of Mr. and Mrs. Falcon’s Parents. Falcon immediately recognized the handwriting as that of Weird Aunt Betty, and when he confronted her, she insisted he pull her finger. It was about this time that Falcon figured this life was less than ideal and decided to run away and punch people in the face for a living.
Yeah, that sounds right.
The game was a little too clunky for me to completely enjoy it. I was extremely confused at how to perform certain moves, and once I completed the Arcade mode with Falcon, I had no desire to play as the other characters (which is why I’m labeling this as At Least I Tried). This was definitely not the Super Smash Bros. equivalent I anticipated. Shenmue still holds hope to justify my purchase of a Dreamcast…
I am not the biggest fan of arcade fighters. Perhaps there is some appeal to be found by fans of the genre, but the gem transformations make it too one-sided to enjoy the game. The sequel has a four player mode, but based on the first game in the series, I passed on acquiring that game.
My arbitrary score based on nothing is 5 out of 11.