Zatch Bell! Mamodo Fury - PS2 - Preview
This October marks the one-year anniversary of the release of Zatch Bell! Mamodo Battles. The inspired gameplay, unusual, quirky cast, and the bright and colorful graphics led Mamodo Battles down the path to anime game success. Any newcomer could pick it up and start performing combos and special attacks, while genre enthusiasts were taken in by the solid fun factor. If Super Smash Bros. had a kid with Street Fighter and Tobal No. 1 (two men have fathered one baby, so why not?), Mamodo Battles would be the kid.
To celebrate the last Zatch release, Bandai is going to bring you another – Mamodo Fury. Part fighting game, part third-person action, Mamodo Fury is another way game developers are evolving an old genre. Whereas before the playing field was semi-3D, with a helpful side-step evasion move, the new adventure is much more dimensional. This time the worlds are laid out like the locales of a 3D action game, with varying degrees of terrain being just one of environmental differences. Players will be able to move throughout each locale without restrictions. The camera stays behind the character at all times, furthering the action game essence.
But it's not just the perspective that makes Mamodo Fury a potentially one-of-a-kind fighter. Combat is very much a projectile game, leaving the traditional punch-punch-kick combos behind. Projectiles are shot through Zatch, the electrically-overloaded Mamodo. Kiyo can throw a weak punch at nearby enemies, hoping to knock the spell book out of their hands. Successfully completing this task could lead to the completion of the mission, if that's requirement.
Otherwise you're better off striking with Zatch, who can attack in two different ways: (1) through the command of Kiyo or (2) by commanding Zatch himself. When commanding Kiyo, Zatch will fire toward the enemy from wherever he is located. Zatch will do the same when he's under direct control of the player, but the aim is a little more guided from this direction. You can aim with either character, similar (but not entirely like) a third-person action game. The blast should reach the enemy you wish to hit as long as it is being pointed in the direction of that enemy.
Controlling Zatch also gives you the advantage of speed and magic replenishment. Magic is depleted every time to you strike an enemy with something other than Kiyo's fist. As Kiyo, magic doesn't replenish itself very quickly. Zatch causes the magic meter to fill up twice as fast, letting you deal more attacks. He also has the size advantage. By being smaller and lighter, Zatch can run past enemies with a quick, zany "get me out of here!" type of dash. I don't want to say it's girly, but he certainly doesn't come across as being the world's greatest Mamodo while running that way.
Nonetheless, it's a part of his personality, and where would a Zatch Bell! title be without its share of quirky moments?
Mission-based levels are another game element that players will instantly identify with the action genre. One Piece: Grand Adventure had stages where your goal involved something other than "kill the enemy!" Likewise, Mamodo Fury might ask you to protect a building, knock the spell book out of an opponent's hand, or just stay alive. The latter means you won't be able to kill your opponent but must continue evading his attacks in order to keep your health up until the time runs out.
Character interaction and story developments have been given a boost this time around. The story is told through anime stills, voice-overs, and text bubbles that appear over the characters' heads. It's sort of like a digital comic book. No need to turn the page – everything happens automatically.
For newcomers and fans who'd love a recap, the story begins from the very beginning, introducing Zatch, who he is, what he is, and how and he Kiyo came to be partners. They also explain the spell book, and how reading from it causes Zatch to do dangerous and devastating things (like a voodoo doll but better!).
Mamodo Battles had a decent soundtrack, but you'll hardly think so once you hear what the composer of Mamodo Fury has cooked up. The songs are catchy, immersive, and at times strangely reminiscent of the Sonic the Hedgehog games. Regardless of where the composer received his inspiration, the result is a very enjoyable compilation of songs that'll ensure you don't hit the mute button before the game's end.
Mamodo Fury's furious and ferocious gameplay will have many a fighting fan reaching for the controller. It's due this fall, and remember: the next time you see a kid running around the mall, flailing his arms like he’s high on sugar – he could just be a Mamodo running from the enemy.