Written by Paul Monopoli
System: Super Nintendo
By: Rumic Soft
NOTE: This review contains images from both the game & the anime.
The history of Ranma fighting games is a bit of a tale. The first game which is known in some fan circles as “Neighbourhood Combat” was released in the US under the rebadged title of “Street Combat”. The game was already decidedly average & the fact that the US version removed all the characters we were familiar with & replaced them with generic fighters didn’t help matters. Sometimes these games are a little more enjoyable if you’re familiar with the characters you’re controlling.
The second game Ranma 1/2 Hard Battle was released in the US & Europe as a Ranma game & with all the Ranma characters present & correct. The problem is that the game was, once again, pretty ordinary. Did they get the formula right with the 3rd & final fighting game on the SNES? Let’s find out…
If you’re a fan of the series all your favourites are here including:
– Ranma, boy type – A confident martial artist who has a fear of cats
– Ranma, girl type – The form Ranma takes when splashed with cold water
– Akane Tendo – Ranma’s first promised fiancee from birth
– Tatewaki Kuno – Has a thing for both Akane & Ranma’s female form
– Ryoga Hibiki – Becomes Akane’s pet pig P-Chan when wet. Loves Akane
– Ukyo Kuonji – Ranma’s second promised fiancee
– Shampoo – Ranma’s accidental third fiancee. Turns into a cat when wet.
– Kodachi Kuno – Kuno’s sister & Ranma’s self appointed fourth fiancee
– Genma Saotome – Ranma’s father. Turns into a panda when wet
– Mousse – Loves Shampoo & sees Ranma as a rival. Turns into a duck when wet
Those are your staple Ranma characters. Added to the mix we have:
– Miss Hinako Ninomiya – Ranma, Akane & Ukyo’s teacher. Appears in 2 OVAs, one of which being the 2008 Ranma special. She has the appearance of a little girl due to an illness she had as a child. Thanks to a modified metabolism she can use the “Happo 5 yen-setsu” technique which can absorb an opponent’s Ki. She uses the stolen Ki to turn into an adult but it’s only temporary. She can also quickly blast the energy she steals back with her “Happo no yen coin return” technique. In the game she appears wearing her manga outfit rather than her more revealing anime outfit.
– Mariko Konjo – The martial arts cheerleader from rival school Seishyun High, who appeared in the 2 part episode: “Bring It On: Love as a Cheerleader” towards the end of the series. Whenever she cheers for her team they always win. It could have something to do with her using her cheering equipment as weapons to take out the opposing team… In the anime she appears as a brunette, but in this game she has been made blonde for some reason. However she is shown with her normal brown hair in the manual & rear box art.
– Herb – A character who never appeared in the anime, but had a large storyline in the manga. Herb is the leader of the Musk Dynasty. Like Ranma he turns into a female when splashed. The story in the manga gives him 2 henchmen called Lime & Mint. Unlike most of Ranma’s rivals Herb does not hesitate to attempt to kill Ranma when he gets the chance.
Enough of that. If you want to know about the show & the characters I recommend checking out Harley’s site: http://www.furinkan.com
Upon hitting Start you see 4 options:
– Story – Allows you to pay through the story mode with your selected character
– VS Mode – 2 Player one on one fighting
– Tag Match – 2 Player tag match where you choose 2 characters each
– Options – Yeah… options… enough said…
All characters are available except Herb, but he can be accessed with a cheat. Hold down L & R before the character selection screen comes up according to GameFAQs. Let’s try it:
What do you know it works!! Thanks GameFAQs!!
The story is a simple one. A cat statue that can makes wishes come true is on offer & all the characters must battle each other to see who can win it. Everyone wants it for their own reasons so it’s a no holds barred battle between friends & rivals to see who can win the coveted prize. The story has a sting in the tail (of course) but I’ll leave that for you to find out for yourselves. When you use the above code for Herb you will go straight to a battle with no storyline.
Right from the word go you can feel the difference between this & the previous 2 games in the series. The character sprites are larger & more solid than the first game & unlike Hard Battle you can press Up to jump. One of my biggest complaints with Hard Battle is that you had to push a button to jump. The controls in this game consist of 2 punch & 2 kick buttons with L being used as a taunt. If you pull off a taunt successfully the character will gain a temporary strength boost. In Miss Hinako’s case it turns her into her older self.
The characters have their special moves from the series available. Ryoga has the Bakusai-Tenketsu “breaking point” attack & the Shi Shi Hokodan “lion roar shot”. Ranma has the Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” & the Hiryu Shoten Ha “heaven blast of the dragon” techniques. Other characters who don’t normally have special moves in the series are given some for the benefit of the game. The only problem I found was that some of the projectile moves don’t travel very far across the screen.
The game has that wacky Ranma feel with characters facial expressions being readable on the screen. It feels like a bit of a hybrid between the manga & the anime, like they were trying to keep both parties happy & it works very well. In jokes from the series are present, such as Genma being in his more comfortable panda form & Kuno calling himself the “Blue Thunder of Furinkan High”. As you can see, he really is the Blue Thunder with this special attack:
One thing I do have to mention is the speed of the game. Don’t be expecting Street Fighter 2 Turbo here. The game is quite slow which might put some people off, but I had such a blast playing as various Ranma characters in a decent fighting game I was able to forgive this fairly minor flaw.
The music is nice though it’s not from the series which is a shame. I found it to be pretty unobjectionable anyway, but it might not be to everyone’s taste. The game does feature in play speech, but it sounds very muffled which doesn’t contrast well with the music which is bright & clear.
The graphics are really nice, but there is an issue. A lot of the characters have undergone colour changes. I’ve already mentioned Mariko, but the others are:
– Ukyo – She wears a blue top in the series, not purple.
– Kodachi – She normally wears a plain green leotard. Here she is wearing one with a design on it, so I’d probably say this is acceptable
– Miss Hinako – Is wearing an off white jumper when it should be yellow
– Tatewaki Kuno – Is wearing a white top with a blue hakama, when it should be a blue top with black hakama
– Shampoo – Only a small complaint about how dark her hair is. It should be lighter than it is
– Mariko – Again with Mariko. She doesn’t actually wear blue, but beige
– Mousse – His clothes should be white, not a pale grey/blue
Again these are only small complaints & don’t stop the game being enjoyable. Boy type Ranma is in his traditional red outfit, but has been shown in green, white & blue versions of that top, so any of those would have been acceptable.
After 2 below par Ranma fighting games it’s good to see that we finally get something playable. The gang, as they say, is all here with signature moves included & it’s a joy to pull off a move you recognise from a particular episode/chapter. Put simply this game feels like a Ranma game should & for that I’m going to rate this 88%.
I’ve been told that’s probably a bit generous, but it’s a good game & I’m a fan. What can I say?!
This game was slated for release in the US as “Ranma 1/2: Anything Goes Martial Arts” & apparently it was ready for release before it was cancelled. It was even rumoured that the English voice cast had dubbed their characters. Why was it cancelled? Well there are a few rumours:
– Rumiko Takahashi (the creator of Ranma) didn’t like the voice acting. I have to ask why this would be an issue? She let the whole anime be dubbed with those voices, why would a video game be any different?
– Hard Battle didn’t fare very well. This is believable I suppose, but why put all that effort into translating this game in the first place? I guess it wouldn’t be the first time something like that has happened
– The company that were arranging the release went out of business. This one is true, & it’s sad no one else picked up the release. I’m hoping the prototype will be released one day as I’d like to play it in English. Box art was created & I found this image from Ign.com
Sorry it’s not any bigger, but this is the best I could find…