The Fur Flies Again.
When it comes to displays of power, humans are pretty lame. When a lion gets territorial, it roars. When an elephant charges, it trumpets. But what happens when most humans are seriously threatened? They yell something impressive like, "Not in the face, NOT IN THE FACE!" But that would all change if we had the power of Zoanthropes.
What are Zoanthropes? Just check out Hudson's Bloody Roar series to find out. These powerful humans have the mysterious ability to transform into vicious were-animals with abilities and strengths far beyond the reach of mortal men. Throw them into a small fighting arena on the GameCube and you get Bloody Roar: Primal Fury. This remake of the Playstation 2's Bloody Roar 3 takes a few strides in the right direction, but it still can't quite escape the confines of mammalian mediocrity.
For those of you new to Bloody Roar, here are the basics. You'll choose from 12+ characters and attempt to spank anyone that dares to stand in your way. Each character has the power to transform into an animal form, giving them even more moves, greater power, and self-healing abilities. It's a simple setup - just add animals and stir briskly.
If you've played Bloody Roar 3, you'll immediately recognize a few improvements before the fighting even begins. The game starts off with a sweet anime-style intro that begs to be explored. Who are these guys fighting? What's up with the little kid? And why the heck do they keep showing Busuzima the Lizardman crashing his motorcycle? Of course, it never really goes anywhere and the paltry ten-second animated endings (without any vocal audio, no less) do nothing for the story (which also doesn't make much sense). I would have loved to see a full-bodied animated short as the reward for passing the game. So close, yet so far.
The number of modes has increased. Besides the basic Arcade, Versus, Survival, and Training modes that were found in Bloody Roar 3, Primal Fury sets you up with a Team Battle and Time Attack mode. Nothing terribly original, but at least it's something.
Primal Fury's best addition, however, is a fresh look augmented by a solid framerate. The graphics have been cleaned up considerably since moving over to the GameCube and you'll notice right away that the characters and arenas look as smooth as butter. Nice lighting effects and clean edges show a marked improvement. Pull it all together with 60 frames per second and we've got a very pretty fighter.
Unlike the previous installment, beating the game will yield plenty of stuff. In addition to some very cool unlockable characters (including a penguin and an elephant), you'll also be able to open up a few goofy cheats like the super-deformed Kids mode and the ever-popular Big Head mode. Actually, there are a lot of things to open up each time you complete the game (Big Arm mode, COM Battle, and more) - it's just too bad none of it is very exciting. I'll give them a star for trying, though.
While it's nice to see some improvements in the graphics and extras, the run-of-the-mill gameplay has remained largely unchanged. The fighting system is littered with button-mashing combos that ultimately ends up being a little shallow. Getting stuck in a corner is a recipe for disaster and knowing when to transform still can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Considering the interesting animal transformation theme, it's a shame that the actual meat is so skimpy.
The fighting arenas follow in the gameplay's footsteps and remain small, uninspired squares. Even the "interactive and destructible multi-level arenas" are few and far between. Besides, they usually just lead to a 'ring out' rather than a new place to fight. The level design doesn't even begin to come close to the ones we've seen in Dead or Alive and the attempt is really quite lame.
As the first real fighter to hit the GameCube, Bloody Roar: Primal Fury is not bad. Playing with friends is good fun and there's nothing like stomping on a massive lion with a little penguin. Some of the old skin has been shed to reveal a fresh look, but this prizefighting animal is still a few hairballs away from becoming a champion.