aka Zatch Bell: Friendship Tag Battle 2.
Recently Zatch Bell or known in Japan as Gashbell in Japan has debuted on Cartoon Network. The story is about a Zatch, a young boy who is given to a socially confused genius, Kiyo. Kiyo’s father sends Zatch to him in hopes that Zatch can break Kiyo out of his shell. While Zatch is there to help Kiyo out, he needs Kiyo’s help too. To compete in the ultimate battle between the mamodo Zatch needs Kiyo to command a spell book. Zatch and Kiyo aren’t the only ones out there looking to be the king of all the mamodo. There are plenty of other mamodo human partners just waiting to battle them. In Konjiki no Gashbell: Yuujou Tag Battle 2 you’ll be primarily focused on battles between the mamodo.
The game is developed by a familiar name in the anime game world. Eighting the studio who did the Naruto: Geiktou Ninja Taisen games, spearheaded Konjiki no Gashbell. It probably comes as no surprise that Konjiki no Gashbell: Yuujou Tag Battle 2 plays a lot like Ninja Taisen titles. Battles take place in real 3D, where you control Zatch or another mamodo with the analog stick. You can attack by pressing X, use spell book moves by pressing square and block by pressing circle. You can add in a directional button to do a couple of different attacks. Pressing up and X has your human partner throw you up in the air so you can do a mid air attack. Where as Pressing down and X gives a generic sweep attack. Each character has a limited number of combos that are preset.
Casting different spells gives a few more options. Each character has up to four possible spells with one super spell attack. For Zatch pressing square will do a straight forward lighting strike called Zakeru and pressing down plus square summons a lighting bolt that powers Zatch up. When you use moves from the spell book soul energy is sapped. This limits players from constantly casting spell attacks. The meter can be filled in two ways: by attacking with your basic attack and by manually charging by holding L1. The advantage of manually charging your soul meter will actually extend the maximum amount of soul energy you have. A soul charge is the only way you can store enough energy to do a super move. Super powerful spells like Tio’s Gigano Saisu and Canchome’s Gaporuku. Each super move stops the action to summon a huge dragon and deals out massive damage. Most super moves eliminate 3/4 of a life bar and they’re unblockable unless you have a super move stored up to counter attack. One problem with this system is slightly skilled gamers can build up their soul meter by attack in the first round and unleash a super move the second round. This leads to easy wins, even against a more savvy human opponent.
One thing misleading about the title is that you only control a mamodo. There is no tagging back and forth with your human companion. Actually, most of the time your partner is just running around aimlessly. They only time a partner attacks is when you do a combo with a "partner attack". These combos normally just have your human partner throw a few punches. The best help your partner gives you is the move where you can be launched in the air.
There are a couple of different modes on top of the obligatory one on one fighting that you would expect. The story mode puts you in control of Zatch and Kiyo as you go through preset battles. In between fights you’ll select different locations to enter. You can revisit places featured in the anime like Kiyo’s school. Within the story mode players have options of who to fight next. Maybe you’re want to take on Megumi and Tio or you can choose to battle Sheree and Burago. Fans of the anime series will like how the story is told in a different way. What is confusing is that you don’t know where the next fight is. Often times you’ll have to randomly enter locations seeking a challenge. Playing through the story mode nets you orbs. Players can use these orbs to upgrade their characters spell power and attacks. To keep the game balanced in two player fights you can opt to play with your powered up character or the standard version. Orbs can also be spent on unlocking collectable cards. With over a hundred cards to collect players have a lot to do for one player.
The visual differences between the Gamecube version and PS2 version of Konjiki no Gashbell: Yuujou Tag Battle 2 are minor. In both versions you’ll see cel shaded characters. The models look decent, like they appear in there series only in 3D. The super special attacks look pretty cool. Seeing Zatch’s gold dragon is a sight, but beyond that most of the other attacks just manage to be appear decent. Between battle conversations are told with flat drawings that don’t lip synch properly. It looks silly when there is a break in text and mouths are still moving. Overall the game looks OK, but the bar has been raised so much most gamers won’t consider this one of the top graphic titles on either system.
The fighting system might not be the best out there, but it doesn’t mean that Konjiki no Gashbell: Yuujou Tag Battle 2 is a dud. It’s fairly decent for casual gamers who don’t want to spend hours mastering frame animations. With a decent selection of 12 characters, fans of the series will be pleased.
Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 2
If you don’t know Japanese, most of the menus are easy to get through after five minutes with the title. The story mode on the other hand requires that you are literate or have good knowledge with the series. In the dialogue after battles you’ll be given clues where to go next. The actual fighting is easy to pick up and the gameplay is easy to learn.
Since Zatch Bell is showing on Cartoon Network can a game release from Bandai be far behind? It seems likely that the first Zatch Bell fighter will be ported and then this title at a later date.
+ Pros: Plenty to do for single players including a story to follow, leveling up characters and collecting cards.
– Cons: Overly simplistic fighting with only a handful of characters.
Overall: Konjiki no Gashbell: Yuujou Tag Battle 2 suffers from licensed game syndrome. It has predictable gameplay and it will be entertaining for fans of the series. For everyone else it’s just another mediocre fighting game.
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