Yatagarasu: A ham-fisted review

There aren't many reviews out for this game, so as a service to the community, please allow me to write a few words about this demo that's been making a few waves.

But first a quick synopsis:

It's the year 20XX, and clones have taken over the world.  Cities have been ravaged apart from endless sibling rivalries, leaving the rest of the world with little to no means for survival.  Resources are scarce.  The entire continent of Japan seems to be on the brink of extinction, until one lone warrior rises above the crowd and announces a tournament to end all tournaments: Yatagarasu.

Clones from all over Japan enter, hoping to grab the top prize for themselves: a year's supply of tofu and chicken.  Hanzo, a ninja warrior on the verge of starvation, decides to put her ninja skills she learned from Naruto to the test.  She also enters in the hopes of finding her own clone, as she is grows tired of being alone.  She is quickly cast away however, as the tournament rules requires would-be contestants to enter in teams of two.

Luckily she meets Jyuzumaru, the last man on Earth.  The two quickly form a team, casting aside their distrust in an attempt to horde the grand prize for themselves.  Since Jyuzumaru also works as a part-time ramen chef, his culinary skills are greatly valued by Hanzo.

Little do they realize what's in store for them…

"Enough traveling!  Let them come!  We shall grind their bones to dust!" Julia, the in game announcer

The announcer just cracks me up in this game.

So let's get to the meat of the game.  On the surface, Yatagarasu looks like your typical fighter, with dashes, specials, and super moves.  It's still in it's demo build, with a tiny roster of six characters — four of which are direct copies of the other.  Ryu must've had twins, because Kou and Kurou are instantly recognizable as the shotokan brothers.  There's also Hina and Shimo, katana sisters-in-crime.  Just like you'd expect, they also share the same moves. 

The game doesn't offer very much variety, if at all.

But the unique part of Yatagarasu involves the parry system.  There's two buttons: one for high attacks, and another for low attacks.  They don't have any animation when you press the button, so it's hard to tell whether or not the other person is anticipating your attack or not.  Parries work on the same principle as Street Fighter: Third Strike, as in they give minor frame advantages on success, and cancel out just about every move in the game aside from throws allowing for a quick counter attack.

The art in this game is magnificent.  While a bit too overtly "stylistic" for my tastes (I'm thinking of Kou and Kurou's win poses for example), it does the job well with unique character designs and sprite animations.  Definitely on par with another beautiful doujin fighter, Vanguard Princess.  The backgrounds are static and don't fit at times with the action in the foreground, but overall it does a decent job of not sucking.  The music is great as well; it fits the stages beautifully adding an extra dimension to the atmosphere to the game.

Overall, the game is passable for fighting fans to indulge until the next big title comes along.  There isn't enough depth to the game as of yet, but hopefully as the next build comes out more characters will be released as well.  I also hope they give the existing characters a bit more personality — I don't really like how the clones play all too similar to each other.  I also think Hanzo needs a better moveset.  Her existing one is pretty crap.  For a star of the series, she's pretty weak.  Plus she's a ninja, why doesn't she have any throwing stars or anything?  Every ninja needs one of those!

You can find the game here, as well as additional info and screenshots.

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Random quote of the day: "I like girls, but I'm more into justice."

January 2010
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