“ "Arcade conversion of the 3D beat em'up with 8 distinct fighters each with their own attributes & weapons. Numerous fighting locations. Modes include Survival & team battles. Head to Head play over LAN, Modem or serial link. System: P133, Windows 95, 16Mb ram, 8 speed drive, 35Mb ram." „
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Here's a game you can play - rent a 'foreign' film, preferably a low-budget Japanese chop-socky film. Then track down a friend or vague acquaintance who speaks the language featured in the film, and get them to translate it word for word as you watch it. Compare what your friend is telling you with the subtitles, and you might be a little surprised to find that the subtitles and dialogue don't actually match - watch as the gulf between the actual dialogue and the subtitled dialogue widens to the point where the characters in the movie appear to be speaking complete gibberish. It's a grand old tradition of foreign cinema, particularly in the Far East, where some of the dialogue can be positively surreal. And Sega have continued this tradition with Last Bronx - a 3D beat-em-up in the mould of Virtua Fighter. The intro sequence to this game features a Japanese pop-song that is particularly strange. See if you can make sense of any of this - 'Behing my dark shield, a roaring scream from somebody - I'll only be healed by a pain of my soul, not my body'. The singer then goes on to refer to 'Noise from hard cracking weapons' and 'The key to the solution of the chaos is indicated by the hesitation on her face'. Eh? What a load of cobblers. The person who translated that should clearly be forced to swallow a large Japanese to English to dictionary.
But fortunately for non-Japanese speaking gamers, the storyline is explained in the on-line help, so you don't need to rely on the intro sequence for information. The plot goes something like this - in the not too distant future, Neo-Tokyo is subject to raging gang wars, crime, violence, that sort of thing. So one of the gang-leaders decides to settle things by having a big tournament where all the other gang-leaders can settle their differences by kicking seven shades of sushi out of each other. The winner of the tournament will become the grand gang ruler of Neo-Toyko - the losers will go home in a hearse - non participation is not an option. If the whole 'grand tournament' scenario sounds familiar, then it's because it's been used before in practically every beat-em-up around, including Virtua Fighter, another 3D beat-em-up from Sega, a game which Last Bronx is remarkably similar to. In fact, Last Bronx uses the Virtua Fighter engine, so VF fans should feel right at home with the game, although it does look pretty old. And newcomers to the 3D beat-em-up genre should get the hang of things fairly quickly.
There are eight characters you can play as, including a small kid with a stick, a bloke with a big hammer, and.. hang on a minute - a hammer? In a fighting tournament? Indeed, because unlike the Virtua Fighters, the characters in Last Bronx are all armed with swords, bats, and other weapons, each of which are used in place of their fists, though unlike some games, such as Samurai Showdown and Mortal Kombat 4, it's impossible for the characters to lose their weapons. So you can wade in without worrying that your character will have their stupidly nasty weapon taken, although this does detract from the game a little - it would have been more fun if you could lose your weapon, or pick up your opponent's weapon and lay into them with it. As in VF, there are no superhuman special moves where you blast your opponent with a fireball, or teleport from one side of the screen to the other. Instead, you have a range of hyper-violent close range moves which require you to get near your opponent in order to pull them off. The more powerful moves require a more complex series of button presses to execute, but it's worth learning them since some of them are utterly devastating - it's possible to wipe out half your opponent's energy bar in one go. And your opponent won't have any qualms about using them on you.
Each bout lasts about thirty seconds, although there is an option to change the fight duration - you can turn off the timer if you want. The only way to defeat your opponent is to pummel the life out of them - you can't knock them out of the ring as you could in Virtua Fighter since the rings are surrounded by fences, although you can leap on the fences if you want, and use them to get the drop on your opponent. The fights take place in a range of locations, including the bizarrely named 'Lust Subway', although you don't get the chance to boot your opponent into the path of an oncoming train. If you're looking for gore, you'd be better off with the Mortal Kombat games. One thing worth noting is that while the arenas are 3D, you can't move freely around the arena. Most of the fights are 2D, with you moving backwards and forwards in one direction, the camera zooming around to get the best view of the fight, but you can't move in or out of the screen. G
There are several ways that you can play Last Bronx. There's 'Arcade Mode', which is just the same as the Saturn version of the game, or 'PC mode', which has you taking on the baddies in a specific order, corresponding to the character you choose. Complete the game in this mode, and you get an Anime style end-sequence, showing the ultimate fate of your character. Or you can opt for 'Survival Mode', where you take on all the characters, without ever getting your energy bar replenished. Then there's 'Training Mode' which lets you learn specific combo attacks. Or you can pick a team of fighters and take on the computer fighters. Finally, there's two player mode, where you can virtually humiliate someone in one-on-one combat. What Last Bronx doesn't have is Direct 3D card support, which is a bit of a mystery, because Sega's previous beat-em-up, Virtua Fighter 2, supported Direct 3D. And while today's computers can handle software mode with ease, it still looks a little wierd.
Last Bronx is an average enough beat-em-up, and is worth a look if you're a Sega completist. But there are many better beat-em-ups about. Sega's Virtual Fighter series is still going, too, which is worth a look.
(review by me, originally posted on GamesDomain)