E3 2005: Level Up
Bandai Storms E3 with Anime Invasion
Company: Bandai
Date: 05/25/2005
Avaliable On:

Bandai is very popular in the states for bringing various games based on anime over from Japan. This year at E3, there were several titles on display at Bandai?s booth. These titles encompass some of the most popular anime in Japan and the states currently. We were lucky enough to get in with Bandai backstage, and watch them demo their various games for us.

One Piece
The first game on the list is Shonen Jump?s One Piece for the PS2, Gamecube and Gameboy Advance. Ganbarion is developing the console version of the game, while Dimps is the developer of the GBA version. One Piece is a very popular anime series in both Japan and in North America, where it plays on Cartoon Network. The console version of this title sports sixteen playable characters from the anime series with an additional 32 support characters. These support characters can help you out in various ways throughout your fight.

The battles in One Piece take place in an interactive 3D environment. You can pick up objects and use them to attack your opponents. These interactive items vary from grass to boxes, and even bombs. Certain other elements in the arena, such as the cows in one stage, can be disturbed and interact with the fight as well.

One Piece features 6 gameplay modes including a Grand Battle and 3 player mode. In all, there are seven environments in which you can battle, and they are all taken directly from the TV show. One Piece will also feature the official voice actors from the North American anime series.

From what I played of the demo, One Piece is shaping up to be an excellent fighting game. The action is very smooth, as is the character animation. Since the game is cel-shaded, there is a lot of freedom in the action and mechanics of the characters that you normally wouldn?t have in a fighting game. There are also a variety of very powerful special moves that you can execute when you are low on health. If you?re into anime fighting games, this would be the one to look for. One Piece sails to the PS2, Gamecube and Gameboy Advance in September 2005.

The second game at the Bandai booth was Zatchbell, another popular anime series. The Zatchbell game is being developed by Eighting. In Zatchbell, you control a character called a mamodo. Every 1000 years, 100 of these mamodo descend to earth to battle. The mamodo who is victorious will become the king of their world, so there is a great deal at stake. However, mamodo cannot fight by themselves ? they need a human to cast spells for them from their powerful spell books.

The game features a host of mamodo to choose from, and you can even collect cards to unlock more characters. As with One Piece, Zatchbell includes official series voice actors in the game. In addition, there are many spells and attacks in Zatchbell that are unique to the game.

Zatchbell is much more than your common fighting game. During matches, not only is your character onscreen, but your character?s human counterpart is there as well. This allows for some nice interaction between characters and the humans. Although you cannot control your human directly, they do cast the spells for your mamodo, and if they are knocked down, your cannot cast temporarily. This new style for a fighting game makes it all the more interesting to play. Look for Zatchbell on the PS2, Gamecube and Gameboy Advanced in Fall of 2005.

Another popular series that makes its way to the video game format is InuYasha, developed by Eighting. This game features a ?partner? system, where two characters are fighting on a team at one time. You can choose your team and battle out the story from the popular anime series on Cartoon Network.

InuYasha features twelve characters from the anime series that you can use to fight out the storyline. The game types in InuYasha include a mission mode, story mode, and a two player versus mode. As with One Piece, the environment can be interactive. You can also choose formations with your partner character to gain advantages in battle. As you progress in the game, you can develop your character?s attacks and compatibility with other partners to improve your character overall.

The style of the InuYasha game was very good from my play test. You can pick either a team battle, where two players are on each side, or you can do a 1v1 battle. The team battle allows for a much more interesting and strategic fight, however. Another notable thing about this game is that, instead of playing two or three rounds of fights to determine a winner, each player has three ?lives? during a match, and you play the fight out without stopping. This creates a much fairer fighting system than most of the head to head fighting games out there. InuYasha comes to the Playstation 2 in August of 2005.

The final game I played with was DICE, another anime series playing on Cartoon Network. The DICE game was developed by the Japanese developer Natsume. In DICE, your characters use their Dinobreakers (large robotic dinosaurs) to save the Sarbylion Galaxy.

The game itself has nine different Dinobreakers from the anime series, and two never before seen Dinobreakers specific to this game. Since each Dinobreaker has different skills and abilities, you will always need to choose the right Dinobreaker to complete your missions. You can also upgrade the weapons used by your characters by either purchasing or unlocking the new features.

DICE was a game that reminded me a lot of the Sonic Adventure series on Gamecube. There is a lot of running around in this 3D world killing monsters and collecting money. You can fight both on and off of your Dinobreaker, so I would consider that a definite plus, but most of the time, you will want to be on your Dinobreaker, as it is a lot more powerful than your normal character. DICE hits the Playstation 2 in August 2005.

Overall, I would say Bandai had a good showing at E3. Their focus seems to be on anime fighting games, but those seem to be gaining in popularity lately, especially since the popularity of anime in North America is still on the rise. Look for these titles and more from Bandai in the coming months of 2005.

Z64freak aka Bret Hall

GameVortex PSIllustrated TeamPS2