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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Wrestling / Action

 

Publisher

Bandai

 

Developer

Aki Corp.

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

June 2003

 

 

- Non-stop action

- Great style and nostalgia

- Good variety

- Lots of moves and characters

- Challenging AI

- Cel-shading was a good choice

- Very nice audio

 

 

- AI can be too challenging

- More brawler than wrestler

- Story mode grows a bit tired

 

 

Review: Def Jam Vendetta (GC)

Review: Def Jam Vendetta (PS2)

Review: Godzilla - Destroy All Monsters Melee (GC)

 

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Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy Legends vs. New Generation

Score: 8.7 / 10

 

No more last-second saves.  No pins.  No submission holds.  No beats missed.  No let-up to the action.  Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy – Legends vs. New Generation (UM) is my kind of wrestling game – stylish, powerful and nostalgic.  

 

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Although the game has more to do with the recent cartoon, I’ll always remember Muscles as inch-tall pinkish plastic men of strange proportions from about 15-years ago.  And strangely enough the kind of on-screen action in UM is entirely reminiscent of the kind of mayhem that went on in my imagination.  The cel-shaded style is completely whacked out and suits UM, especially the powerful Level 3 finishing moves that play out along the lines of Def Jam Vedetta (another wrestling game from Aki Corp), like an action-packed snippet of Anime.  They’re imaginative and fun to watch, especially the Tag Team Combos.

 

The moves list for UM is extensive but less so than Def Jam Vendetta (DJV).  UM does away with submission holds, which increases the pace of the matches tremendously (something you’ll really notice if you play DJV after UM).  Every match ends in a KO.  You have a short health bar and that’s it – no second chances by escaping a pin.  But back to the moves, variety is great.  Each wrestler has their own finishing and regular moves.  The good news is that they are executed with the same button combinations.  So mastering one character gives you a good handle 

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on the other characters.  The only thing you have to keep in mind is the speed and power of each character, which can vary (more so with the various power-ups that get tossed in the ring).  

 

Aki packed UM full of characters (and you can create your own), most of which have to be unlocked one way or another.  The main method of unlocking characters is multiple forays through the Story mode.  The stories are short and to the point and don’t vary from a simple formula of single, tag and boss matches.  

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Some will surely complain about being “forced” to do this, just as they complained about doing it in Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee.  But you gotta do, what you gotta do.  The pay-off – more characters – makes multiplayer games way more fun to play and watch.

 

Other match types include Versus, Battle Royale, 2 vs. 2 and Tag Team.  There’s even a Tournament mode to keep things interesting but playing with human opponents is more fun than butting heads with the computer AI.

 

The opponent AI can be too much of a challenge at times.  UM doesn’t suffer from the same miracle AI that DJV features.  In DJV it wasn’t uncommon to completely dominate a match only to have the AI explode (with a sliver of health) and win the match.  This isn’t the case with UM.  No, with UM the AI is so ornery that even on Easy, the AI can stomp you consistently if you don’t pay attention.  On the Hard setting it never misses an opportunity to make you pay for your mistakes.  Even when you think you have an opening, think again.  The AI picks up on things and will be ready for whatever you dish out. (Expect to be plucked mid-air and slammed to the canvas often.)  The Medium setting should offer more than enough challenge for the typical gamer.  The AI coupled with the speed of the game makes for excellent arcade action.

 

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Which takes me to my next point: UM is more brawler than wrestler.  At least, for wrestling fans it’s more brawler than wrestler.  The speed is the difference.  “Pure” wrestling games feature more grappling and a moderate pace.  UM is a moderately controlled nuclear explosion of color and motion – and damn fun.  You definitely have to be on top of you game though because it is so much faster.

 

Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy – Legends vs. New Generation is a great game.  While the AI can be extremely tough and playing the Story mode through so many times gets a bit old, these shortcomings are more than made up for with the intensity, presentation, and clean fun that it has to offer.  Recommended!

 

- Omni

(July 13, 2003)

 

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