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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

Bandai Namco

 

Developer

Bandai Namco

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2007

 

 

- Great transitions between anime and action; feels a lot like a cartoon

 

 

- Controls are ham-fisted at best

- Flightly camera

 

 

Review: Godzilla! Destroy All Monsters Melee (GC)

Review: Soul Calibur II (GC)

Review: Midway Arcade Treasures 3 (GC)

 

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Zatch Bell! Mamodo Fury

Score: 5.5 / 10

 

Zatch Bell has the distinction of likely being the last GameCube game I’ll ever review.  Which is why it’s a little bittersweet that Zatch Bell manages to be only average, and sorely lacking when compared to other GameCube fighting games like Super Smash Bros. Melee, Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee, and Soul Calibur.  It certainly has a charm of its own and I found that in short bursts of four or five successful battles, I actually had some fun.

 

zatch bell          zatch bell

 

Zatch Bell’s style matches its anime roots – it feels like you’re playing one of those whacked out Japanese cartoons with a cel-shaded sensibility; it’s awesome – but the inexact controls trip up the game enough to make some fights more of a challenge than they should be.

 

Unless you count the short “How To” excerpts during loading screens, there’s precious little in the way of a tutorial.  The single-player story would have been an easy fit for a couple of tutorial-laden matches but the developers decided to kick

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players in to the deep end of the pool.  Though you can switch on the fly, essentially you control two characters at the same time – Kiyo and Zatch; the latter of which is a diminutive mamodo.  Pressing “B” makes Kiyo punch.  At the expense of “spirit energy”, pressing “A” activates the power of Zatch – when you press “A” a sectioned power-bar appears at the bottom of the screen.  Hold “A” down and the sections 

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fill up.  Depending on where you release it – and the different moves you’ve learned – that power will be unleashed.  This forces you to watch the power-bar and get your timing right.  During the more “run around and dodge stuff” battles it’s very difficult to watch that and perform the moves you want with any kind of accuracy.

 

There’s also a “uber move” activated under specific conditions and you’ve tapped the corresponding on-screen buttons – it’s fun to watch but isn’t much else when it comes to gameplay.

 

Maybe in an effort to compensate for this, the developers allow you to level-up Zatch’s skills.  But it’s almost a throwaway feature because it’s so easy to max out his abilities well before the end of the single-player game.

 

My one other big gripe is that the camera tends to be flighty even with the ability to lock-on to targets.

 

zatch bell          zatch bell

 

The battles outside the story mode take on a different feel – rather than any kind of objective (i.e. stop so-and-so from crushing the school) it just you and your opponent going head-to-head with all the abilities of the mamodo activated.  Something that is far less important in the story more is the ability of the human characters to knock the books out of the hands of the human opponent.  This renders him unable to cast spells with his mamodo.

 

There are also a handful of mini-games, which are hardly more than a distraction.

 

It’s not much of a fighting game, its controls are inexact, the camera has its own quirks, and it’s only enjoyable during short sittings, but Zatch Bell! Mamodo Fury is a very stylish Japanese game that should please fans of the anime.

 

- D.D. Nunavut

(February 13, 2007)

 

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