And now we'll move towards the 3D realm. Ninku is a Sega title from 1996, based on an anime series (of course). It's pretty much unknown in the West, which is a bit odd, since this would surely become another one of those Saturn cult hits.
Ninku is one of those hybrid games, with 2D characters and a 3D polygon background. This is something that became more common during the 32-bit era, in games like Strider 2 and Radiant Silvergun. I would expect that this visual style could become the norm if 2D gameplay seriously made a comeback. We'll have to wait and see on that one.
Fortunately the two different graphic elements fit masterfully. The polygon environments are fully 3D and deftly detailed. I'm really impressed by them. Playstation junkies might sigh, but, hey, it's just a pose. They will be duly impressed by the quality of the character animation. I'm really impressed at how fully Sega manages to incorporate them into this 3D world. The fighting is still on a 2D plane, but a lot of hits and throws knock players off at an angle, causing the camera to swoop around like it does on the Virtua Fighter series.
Maybe that's just me. I dunno.
The gameplay itself is more straightforward and less flashy than all the other anime fighters I mentioned in the last few posts. This might cause a little disappointment; again, I haven't spent nearly enough time playing. I really don't know just how deep the fighting system is. There doesn't seem to be too many moves, and special attacks are fairly standard for the genre. This is very much a genre game.
Right now, I'm less impressed with Ninku than Asuka and Astra and Sonic Council, but it's still good fun. The graphics are damned impressive, and right now I can't get enough of these anime fighters. Maybe it's just the chance to play with a whole new palette of players, instead of the same group of losers year after year. C'mon, Ken and Ryu have to be pushing 60 by now. Don't they have day jobs?