Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Last Bronx on Sega Saturn

Last Bronx was Sega's final, great 3D fighting game for the Saturn. This title arrived in the US just when Sega of America decided to prematurely kill the console, and so it was never allowed the time to build an audience and become a flagship hit ala Virtua Fighter 2. Thankfully, its reputation as a Saturn classic is secured.

I'm obviously a big fan of Sega arcade games, and fighting game in particular, but I've never really spent enough time playing Last Bronx. It is a more refined take on the Virtua Fighter formula - block, punch, kick - but it still lacks the iconic characters and wondrous color design of Virtua Fighter 2. The fighters are a bit generic, the colors a bit flat and grey and same-ish.

Thankfully, Sega's AM3 studio handled the home conversion, and you can see the technical brilliance as the Saturn's 3D powers are pushed to their limit. The faked 2D backgrounds are eerily convincing, especially in that garage stage with the low ceilings. The speed is fast and the action is tough, and before you know it, you're bashing away with multi-hit combos and beating your friends senseless.

Last Bronx was lucky enough to be a weapons-based fighter, at a time when such a thing was rare. Namco's Soul Edge was the main competitor, and their Dreamcast sequel, Soul Calibur, would become one of the greatest fighting games ever made. Again, I don't think AM3's game is quite that good, but it's excellent and fits perfectly in the Saturn library.

The Japanese release of Last Bronx also included a second disc, which contained move lists, tutorials, movies, and other cool bonuses. That would have been nice to see in the States. Heck, by the end of 1997, any Saturn games would have been nice to see. Lucky for us, we did get this one.

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