from here on out, I'm gonna make a small change with how I report ratings on my games. I'll list the ESRB rating first, followed by a colon and any content descriptors. It's a small change, most of you shouldn't notice it. And without further ado, here's the review.
Price: $4.99, Used, at Gamestop
Players: 1-4 (multitap required)
Save File Size: 70KB
Rating: Teen: Violence
This one is hard to review. Squaresoft (now Square Enix) has a significant reputation stemming from their Final Fantasy series. Naturally, one would expect that a Squaresoft game would carry the same caliber as their esteemed flagship series. This one, not so much.
The Bouncer centers around three men who work at a bar called "Fate." Shion, Volt, and Kou are all bouncers, hence the title. When one of their own, Dominique, is kidnapped by the Mikado Corporation, they're off to rescue her. It's a ridiculously simple storyline.
Gameplay involves battles with enemy bodyguards, robots, and other nemeses. Players are free to move around in the battle arena, and attack whomever they want. While this lets you help your allies, it also means your opponents can do the same. Attacks are mapped to low, mid, high, and AoE (Area of Effect, they call it spin in the manual. basically hits everyone nearby.) attacks. From what I gathered, an attack already in progress or a movement in a particular direction dictate what kind of attack the character will use. From what I read in the manual, the amount of pressure applied to the button on the controller also affects the attack used, though I was never able to notice any difference. Disengaging an attacker to move to another attacker is difficult at best. There were several battles in which I had a guy whacking me on the back of the head, and I couldn't do much to stop him, save for my AoE.
One of the RPG elements thrown into the game is the addition of "bouncer points," or BP. after each battle, you could use the BP you accrued to upgrade that character's stats and skills. Trust me, it's totally necessary to upgrade as much as you can. I found that skills were less important than upgrading ATK/DEF stats, though that could just be personal preference.
I also got a kick out of character interactions. before each battle, you can decide which character you'll control. for example, one person escorts Dominique, while the other two act as decoys. If you choose Shion, Dominique gets all lovey-dovey. If you choose Kou, she gives him the cold shoulder. The whole game is full of these sorts of interactions, and they add to the replay value of the game.
There are two multiplayer modes. Battle Royale involves up to four players duking it out. I never got to test this mode. There's also a duel mode in which you can play as any character or villain. This mode involves teams of three. I tried this out, and the villains are way underpowered. Adding to this is that many of them are difficult to control, as well.
This game does have the Japanese Dialogue and subtitle tracks available. Some people want this, so I thought it's important to mention.
Going from everything I like about this game, I have a few reservations about it. Anytime you play the game, you literally need to play with only one character the whole way through, just so you can have any chance of beating the final boss. Also, several of the special skills seemed really useless to me. And at 1000 BP or more, that's a hard thing to justify putting points towards. Also, the English voice cast annoyed me to no end. That's something I've gotten quite used to by now. Also, if you want to use the Japanese dialogue or a subtitle track, you have to manually activate it each time you fire up the PS2. It's not stored in the save file, which means another step before you can start playing the game.
Overall, this game is okay. It has its merits, but I really think that you're better off spending your $5 elsewhere.
Parental information: This game is, by all standards, a fighting game. If you have any reservations about your child playing this genre, avoid it. I seem to recall a few choice words issued from various characters, as well. If I were to put a minimum age for someone to play this, I'd recommend no younger than 12. Even then, I'd still probably avoid it.