December 13, 2018

Dreamcast 20 #13: Power Stone

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast, Sega's final - and in my opinion the finest - home videogame console. Despite a range of excellent games, it simply failed to compete against Sony's PlayStation 2. To celebrate, The Angriest counts down its 20 best games.

Most fighting games tend to follow the same basic design: a one-on-one martial arts battle between two characters that follow along a one-dimensional plane. They move back and forth, with any two-dimensional side-step simply acting to re-align that linear plane. Fighting games that attempt more complex ranges of movement often struggle because they are more complicated to control. The first one that I ever played that successfully negotiated a fully three-dimensional range of movement was Power Stone, a Capcom fighter exclusively for Sega's arcade platform and the Dreamcast. It's a fantastic, frantic gem.

First and foremost, the game is hugely playable. It doesn't take long to get a handle on how the game plays, and once you're up and running it takes a long time to fully master gameplay. The additional dimensions of play, plus the addition of power-ups - should your character collect the titular 'power stones' - gives the game a nice sense of longevity.

Like most Capcom titles it is also beautifully designed, with a vibrant use of colour and variety between the playable characters. It is no surprise that the game was soon spun off into a television anime series, since design-wise it is truly top-notch.

The game was later followed by a sequel, Power Stone 2, that included simultaneous four-player gameplay and added several new playable characters. Long after the Dreamcast had gone, both Power Stone games were bundled into a re-release on the PlayStation Portable (PSP) hand-held console. Now the IP sits waiting for a canny producer at Capcom to revive it for a third round. It certainly deserves it.

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