Battle Heat


Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 9

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

Hudson Soft has managed to do something that has been eluding most game designers for years. Namely, to do something useful with a CD-based system's ability to create full-motion video. I'm not opposed to FMV games, in fact I'm probably more tolerant than the next gamer. I grew up on Dragon's Lair, Space Ace, and Cobra Command, so attempts to improve the genre have at least been "interesting" to me. Not many people would give games like Ground Zero Texas or Psychic Detective a whirl, but I loved them. And replayability aside, I still think there are good games in the genre.

Battle Heat screen shotBattle Heat is best of both worlds, mixing seamless FMV action as an interface to its highly interactive fighting game engine. Many of the moves are pulled off via Street Fighter II mechanics (incomplete list of moves below), and the response is very tight. This isn't the first time a fighting game has been attempted with FMV: Sega gamers may remember Prize Fighter and Supreme Warrior. While neither of these games are total disasters, they severely lack the interactive element critical to fighting games. You need to punch, block, counter... feel every hit connect. Battle Heat does that, where others before have failed.

The button sequence takes a little getting used to. The PC-FX has a six-button pad but they're not used for the typical punch/kick at light/medium/heavy doses. Instead, the top row of buttons goes Hard Hit/Jump/Special Attack and the bottom row goes Light Hit/Block/Taunt. Once you've become familiar with the buttons, the game really gets intense. Counter attacks are posssible, as are combinations. You can jump attack. You can attack while a character is down. You can even attack as you're getting up from BEING down (I did this once or twice but can't seem to get the exact sequence). Sound like the elements of a good fighting game? It is.

The game screen is inset within a narrow border that contains the game title and a two-position sliding icon that shows if the characters are near or far (the only two distances you can be at), and their condition. If you see your character breathing heavy in the icon box, he's about to drop. As mentioned, full-motion video streams into the center portion of the screen. The artwork on this game is just beautiful! As good as any anime I've ever seen, the movements really bring the characters to life. When no one is attacking, the camera shifts back and forth between closeups of each player and an overhead of the battlefield. On each attack, you'll see an even smaller inset appear showing the attacker charging in. On each successful block, you'll see the defender's eyes in yet another inset. All of the action and insets make it feel like you are controlling a mini movie. It really is a new experience.

I can't read Japanese but it seems as if these futuristic characters have been roaming the desert in two clans: "The Republic of Kriph" appears to be the good guys; "The Holy Dark Empire" are the baddies. In tournament play you are The Republic. In Vs. mode you can choose a character from either side, but bad guys never fight bad guys and good guys never fight good guys. I guess there was a limit to the amount of video Hudson could get on one CD and all of those combinations probably would have broken it. Not a problem for me.

Moves are easily executed, and again, due to the capabilities of FMV many are quite dramatic. It's really cool to watch a character charge up and unleash a major attack. The ground swells, explosions fill the screen, and the defender is blown back in a blast of light leaving an indentation on a rock wall he's thrown into. You'll want to try every move just to see the video effects!

Battle Heat is considered to be one of the very best games for this system. It's a shame it will probably never see play on a U.S. console.

This moves list is missing two characters: Gotz Von Dark and Zero, both from the Holy Order. Zero is not playable in a Vs. game initially, and for some reason, playing Gotz makes my PC-FX freeze up! If I get through these characters I'll add the moves here.

All Characters Low Fist D+IV Any
  Low Kick D+III Near
  Jump Kick V, then hold D, press IV while in air Near
  Down Attack V, then hold D, press IV while in air Any
  Quick Blast L+III for Republic. R+III for Holy Order Far
Kai (Republic) Big Punch UR+IV Far
  Roundhouse Kick UR+IV Near
  Red Blast L, DL, D, DR, R, VI Far
  Ball of Red D, DR, R, VI Far
  Tornado Attack Hold L, press R, VI Far
  Flash Kick D+VI (rapidly) Near
  100 Hand Strike VI (rapidly) Far
  Shockwave U+VI (rapidly) Far
Yuki (Republic) Throw R, U, D, IV Near
  Clothesline D, L, R, VI Near
  Fire Blast L, DL, D, DR, R, VI Far
Han (Republic) Body Slam UR+IV Near
  Front Kick UR+IV Far
  Light Lariat D, DR, R, VI Far
  Fire Breath L, DL, D, DR, R, VI Far
  Earth Quake Hold L, press R+VI Far
  Wind Burst D+VI (rapidly) Near
  Lightning Shock VI (rapidly) Far
Grand-Gray (Republic) Smoke Charge UR+IV Near
  Wild Mage UR+IV Far
  Phoenix L, DL, D, DR, R, VI Far
  Power Staff Strike R, U, D, VI Far
  Skull Strike U, D, L, R, VI Far
  Blue Bolt Hold L, press R+VI Near
  Big Energy Blast Hold L, press R+VI Far
  Grand Upheaval VI (rapidly) Far
Alamis (Holy Order) Force Wave D, DL, L, VI Far
  Crimson Tide R, DR, D, DL, L, VI Far
  Hurricane Hold R, press L+VI Far
  Spinning Kick D+VI (rapidly) Near
  100 Feet Kick VI (rapidly) Far
  Jumping Force Kick U+VI (rapidly) Far
Cassiopeia (Holy Order) Neck Kick UL+IV Near
  Uppercut Kick UL+IV Far
  Sonic Blast U, UR, R, DR, D, DL, L, VI Far
  Lightning Blast R, DR, D, DL, L, VI Far
  Multi-Image Strike U, D, R, L, VI Near
  Ice Wind L, R, D, L, VI Near
  Ice Tornado D, R, L, VI Far
  Pinwheel Flame Hold D, press U+VI Far
  Fire Wand Hold R, press L+VI Far
  Rising Skull VI (rapidly) Far
Shyu (Holy Order) Suplex L, D, U, IV Near
  Tornado Attack L, R, D, L, VI Far
  Power Slate U, D, R, L, VI Far
  100 Hand Strike VI (rapidly) Near


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Last updated: Sunday, February 08, 2004 12:42 PM