Power Stone is the only fighting game I've ever truly loved. I'm fond of some entries in the Soul Calibur series and I've enjoyed throwing Mario into the void in Smash Bros from time to time, but the combo-complexities of competitive beat 'em ups usually repel me. Power Stone is different - 3d arenas with oodles of weapons and weird items to use, and an emphasis on using the environment and power-up mechanics to win rather than tricky button sequences.
LASTFIGHT [official site], a game based on stylish French martial arts comic Last Man, is the first game I've played since the days of Dreamcast that looks to capture the pugnacious perfection of Power Stone.
The game made an appearance at Rezzed, set up on a splendid arcade cabinet with controls for up to four players. I played with one member of the development team and two strangers in a set of 2v2 matches. We came out on top and that's more than likely because of my experienced teammate rather than anything I did. But I was playing as the chap above, because his corporate-demon chic seemed appropriate. He might be more Paranormal Powers than Panama Papers, but he does get to spew cigar smoke into his opponents' faces while battering them with a fish. The height of elitist behaviour, as I'm sure you'll all agree.
Fish make handy weapons, it turns out. The arena we were playing in has a pond at the top and whenever a fish emerges, you can grab it and either swing it like a baseball bat or lob it at someone's face. The full game will have eight stages, each with their own environmental hazards that can be used to your advantage (or used against you) and more than 25 items to use. These range from rocket launchers to brick-like cellphones that can be used to call in an airstrike.
And then there are the drugs. As the splash screen says, "Winners don't use bad drugs". That suggests there are good drugs and that's because, I believe, the quote is from an evil in-fiction pharmaceutical company that manufactures performance enhancing substances for fighters. There will be four types of power-up in the finished game but I only saw a drug that transforms the taker into a monster, giving them a small timeframe in which to mop up the competition. It's described as follows:
STERO is the answer to all professional athlete needs, a power comparable to invincibility.
Effects: super strength, overpowering muscle.
Secondary effects: life shortage, explosion of internal organs, destruction of the vertebraes.
I'm proud to say that my wicked capitalist villain relied entirely on his cigars and constant use of the block button to ensure victory, and did not transform into a monster even once. I am very well behaved. Also, I was so busy trying to catch the fish for Monty Python re-enactment purposes that I probably missed every other pick-up.
LASTFIGHT is a tremendous take on the Power Stone formula that reminded me how long it's been since I enjoyed fisticuffs with friends. I had a moment of horror when I thought it might not actually be coming out on PC, but it is. And it'll be here on May 19th