“Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle” is one of the weirdest anime-to-video game releases, nearly forgotten because of its poor production.
For anyone who doesn’t know “Ranma 1/2,” this series was pretty much about a boy who turns into a girl when he gets hit by cold water. She can only turn into a guy if he comes in contact with hot water. The rest of the story focused mostly on his love triangles with the other girls, and even guys, of his high school.
Technically, the plot of this fighting game doesn’t make too much sense, but it works to bring all these characters together to fight. The principal of Ranma’s high school is setting up a tournament. He’s promised each participant the prize that that person wants the most.
Each person has a reason to fight. Ranma wants to be excused from attending high school classes. Akane wants boys to stop following her. Shampoo wants to prove to Ranma that she’s strong enough for him. There’s even a few minor characters in the video game as well, such as the Gambling King, who uses a cane and stacks of cards to fight. His dream is to start up a casino in Nerima with the principal’s help. You’ll pretty much figure out the story in a short time.
On paper, it seems like a fun and goofy concept for a fighting game. However, “Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle” plays as slowly as the old “Clay Fighter” games. The characters move as slow as slugs and the special moves are almost too easy to use. The game quickly becomes a boring rock, paper, scissors game, where each player takes the time to see what the other player does, so that she/he can counter it.
So why should anyone buy this game? Well, this game is actually more memorable for its stupefyingly voice actors. The United States publisher, DTMC, decided to use American voice actors. The voices sound funny and horribly overdone at the same time. It’s pretty much worth playing just to hear a girl mumbling loudly, “HYUUYOUSOUKENHA!” Half the time, you couldn’t even hear what the other character was saying. It was like an unintentional parody of “Street Fighter II,” where the voice actors were making fun of every bad special move cliche.
Better yet, these fighters were duking it out in some of the most bizarre backdrops that you will probably never see in any other fighting game. There’s nothing more fun than fighting on Ukyo Kuonji’s stage, which is literally a wrestling ring smothered with a Japanese okonomiyaki pancake.
The funniest gameplay visuals involved the characters’ actual moves. You’d have typical “Street Fighter” style characters, such as Ranma, Akane and Shampoo. Then you’d have the bizarre characters, such as Genma in his panda form. You could play as Mousse, who uses swords, a ball-and-chain, a swan and a yo-yo. The weirdest one, though, was Hikaru Gosunkugi. He wears a headband with candles on his ears. He can hit people with a big hammer and he can twirl around a straw man for his special move.
You’ll probably never laugh at a fighting game as much as you will laugh at “Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle” for the Super Nintendo. This game is a little hard to come by nowadays, but there are still plenty of copies available on eBay for as low as $6. So if you still have your Super Nintendo, you could at least enjoy this game for some quick laughs.
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