Welcome back, readers!
Have you ever had a moment in your life when something has been bugging you so much for a long time that you feel you must converse about it with someone before it completely eats you up inside—something that most other people might find to be a very minor, even petty, thing to waste any time thinking about? Well, guess what: I’m having a moment just like that right now. You see, not too long ago—July 8, to be precise—I’d chanced to watch a video on the Blip.TV channel of a well-known and much-respected YouTube video game enthusiast named SCXCR, who just also happens to share a blog here on WordPress.com with his friends, the River City Gamers. This particular video of his that I’d watched was the third installment of his Bloody Roar Retrospective, which he began on December 18, 2010, as a means of explaining the opinions he’d shared about Bloody Roar 4 in a review he did on the game back in November 3, 2007 on YouTube. Should any of you care to see any of these videos, feel free to click on the links below.
The thing is, too, that it wasn’t SCXCR’s video that put me in this state of mind. In fact, I was already thinking along these lines when I chose to watch his video as a means of understanding where this beloved yet criminally overlooked fighting game series went wrong, even though I already had a general idea of each of the game’s flaws even before watching this or either of the other two videos in SCXCR’s retrospective. After all, the guy’s quite the historian when it comes to video games and more times than not goes out of his way to dig up facts that most other gamers don’t already know about a game and to pinpoint specific weaknesses and strengths in the games he reviews, so I trust him more than most other game reviewers on YouTube, Blip, or any other video-sharing website to shed some light about the underrated classics and overrated messes of yesteryear as well as every game in between these two extremes. Not only that, but as I may have said before on this blog, I personally love the Bloody Roar franchise for introducing me to 3D fighting games in the first place, whether they were fully three-dimensional or simply 2.5D. If not for Bloody Roar 2 in particular, I probably never would have given the likes of Star Gladiator, Soul Blade, Tekkens 1 to 3, Battle Arena Toshindens 1 to 3, Evil Zone, Rival Schools, Warpath Jurassic Park, Dynasty Warriors, and so forth a chance. That’s not me insulting any of those games, either, as many of those I’ve just mentioned are games that I’ve come to like as well. Rather, what I’m stating is this: Even though it was the Bloody Roar games’ whole gimmick of being able to transform into a ferocious human-animal hybrid in mid-battle that ultimately drew me into playing them, the games nonetheless taught me that 3D fighting games could be every bit as fun as 2D brawlers—sometimes even more so, although we can surely explore that opinion later on, if anyone is interested. For right now, though, let’s stick with the topic of Bloody Roar.
Basically, there was plenty for me to like about the games form the Bloody Roar series. Not only was the control scheme smooth, functional, and easy to pick up on, but the gameplay in and of itself felt simple to learn, yet hard to master, which is what I respect in any game from any genre. After all, what fun can a game be if a gamer can either beat it in a single ten- to twenty-minute sitting or come close to disconnecting his or her console from his or her television and throwing the doggone thing out the window on account of his or her sheer, unbridled frustration with whatever game he or she had just played on it? Likewise, I won’t deny that the BR games had had their share of visual and audile appeal, what with their usually crisp, clear, and (save for, perhaps, Bloody Roar 4) colorful graphics and smooth, fluid animation as well as hard-hitting sound effects and—although it may be debatable—a very solid overall soundtrack. However, if there was anything that struck my fancy the most about the BR franchise more than any other series of fighting games—particularly with me being a writer and all—two things most readily come to my mind: the story of BR itself and the vast, striking, and fun cast of characters that said story centered upon. Sure, this very plot had its fair share of flaws, what with how its gaps in logic and missing tidbits of information made it feel incomplete much of the time, and even I have to admit that it took a page directly out of the X-Men comic book series with the whole “fear and loathing for those more evolved than us” story arc in BR 2. Heck, I even recognize how the original BR’s storyline had a hint of Resident Evil’s own plot (i.e., an evil corporation creating biologically superior soldiers to help them take over the world) as its general premise. Even so, these storylines did much to establish the very nature of Bloody Roar’s saga and would have continued to work if only Hudson Soft had been wise enough to maintain this general premise and expanded on some of the ideas they had presented in both the original BR and BR 2 (e.g., anti-zoanthrope “beast hunter” coalitions; Gado’s platoon in BR 2 killing an innocent, non-ZLF zoanthrope family (as discussed at the beginning in Jenny’s story in Story Mode); Hans and Greg’s possible involvement in the whole Zoanthrope Liberation Front rigmarole; additional post-Tylon incidents involving former Tylon employees like Hajime Busuzima; etc.). Not only that, but all the supernatural elements that Hudson had added to the overall plot in both BR 3 and BR 4 could have very well worked in conjunction with the modern sci-fi elements presented in the first two BR titles if melded in more cautiously and with greater attention paid to the franchise’s original premise. However, let’s face facts: Hudson Soft was careless in handling the Bloody Roar series as a whole, including this very storyline, and as the result of their carelessness, here we are, nearly nine full years since the very date of the North American release of Bloody Roar 4 with no additional installments to this franchise.
I know…quite sad, eh? Then again, you might only think so if you, as I am, are a fan of Bloody Roar. I’m sure that there are plenty of you out there reading this right now rolling your eyes and saying, “Dude, Dustin, ease up, would ya? Video game franchises come and go, just like so many other things in life. Stop dwelling on the past, then, and let it go.” For those of you who are thinking along these lines, I will admit that yes, you are right; things do indeed come and go in life, video game franchises included. Additionally, yes, I probably should ease up and let things be in regards to Bloody Roar. I mean, it’s a series that existed between 1997 and 2003, thus making it fifteen years old and only active for about the first six of those years, and heck, it’s not like I own the BR brand, and no matter how hard I or any other BR fan tries to persuade Konami—the company that had made Hudson Soft one of its wholly owned subsidiaries back in the January of 2011 and decided to completely absorb it into its own company a mere year later—they’re not going to do anything with this product of Hudson’s…right?
Well, before we even attempt to answer that question, let me say this: I’m not even worried about the revival of the Bloody Roar brand for my own sake anymore. After all, truth be told, I’ve been so wrapped up in so many of my own projects over the years (e.g., my current listing of e-books available at Smashwords.com and elsewhere on the literary market as well as my current work-in-progress, UWWX: The Underground Women’s Wrestling Xperiment) that there were times when BR was simply an afterthought, especially considering just how little Hudson Soft themselves were doing with the series between November 11, 2003 and their complete absorption into Konami on March 1 of this year. Such is something that I blame myself for, however, because if there’s something that I’ve learned from that whole ordeal, it’s that if you’re a fan of something and believe in it, even in spite of the many flaws it has that you yourself recognize, you celebrate that thing wholeheartedly, not halfheartedly. Because of this, though, I feel even more obligated to address the apparent demise of the Bloody Roar brand, even if only through this blog. After all, even though I don’t own any of the rights to the BR name and might not ever receive permission from the brand’s new owners at Konami to revive it via my next novel series, that doesn’t mean that I can’t share with you all my own particular version of how the Bloody Roar story from the original BR to BR 4. Believe me, though, I would love to write a Bloody Roar novel series one day in hopes of breathing some life back into this franchise that I’ve come to know and love, even well after its apparent death. Then again, let’s see how well I can succeed with my own material before I even think of making that pipe dream a reality. As such, here’s how this next “In Relation to My Work” miniseries is going to work:
With each new installment of this miniseries, I intend to give you all some insight into how I personally would reboot the Bloody Roar storyline from the original BR game to the much-ridiculed BR 4 and perhaps even every instance in between for the sake of tying loose ends. As I do so, I will try my best to stay true to the source material so as not to disrespect the original product and will only take creative liberties for the sake of connecting the five games in a fashion that helps the story stay true to its “modern science fiction” roots while also maintaining both a sense of cohesive logic between each installment and a commitment to a single overall theme that will surely evolve as the series progresses. After all, even though I strongly disagree with how Hudson Soft had handled the Bloody Roar story even since the first BR, I myself know better than to blatantly alienate my fellow fans and retell the saga that they, too, have grown to love just to satisfy myself. That being said, I know that not everyone will agree with the decisions I’ll be making in this unofficial reboot, seeing as every fan has his or her own idea on how the series should be handled, and that’s fine. In fact, I will gladly accept readers’ replies to each upcoming entry in this mini-series to take into account their ideas and criticisms, just so long as said criticisms are constructive and any and all ideas are helpful and do justice towards the Bloody Roar series as we all know it. Who knows? Maybe there are some BR fans out there who are willing to help me collect information on the series that I have otherwise overlooked in my many years being familiar with it (particularly in regards to the 2001 two-part manga by Maruyama Tomowo, Bloody Roar: The Fang, which I’ve only heard about and have never been fortunate enough to read) so as to make the reboot that much more complete. Will it guarantee to ever leave this blog and become an official product? Not likely. Granted, I myself am a published author who has his fair share of works available for the public to purchase, but even with that in mind, in the eyes of a major corporation like Konami, I’m just another random blogger on the Internet who just happens to be a huge Bloody Roar fan. Heck, even if I had the notoriety of Janet Evanovich, James Patterson, Suzanne Collins, Ian McEwan, or J.K. Rowling, Konami would still be reluctant to permit me the right to promote a licensed property of theirs by creating a novel series that revolves around it. With that in mind, then, this next little mini-series of mine will be little else than a fun pastime for me and, hopefully, an equally enjoyable experience for all you readers out there, regardless of whether or not you yourselves might be fans of Bloody Roar.
In the meantime, then, your support, as always, is appreciated, and if any of you out there are interested in this idea, please don’t hesitate to tell me so in a reply to this post. Otherwise, my current “In Relation to My Work” mini-series, “How Video Games Spur My Creativity,” will indeed continue, as will my “Poem of the Week” segment every Sunday. I will also be finishing up my current project, UWWX, so that I may be able to publish it on my author page at Smashwords.com by September 2012, and for those of you who enjoy my work and would like to support my ongoing literary endeavors, please do not hesitate to buy my books. The July Summer/Winter Sale is still going on, after all, and will only last until July 31 before the 25% discount coupon for any and all of my works (SSW25) expires, so you are encouraged to order your copy today, if you haven’t already done so. Aside from all that, however, thank you all for reading, and please stay tuned for my next “Poem of the Week” this upcoming Sunday, where I hope to share with you all a “blast from the past,” so to speak. Until then, take care, happy reading, and please follow SCXCR and his fellow River City Gamers here on WordPress.com at http://rivercitygamers.wordpress.com/!
Dustin M. Weber
PS: The following petition is for all Bloody Roar fans who would like the Bloody Roar series to receive either a straight-up sequel to its existing video game library or a reboot. You may mention this blog post if you wish in your message on the petition, but more importantly, please sign it to show your support for Konami reviving this underrated fighting game franchise. Your signature here would be much appreciated. Again, thanks!
Also, for the sake of convenience, here are the links to the official parts of this miniseries:
Part 1: July 23, 2012
Part 2: December 12, 2012
Part 3: February 2, 2013
Part 4: February 7, 2015
Part 5: August 23, 2015
Also, all Bloody Roar game cover pics courtesy of GameFAQs.com. Bloody Roar itself (c) 1997-2012 Hudson Soft Co., Ltd./2012 Konami Digital Entertainment. All opinions presented here, however, are my own.