Short Story of the Week: The Conviction of Charles Donovan Gregory

The Conviction of Charles Donovan Gregory
by Dustin M. Weber
April 7, 2017

March 25, 2017

Dear Vices:

It’s over.

At long last, I’ve decided to move on from you all and focus on that which I should have kept at the forefront of my mind this whole entire time. In fact, I’m actually pretty disgusted at the notion that I’ve succumbed to you for as long as I have—disgusted, that is, but not surprised. After all, with my will having been so weak for so long, why would I be surprised that I’ve leaned on you all the way I have? It wasn’t as if I’d had a broken leg, you know. I could have easily stood on my own two feet at the time, and quite frankly, I would have been much better off for doing so. In fact, if I was suffering from anything, it was from a slow, dull mind and a poor sense of self, and looking back nowadays, I’ve come to realize that the more I tuned to you, the worse each of these things got. Well, no more! I’m putting my foot down against it all. Starting today, I’m stepping away from each and every one of you so that I can put my life back together, get myself back on track, and finally earn for myself that which I should have earned years ago.

First off…video games. Now, don’t get me wrong. There have been plenty of times when I’ve drawn inspiration from you. Heck, the idea for this one book I’m working on right now came to me in part after I’d played one of you, and even in recent months, I’ve been laying the groundwork for whole entire franchises based on what I’ve made using whatever character creation mode some of you have offered your players. That being said, don’t expect me to be as into you as I used to be back in the day. Sure, you were a great diversion for me when I was a kid, and even when I was working my way through college, you were one of the best ways I could think of to blow off steam. Sadly, that was then, and now that I’ve got more pressing matters to attend to, I have to set you off to the side from here on out. You’re a hobby, after all—a diversion—and a very expensive one to keep up with as well. Take it from a guy who hasn’t bought a new console since college, save for when I replaced my PlayStation One once upon a time, which I rarely even play these days. Besides, being a full-grown adult who’s long been eager to accept the responsibilities expected of someone my age, I don’t have nearly as much time to spend on you as I did during my younger days. Then again, there have been times when I’ve felt that I should have focused more on my writing even back then, especially considering how much help I needed in that department. I don’t care if I was just a kid at the time, either. The fact remains that I loved to write then, too, and honestly, had I the mind to put more of my focus on my writing and less time piloting some person made of pixels or polygons across my TV screen and making him beat other people up, I could have very well made a prodigy of myself…or, at the very least, something more than what I am now. Ah, but who am I kidding? I am what I am, and I have only myself to blame for letting myself get as wrapped up into you as I have. See you later, then, video games, when I need a break…and only when I need a break.

Oh…and all you flash games? Don’t even get me started with you and all your mindlessly repetitive yet ironically charming and addictive glory. No disrespect, but seriously, consider yourselves dead to me from this point forward.

You’re next, pro wrestling…and no, that wasn’t meant to be a pun on Bill Goldberg’s catchphrase. All unintentional wordplay aside, I’ll be brutally honest with you: I’ve actually been done with you for quite a while. Yes, I still respect you as an art form, no matter how stupid you can be at times in your execution. Sure, there are still morons out there who love to crap all over you for being sports theater as opposed to a full-fledged sport, and as far as I’m concerned, they can all take their infantile, narrow-minded, condescending ignorance and shove it right back down their throats until they choke on it. Truth be told, though, their moronic mentality isn’t why I’ve turned away from you. Rather, it’s your own idiocy as an industry, as you just haven’t been that great since the spring of 2001 when Extreme Championship Wrestling went bankrupt and good ol’ Vinny Mac bought out World Championship Wrestling. Ever since then, the World Wrestling Federation has become World Wrestling Entertainment and hasn’t faced any major competition for the past sixteen-plus years—not even from Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, which was once the closest thing WWE had to a serious rival since WCW. Trust me, too, when I say that even I can’t begin to tell you the number of fans who’ve been predicting TNA’s ultimate demise to the point of placing bets on when it’ll at long last go out of business. Then again, my doing so would distract me from telling you about just how many other promotions have risen and fallen over the century as we all have known it so far as well as about those that had promised to launch, yet either a) have failed to do so or b) actually have, yet have turned out to be little more than independent promotions. All this in mind, I hope you can see part of the reason why WWE’s long been struggling to put on a consistently good product, even with the talent they have now and have had over the years on their roster and even when they try to give the fans what they want. Of course, I don’t envy the bookers—or writers, whichever they’d rather be called—one bit, seeing as no matter how many honest-to-goodness fans you as a business still have as a whole since your decline, there’s always going to be that one portion of your fanbase that’s full of nothing but screaming, cursing, fickle malcontents who are never satisfied with what they see from any wrestling show, yet are far too stupid to walk away, no matter how bitter they’ve become towards you. Then there are the mindless fanboys, fangirls, and trolls who constantly cause drama amongst the community for whatever excuse might come to mind who are no doubt making others’ enjoyment of you every bit as much a chore for your fans as the soreheads are. Hell, they’re probably just plain assholes, pure and simple, and nothing more. Whatever the case, pro wrestling, I’m glad I’ve stopped caring about you as a business before I ended up becoming one of these schmucks, as I know well enough at my age that it’s better for a person to leave what he or she loves when it doesn’t love him or her back rather than stick around and let it burn him or her. Come to think of it, I’m even gladder that I never became a pro wrestler myself. Otherwise, I’d have had to put up with a lot of the terrible mismanagement and general ignorance with which today’s wrestlers must cope—not that they’re wholly innocent when it comes to your overall product’s current lackluster state, but really, when even the wrestlers who have been stepping up their game are still struggling to get over with the masses, then honestly, you’ve got a serious problem on your hands.

Good luck, then, pro wrestling, for I may never come back to you as an industry, even though I still appreciate you as an art form and still hope you survive so that the next generation will get something out of you as I had back in the day when you were arguably much easier for me and so many other people to enjoy.

Finally, there’s you, YouTube, and all the videos I’ve seen on you, which have long been by and far the biggest distraction I’ve ever given myself throughout the course of my writing career. Now, I’ll admit that just like I’ve said about video games, having become familiar with you hasn’t been the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. After all, how else would I’ve ever found out about some of the things that have inspired some of my work? I can only begin to tell you, for instance, how nice it’s been listening to some of the videos on your website that have music that I either remember from my younger days or hadn’t heard before but have come to love—both of which have made for some okay background music for when I’ve been working on my writing. I’ve also learned to enjoy some of the old movies and television shows that I’ve managed to watch on your website, thanks to the users who’ve uploaded them. I’ve even seen video game footage that has brightened my day on one occasion or another, both with and without commentary from the person who was recording it. Unfortunately, even with all this in mind, you’re not exactly all peaches and cream, if you know what I mean. For one thing, just looking at some of the videos you’ve hosted since your inception in 2005 has reminded me in the worst way that it “takes all kinds,” as the saying goes, as a good handful of your videos have shown me some of the most discouraging archetypes of humanity I’ve ever seen: fried-brained conspiracy theorists, small-minded political loudmouths, embarrassingly macho e-toughs, perverted dark humor aficionados, oversensitive drama queens and other blatant pot-stirrers, screaming lunatics, narcissistic brats, potty-mouthed troglodytes, droning deadheads, over-the-top “comedy” acts and other desperate wannabe celebrities…you know…the pride and joy of the Internet (sarcasm). Sure, I know better than to stupidly click on these videos myself and give these waking examples of humanity’s grotesque imperfection the benefit of a view, but there have been times when I came across a video that I was hoping to like, only to discover that the person who posted it was more of a fool and/or scumbag than I’d previously assumed. I’m not even talking the blatant click-baiters who use false titles and thumbnail pics to draw in unwitting audience members, either, but rather simple guys and gals who make videos similar to the ones I’ve come to like over the years, only to prove themselves inferior in comparison to the examples with which I’d become familiar. This is especially true when the narrator of a given video happens to present his or her opinion on a given matter in a decidedly snobbish or ill-tempered tone or with information that he or she clearly pulled out of his or her derriere. Seriously, am I really that unreasonable to expect reviews and rants on the Internet to be honest, straightforward, unbiased, and sensible as possible, regardless of the presenter’s disdain towards the topic he or she is discussing? Don’t even get me started, either, with these reviews in which the presenter is attempting to portray himself or herself as a “character” of sorts. I’m sorry, but I listen to reviews to be informed on a given item rather than entertained, and the steeper the precedent that entertainment takes over information, the less worth the review in question has to me.

Needless to say, YouTube, I’ve learned the necessity of being picky when it comes to listening to and watching videos on your website. From now on, then, I’ll be using your music videos as background accompaniment for my writing sessions and saving the TV, film, gameplay, and similarly themed videos for after I’ve completed my daily writing objectives. Not only that, but I’ve promised myself to be especially selective when it comes to videos from the later category, as I’m more or less done with all the negativity that I’ve absorbed from those that I’ve watched already. Trust me…my work will benefit in the end when I adopt a more positive attitude and cut out all the nastiness I’ve taken on in my life at this point.

So that’s the scoop, vices: I’m moving on, and I’m doing so for my own good. Please don’t take it personally, either, for even though I keep calling you my “vices,” I’m the one who’s really at fault here, as I’ve said before. All this time, I should have squared my shoulders, put my nose to the grindstone, and taken care of business like a man rather than bury myself in each of you whenever I would so much as have the slightest bit of writer’s block. Alas, such was not the case, and it wasn’t until recently that I’ve finally come to terms with the problems I’ve been causing for myself by wallowing in each you, falling behind in my own deadlines and all. It’ll take me a nice long while before I’ll be able to forgive myself, too, but hey, if Roy Knable can come to terms with his TV addiction in Stay Tuned, then I, too, can come to terms with my overreliance on you three things. Better sooner than later, yes, but better later than never, and from now on, as was the case for me during my schooling days, it’s going to be work before pleasure and not vice-versa. Otherwise, I’ll never get anything done to save my soul, and I’ll only further drown in my own stagnation.

Thank you all for your understanding, and for now…goodbye.

Regards,
Charles Donovan Gregory

*****

PS: All credit for the pics used in the above article goes to as follows:

MoveMeQuotes.com
PlayStation History Collection 1 – Takara Tomy 1/6 Scale Gashapon Video Game Systems! by INVISIGOTH
10 Things Pro Wrestling Fans Hate about Pro Wrestling by Ben Flanagan (AL.com)
YouTube.com
Success.com/Shutterstock.com

The short story above, however, is the author’s own.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
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Poem of the Week: Game Over…?

Game Over…?
June 12, 2016

Game time?
Game over.
Overwhelmed,
Over your head.
Head without logic,
Head without reason—
Reason to believe,
Reason to understand.
Understand what’s going on.
Understand what you’re doing—
Doing to yourself,
Doing with your time,
Time better spent elsewhere,
Time wasted—
Wasted on the trivial,
Wasted on recreation,
Recreation meant to be fun
Recreation meant to be a break—
Break from the grind,
Break from reality,
Reality unavoidable,
Reality closing in,
In on you,
In on all you do.
Do something!
Do something now—
Now while you still can!
Now is the time—
Time to make amends,
Time to make up for it all,
All the flunked exams,
All the blown tasks—
Tasks at school and work,
Tasks at home,
Home amongst friends,
Home amongst family,
Family spurned,
Family who still love you—
You in spite of your habits,
You in spite of your preoccupation,
Preoccupation with the imaginary,
Preoccupation with another world,
World where you don’t really exist,
World where you can never stay—
Stay and become one with,
Stay and forever exist,
Exist among the immortal,
Exist among the impossible…
Immortal…
Impossible.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
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Bonus Poem of the Week: Something Has Got to Change

Something Has Got to Change
October 5, 2015

It’s not about talent anymore. It’s not about sharing a gift.
It’s not about doing what it takes to give the business a lift.
It’s not about working hard or being original or having fun.
It’s about pandering to the lowest common denominator, hon.

Gone are the gritty gladiators who scratch and claw their way
To the top of the mountain that’s their field. Apparently, that’s passé.
Instead, we have whiny men-children who cry about their life lot
Who spend most of their time wallowing in nostalgia, self-pity, and snot.

Damned be the innocent romance so charming and heartfelt.
Why bother with wholesome purity with blatant smut flying off shelves—
The kind that makes even old ladies swoon and rave like teenage girls
Of “dream men” who’re really tortuous beasts ‘neath their boyish curls?

Why bother trying to be witty when you can instead be lewd?
That’s the kind of humor that sells these days: loud and crude.
Why try to be clever and subtle when you can shock the masses
And be an insensitive creep all you want to appeal to other jackasses?

Gone are those who’ve moved things forward with tales vibrant and fresh,
Putting new spins on what we know and crafty notions to the test.
Instead, we’ve more of the same old sludge clogging up our brain pipes—
Recycled rubbish from just yesterday—fad-fueled, self-dating tripe.

What happened to the revolution? Where’s all the spark and fire?
Where are the courage and drive that once took entertainment higher?
Where’s the reward for taking a risk and being open and true?
Trust me, if you think these practices still matter, I’ve news for you:

It’s all about making money these days—the good ol’ Almighty Dollar—
And getting the masses to speak of you, no matter how it is they holler.
Who cares how you get your attention when folks foolishly get behind
That which satisfies their shrunken standards and pleases their warped minds?

That’s how things have gotten now, and yeah, it sickens me, too,
When people buy crap for purchasing’s sake just ‘cause said crap is new
And read, watch, and listen to anything just to fill in the void
Of whatever idle time they have, and what’s more that gets me annoyed

Is how the truly wonderful works of each same industry
Are ignored by the masses and media both—which also includes you and me—
Never to see the light of day, save for maybe those who try
To root for them through the dirt and ensure their legends never die.

This pattern has got to stop somehow. Something has got to change.
Entertainment’s been trash for far too long and must be rearranged
So that the hacks who’ve become millionaires can stop hogging the sun
And talented folks can take over and produce quality works for everyone.

After all, many are wising up to the swill they’ve been fed
For so many years, and they, too, now wish this era was dead.
Sadly, there are still many who don’t see the warning signs
Of what may soon be, should we all leave our principles behind.

It’s thus up to all of us to ensure the quality of old return
And that into Hell’s fires go all the trash, forever to burn
Into naught but a mound of ash, for that’s how they should be
So that talent once again shines for all time. Now, who’s with me?

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com

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In Relation to My Work: How Would I Reboot the Bloody Roar Series? part 5

Finally...we tackle the most controversial game in the Bloody Roar franchise.

Finally…we tackle the most controversial game in the Bloody Roar franchise.

Welcome back, readers!

This has been a long time coming, but I’m now at long last here to discuss the fifth and [possibly] final installment of my reboot of the Bloody Roar franchise. As you can probably guess, this last installment shall be discussing the reboot of Bloody Roar 4, the final and most hated installment of the original BR video game series. Why such a nasty reputation? Well, to begin with, there was the whole game mechanic that gave each character’s beast form its own distinct health bar that replaced each fighter’s beast gauge, which had been a well-established staple within the rest of the series that owed a lot to each previous game’s sense of strategy. On a similar note were BR 4’s numerous glitches, from graphical slowdown to disappearing timers and health bars during gameplay. The game also had unaltered character costumes from BR Extreme/Primal Fury (which went against another long-standing BR tradition by that point), several unaltered arenas (save for being tinted darker to reflect the game’s overall tone) also from BR E/PF, force fields that prevented players from truly interacting with the environments, ill-fitting music (as opposed to the well-established instrumental rock of previous games), and—for the sake of this blog entry—a sloppily executed and logically devoid story that diverged so much from the original BR narrative that it didn’t even feel like it belonged to the series. Remember how the first couple of BR games had a contemporary sci-fi vibe going for them a la Resident Evil and X-Men? Well, the same can’t be said for BR 4, which follows the story of BR 3 with a tale so rooted in the supernatural that it’s more reminiscent of a fantasy tale than anything else…a high fantasy tale at that, too. Worse yet, one could even go as far as to claim that the story centered itself so much around three of the four new characters whom Hudson Soft had introduced into the plot that it rendered most of the rest of the cast completely inconsequential. Sure, Yugo has been able to remain somewhat of a protagonist, but to what degree? Also, how important has Alice become come BR 4? What about Bakuryu? Long? Shina? Uriko? I could go on. Heck, things were so bad in this respect that if one didn’t know any better, one could have sworn that Hudson was trying to promote Nagi as the new lead for the series, which would have been a disastrous indeed if they’d followed through with it in later installments, and not just because Nagi’s beast form didn’t look anything like an actual animal, either. Honestly, that’s like a wrestling promotion making its marquee star take a backseat to its latest rookie and pushing the latter as its new feature attraction without giving the sot a chance to prove himself or herself against even the lowliest jobber, much less the company’s (former) main player.

All things considered, though, I still believe that just like the story of Bloody Roar 3 (and Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury, for that matter), the whole thing could have worked for Bloody Roar 4 if only Hudson Soft had taken their time and crafted their narrative with a little bit more finesse. Alas, they didn’t, which already hurt the credibility of a game that was already destined to peeve off a good chunk of the BR fanbase. Needless to say, I hope to explain in this article how I personally would rewrite BR 4’s and make it more compatible with the rest of the series. In doing so, I intend to make the new characters from this game fit in more tightly with the rest of the BR cast, all the while trying to stay true to each new character’s role within the BR universe and eliminate only those elements that work against the series’ overall plot as it had been previously established. Without further ado, then, let the reboot begin!

Things in a Nutshell

To sum things up, a year has passed since the events of Bloody Roar 3, and though the crisis surrounding the X-Genome Code and the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts has mostly come to a close, the Unborn is still running amok, using Xion as its host as it continues down its path of destruction. Outraged with the Unborn’s presence, Gaia, the spirit of the earth herself, has brought it upon herself to summon forth a great dragon to help dispose of the foul aberration. In doing so, a stone seal happens to break within the confines of a remote temple hidden somewhere in Japan, and a thirty-seven-year-old Buddhist monk named Rao “Ryoho” Mamurasaki finds himself transforming into the very dragon Gaia had created to help protect the world from creatures such as the Unborn that would threaten the planet’s natural cycle of life and death. The dragon proves to be too powerful a creature for Ryoho to keep in check, however, and sure enough, it’s up to his nine-year-old daughter figure Mana—a young miko with the power of the nine-tailed fox of Japanese lore—to reseal the great beast, although she cannot do it alone and must summon forth strong zoanthropes to her and Ryoho’s temple and have them help her complete such a task.

The Unborn revealed!

The Unborn revealed!

Such is how the original BR 4 begins, and yes, it initially comes off as kind of an awkward plot to follow up those that involved underground scientific experimentation and violent conflict between zoanthropes and baseline humanity. Even so, I can at least credit Hudson Soft with trying to blend the paranormal nature of lycanthropes with the preexisting light science fiction theme that the first two games had already established in an attempt to flesh out a sort of mythology that would explain why zoanthropes exist in the world of BR. However, as I’d mentioned earlier, the whole thing more or less backfired on them, and what fans received instead was something that sounded far more fitting for a traditional RPG than a hard-hitting fighting game involving werebeasts. I also personally dislike how this narrative nullifies the relevance of both the Tylon Corporation and the ZLF, thus stunting the continuity of two of the most influential antagonist organizations in the entire franchise. This especially holds true for Tylon, whose ill-intentioned experiments have played a significant part of BR’s story collective for at least the first two games, and even BR E/PF had shades of Tylon spattered throughout it, what with the experiments that were going on behind the scenes of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes’ Ultimate Zoanthrope Fighting Tournament. Then again, this plot doesn’t even do that great a follow-up to the plots of either BR 3 or BR E/PF, either. Sure, it mentions the X-Genome Code debacle from Bloody Roar 3, but it does so incorrectly by referencing XGC-free zoanthropes rioting across the globe rather than those who were carrying the Code—not that the latter were necessarily “rioting,” either, so much as panicking on account of there being such a high number of fatalities amongst their kind for reasons they could only begin to fathom. There is also the mention of earthquakes during the XGC incident, which have apparently only worsened presently, although the only true earthquake to take place at all happens around Ryoho and Mana’s temple, which is where Alice starts off in the game aiding those whose homes have been devastated. As for Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury, there’s no mention of it at all, which makes me almost wonder just how cannon BR E/PF’s story is at all within the series. Sure, BR 4 borrows a lot of the models from previously existing characters as well as several of the arenas—most notably the aquarium and alongside the highway—from Extreme/Primal Fury, but as far as storylines go, there’s no connection at all between the two games.

Personally, I’d have the events of Bloody Roar 4 directly follow those of BR Extreme/Primal Fury. To put matters simply, Yugo Ogami and the rest of the World of Coexistence have finally exposed and put an end to the clandestine experiments that the renegade Tylon scientists who had founded the Kingdom of Zoanthropes had been conducting at the behest of the Zoanthrope Liberation Front (See Part 4 of my reboot for more details on this particular arc.). Once that happens, order returns to the KoZ, which the United Nations officially recognizes as a self-governing political entity, and the founders are at long last allowed to return to their own homelands after spending years in isolation following their escape from Tylon’s infamous South American laboratory. As they all come home, many of them—including Hiroshi Nonomura, Mitsuko’s long-estranged husband and Uriko’s father—share with the world the medical findings from the studies they had conducted on zoanthropy and its many unique medical conditions. Among such information are the scientists’ findings of the X-Genome Code and even the possibility of hybrid zoanthropes such as Uranus, whose endocrine systems produce twice the amount of Factor B during the “beastorization” process than those of ordinary, single-species zoanthropes (i.e., most everybody else in the BR saga), making them more powerful and dangerous fighters as a result. Such research gives other scientists worldwide a better understanding of how zoanthropy works and as such a better understanding of how to treat the various medical and psychological conditions that zoanthropes suffer in addition to those that plague regular humans.

Xion the Unborn is still on the loose, and all the while spewing the most poorly translated dialogue imaginable...even by Bloody Roar standards.

Xion the Unborn is still on the loose, and all the while spewing the most poorly translated dialogue imaginable…even by Bloody Roar standards.

Unfortunately, old sensitivities more often than not take quite a while to die, particularly when it comes to the friction between baseline humans and their zoanthropic compatriots. As such, it’s no surprise that with much of this new information—especially that concerning hybrid zoanthropes—many humans begin to distrust zoanthropes as a whole, hence the reformation of several beast hunter parties as per the days of Bloody Roar 2. Violence begins to resurge across the globe at the hands of these groups, and the WOC once again has its own hands full as they try to put these radicals in their place and restore global order. Worse yet, however, is how the stage has been set for the ZLF’s return to prominence, and despite the Front’s infamy from previous years, many zoanthropes feel pressured to align themselves with them in hopes of seeking salvation from their increasingly brutal beast hunter assailants. Even highly esteemed public figures amongst zoanthropekind seem to be jumping on the ZLF bandwagon with the claim that human prejudice has grown too strong to tolerate and that violence is no longer avoidable. The WOC feels the effects of this firsthand, too, when a hefty percentage of their own kind resign from the organization to support the ZLF and their promise of a safer world from beast hunters and their ilk.

The Who’s Who of MY Bloody Roar 4

Yugo, Alice, and Bakuryu: The three staple protagonists of the Bloody Roar series and all back for more action in BR 4

Yugo, Alice, and Bakuryu: The three staple protagonists of the Bloody Roar series and all back for more action in BR 4

Now that we’ve set the scene, it should be pretty easy to determine who’ll be in it. To begin with, it’d be a sin to exclude the likes of Yugo, Alice, and Kenji (a.k.a. Bakuryu), seeing as all three of them have been staple characters since the first Bloody Roar game (or, in Bakuryu’s case, BR 2) as well as the three members of the World of Coexistence around whom the BR saga has revolved. I could very easily have them all act as one unit, too, and work together to see to the ZLF’s defeat, but that wouldn’t do much at all to firmly establish each character’s role within the overall saga, and believe me when I say that if there was one thing that hurt at least most of the returning characters in the original BR 4, it was, as I’d mentioned earlier, their reduced importance in the game’s story. That being said, I’d have Yugo enter the fray out of responsibility as the WOC’s leader, concerned for the safety of zoanthropes and regular humans alike in the face of the ZLF’s return to world dominance. On his mind in particular is the safety of his close friend and fellow WOC member Nagi, who has just started to recuperate from the ordeal she’d endured from my reboot of BR 3. I plan to go into greater detail when I discuss Nagi’s role in the story, but to sum it up briefly, let’s just say that Yugo notices that something’s simply not right with her and makes it a secondary priority of his to discover the truth about her during his investigation of the ZLF’s schemes. Alice, meanwhile, has officially decided to work for the WOC fulltime following the events of BR E/PF and, upon doing so, has been fulfilling her duties to the organization by taking care of a Buddhist monk and his foster daughter who have been recovering from their own respective complications from the X-Genome Code. Upon making a routine visit to the duo’s temple, though, she arrives to see that the place has been ransacked and that the monk and his foster daughter are missing. Fearing the worst, she comes to suspect that they have been abducted—allegedly by beast hunters at first, but sure enough, she crosses paths with the monk’s daughter, who tells her that the ZLF are behind her father’s disappearance. Upon learning this, Alice feels her inner avenger get the better of her and sets off with the young girl in tow (against her better judgment) to rescue the monk at all costs. Finally, Kenji/Bakuryu may start off this whole adventure strictly out of his duties as his big brother’s second-in-command, but as the plot thickens, he finds himself engaging in a rivalry that I’d established in my BR 3 reboot with Reiji. Could this be the final showdown between these two combatants and, by extension, their respective clans? Who knows? All I can really say is that the battle between these two is bound to be fierce.

Nagi and Reiji, Hudson Soft's female lead elect and newest antagonist for BR 4

Nagi and Reiji, Hudson Soft’s female lead elect and newest antagonist for BR 4

Nagi and Reiji will be appearing in this reboot as well, although I promise that neither of them will be quite as “front and center” as they were in the original Bloody Roar 4. Nagi’s story I’ve already briefly covered, but to elaborate, she’s almost fully recovered from the events she’s endured during the course of my version of BR 3. I say “almost” because following her defeat while under the control of my reboot’s chief antagonist Andreas Drakos, Nagi’s been spending time in the hospital having the effects of not only her brainwashing reversed, but also her contraction of the X-Genome Code via Drakos’s victims’ blood samples. She hasn’t fully been purged of her then-acquired zoanthropy just yet, though, of which he doctors have made her aware. She refuses to sit back any longer than she already has, however, and against her physicians’ orders, she springs back into action, using what’s left of her chimeric beast form and the Factor B that her brain has been producing since her becoming a zoanthrope to help thwart the ZLF’s menace and hopefully avenge herself against the man who was responsible for her transformation in the first place. Reiji, on the other hand, has become a full-fledged member of the Front and has been serving them as a hitman of sorts, taking out potential threats to the ZLF’s rise to power. He’s especially focused on eliminating Kenji as per their respective clans’ generations-old rivalry. Only time will tell, sadly, if Reiji will be able to quench his blood thirst or if the present Bakuryu will put an end to the former Yatagarasu’s rampage.

Ryoho and Mana

Ryoho and Mana

Additionally, my reboot will indeed include Rao “Ryoho” Mamurasaki and his adopted daughter Mana, two ecclesiastics who—according to their original backstory—operate out of a hidden temple somewhere in Japan that is dedicated to the practice of both Buddhism and Shinto and has managed to escape the Meiji Restoration law that separated Buddhist and Shinto religious activities. In my reboot, however, Ryoho and Mana’s temple, though it is located a bit off the beaten path, isn’t exactly quite so “underground” for reasons that SCXCR explains in his sixth and final installment of the Bloody Roar video game series when discussing the duo as in-game characters (See minute mark 18:58.). In fact, the way I would have it, Ryoho is actually a relatively well-known and highly respected figure amongst zoanthrope kind who preaches unto his followers and anyone else who visits his temple the virtues of patience and tolerance, encouraging his fellow zoanthropes to work and live in harmony both with each other and with baseline humanity so as to ensure the wellbeing of the world at large. Likewise, Ryoho and Mana are both natural born hybrid zoanthropes, each the offspring of two zoanthropic parents as per Uriko’s case (See my reboot of the original Bloody Roar for more information.) and very powerful individually at that. So powerful are they, in fact, that when the ZLF become aware of them, they immediately set out to ransack the temple and abduct Ryoho. Mana thankfully escapes and manages to reach Alice, whom she tells everything and whom she inststantly accompanies as the two venture forth to rescue Mana’s foster father. Now, I’ll admit that this refreshed story does indeed break up the duo as a playable tag team, but rest assured, BR gamers, that Ryoho’s gameplay as a single solitary fighter would remain unchanged from how it was originally…give or take a few balancing issues, of course. Similarly, this story would allow Mana to become a playable character in her own right with karate being both her and Ryoho’s chosen fighting style with notable variations in attacks as appropriate for their differentiations in size and beast form (Dragon versus Ninetail).

Just when you thought the Nonomura family could live happily ever after following their reunification following Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury...

Just when you thought the Nonomura family could live happily ever after following their reunification following Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury…

Speaking of abductions, I’ll also be bringing back all three members of the Nonomura family as playable characters: Hiroshi as a captive of the ZLF, who want to milk him of his most recently attained research so that they can use it to create new super soldiers, and Uriko and Mitsuko as a mother-daughter team who set out together to once more rescue the beloved patriarch of their family. Additionally, I’d throw in element to Uriko’s story where she ends up proving to her mother along their journey that she is indeed growing up and able to take care of herself whenever the situation calls for it. No doubt this would be a double-edged sword for Mitsuko, who would be proud to know that her biological daughter is coming into her own and able to make it into the world, yet sad al the same of having lost the opportunity to bond with her the way moist other mothers do with their children. I would also be sure to have Uriko show continued and consistent interest in her father’s research on account of her experiences from earlier installments in the series in an effort to fully understand the nature of her zoanthropy. Is the possibility still there for her to become the big, ghastly chimera she’d once been able to become in the first BR? If so, how well would she be able to handle her fully realized power? Such are the questions she asks herself as she ponders her dad’s research and further steps away from the over-the-top childlike demeanor that Hudson Soft had given her in the original BR.

Xion, Stun, and Busuzima

Xion, Stun, and Busuzima

I’d be downright foolish to exclude Xion from this reboot, considering that he was the one responsible—at least in part—for Nagi’s zoanthropy. Still troubled by the crimes he’s committed on account of his strand of the X-Genome Code and its effects upon his mind, Xion seeks out the aid of a medical expert who can revert him back to a regular human. Unfortunately, the expert he seeks is Dr. Hiroshi Nonomura, whom the ZLF have abducted. Seeing this as an opportunity to practice compassion as Long had advised him at the end of Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury as well as a chance to seek redemption for all that he’s done as the Unborn, Xion sets out to rescue Hiroshi, all the while coping with many a foul memory of his being a puppet for Andreas Drakos back in the BR 3 days as well as the distrust he has earned from each and every potential ally with whom he crosses paths, including Yugo, Mitsuko, and Uriko. He won’t be the only one fighting for his piece of mind, though, as Stun will be out and about trying to piece his memory back together following the experiments from BR E/PF that brought him back to life. Piecing his life back together shouldn’t be too hard, either, what with all the familiar faces he’ll surely run into, the least of which not being Busuzima, who’s recently become depressed on account of his continually incomplete research concerning the Ultimate Life Object. At a loss for what to do next, Busuzima comes to learn about the discoveries that Hiroshi and his fellow KoZ founders had made concerning hybrid zoanthropes and wonders if such is the direction in which he needs to take his experiment. With his ambition suddenly reignited, he is convinced that the perfect test subject is out there unwittingly waiting for him to begin his latest string of tests on, from Xion with his bizarre Unborn form and the half-Unborn Nagi to the likes of Ryoho and Mana to even Hiroshi’s own daughter Uriko, who used to be a hybrid zoanthrope herself once upon a time. The options are endless for the good doctor, as are the extremes to which he’ll go to fulfill his destiny.

Alan and Jane "Shina" Gado, back together for one more battle

Alan and Jane “Shina” Gado, back together for one more battle

Next, with the ZLF at large once more, I find it only fitting to reintroduce Gado and Shina into the mix. On one hand is Shina, whom Gado initially calls upon to rescue Ryoho and Mana from the Front when the news breaks about their abduction. As she sets off to fulfill her duty as a peacekeeper and sworn enemy of the very terrorist cabal who’d tricked her into training recruits for them back in my reboot of BR E/PF, Gado sits back behind his desk and becomes frustrated with the notion that he, as a United Nations commissioner, is forbidden to directly involve himself with the Front’s resurgence. Risking his removal from office within the UN, he sets foot onto the battlefield once more to put an end to the coalition of radicals that he’d once been suspected of founding back in the days of Bloody Roar 2. This thus leads to a heated confrontation between father and daughter later on in the game in which Shina accuses Gado of not trusting her as a mercenary to fulfill the very mission he’d hired her to complete in the first place—a situation that should offer a dose of comforting familiarity to BR fans without fully resetting the pair’s narrative.

Long, Lanfa, and Shenlong

Long, Lanfa, and Shenlong

Meanwhile, Long’s foster sister Lanfa has recently been abducted by the ZLF, and in a manner similar to Bakuryu’s situation in Bloody Roar 2, they brainwash her into becoming their latest recruit. It is therefore up to Long to find her and help bring her back to her senses so that the two can work together to thwart the Front once and for all…assuming, of course, that neither of them end up crossing paths with and end up getting beaten up by Shenlong, who has been keeping a long profile since the events of BR E/PF until the Front once again “invites” him to partake in their conquest over humanity. Tired of all the grossly inconvenient “adventures” he’s been on along the way, he refuses the Front’s offer to reunite with them, only to be brainwashed as well to become the same arrogant, ruthless, bloodthirsty antagonist he used to be back in BR 2. Only time will tell, sadly, if he can snap out of his delusional mental state or if his brainwashing ends up being permanent, thereby returning him to his proud, violent, and pitiless way of life as ZLF puppet leader until his ultimate demise.

Hans, Jenny, and Greg

Hans, Jenny, and Greg

Also investigating the ZLF’s activities are Hans, Jenny, and Greg, all of whom hope to discover the identity of the Front’s true leader and either bring him or her to justice or an end to said leader’s life. Hans most certainly could go either way, although he would no doubt try to keep his bloodthirsty proclivities in check and apprehend the ZLF’s head honcho on behalf of his employers within the UN. Sadly, he has yet to fully overcome the shellshock he has endured over his many years adventuring within this reboot as well as the psychological complications he has endured from his strand of the XGC. Then again, the possibility of this mission being the one to help him cope once and for all is there, seeing as the man who originally discovered the Code just might be able to help him put an end to his mental suffering…assuming, of course, that he can rescue Dr. Nonomura to begin with. Jenny’s mission is similar, although the spy agency for which she works has given her strict instructions to assassinate the ZLF’s ringleader at all costs. Then again, who’s to say that she won’t be able to dig up some information on her own origin and zoanthropic condition along the way (See Part 2 of my reboot for more information.) and even run into the man from whom she’d been cloned for one definitive battle between the two of them? Greg, in contrast, is simply out to detain the Front’s head cheese, pure and simple, having finally come to grips with his strand of the X-Genome Code and returning to action for the first time since the events of BR 2. Seeing as it is his first time back on the field, he finds himself followed by son Nathan, who wants him to return home and rest some more while he carries out his mission and collar the ZLF’s head cheese. This thus sets up some contention between father and son, with the former being too stubborn to let the latter deprive him of his professional responsibilities while also posing the question of whether or not the duo can set their differences aside and work together in smashing the Front once and for all.

Obviously, there’s no point in having a storyline revolve around the ZLF without having members of the Front itself as playable characters. As such, Lance and Gayle from my versions of BR 2 and BR E/PF will definitely return. Lance, for starters, is still the leader of the Zoanthrope Liberation Front and is more determined than ever to avenge his family’s death at human hands by employing his latest “recruits” against anyone who should oppose the front’s quest for zoanthrope superiority, including such hybrid zoanthropes as Ryoho. Gayle will be back as well as a reluctant member of the Front whom Lance has more or less blackmailed to remain in service by denying her the right to reverse the effects of the experiments that she’d undergone in my BR 2 reboot and becoming “the enemy” as a result. She therefore has to keep her motives to herself as she progresses through the course of the game, brooding all the while about the fate she’s brought upon herself and her apparent inability to put an end to her situation one way or another. These two won’t be alone, however, for I also plan on introducing two of Lance’s top operatives, Iwao Otami and Funani Tshabalala. To begin with, Iwao is a dock hand from Japan who’s been down on his luck in recent times on account of his strand of the X-Genome Code and the complications it has had on his body and mind. Worse yet is how his income was low enough as it was before his complications set in, and because he’s had to take so many days off from work to recuperate, such expenses are only hitting him and his family harder. Needless to say, when Lance hears of his plight, he immediately enlists him onto the ZLF with the promise of not only making the money he needs to pay off his medical aid, but also earning a more affluent way of life for him and his family as a whole. Iwao is thus quite loyal to Lance and fights alongside him with his puroresu fighting style. Funani, on the other hand, hails from South Africa—a nation with a long history of racial tension (no thanks, in part, to apartheid) and limited healthcare (no thanks to, of all things, HIV/AIDS). Needless to say, she’s faced quite a bit of prejudice in her life as well as very limited aid for the complications she’s suffered in the past from her strand of the XGC. She’s since understandably grown fed up with her old way of life and has joined the ZLF in hopes of scoring some serious comeuppance against those who’ve held her down in the past. Her beast form is that of a parrot, and her chosen martial art happens to be Engolo, a martial art from southern Angola and an alleged precursor to the more readily recognized Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira.

Golan "Ganesha" Draphan, exiled from the Kingdom of Zoanthropes until he can prove his loyalty to the royal family

Golan “Ganesha” Draphan, exiled from the Kingdom of Zoanthropes until he can prove his loyalty to the royal family

Finally, we have Ganesha, who had only been incapacitated at the end of my reboot of Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury after having avenged his village at the hands of a Tylon-controlled Cronos. Regardless of whether or not the KoZ’s kind-hearted yet naïve prince and his burly and [at first] loyal bodyguard actually make it to the finals of the first annual Ultimate Zoanthrope Fighting Tournament, I’d still have the pair of them face off against one another with Cronos not taking too kindly to either his defeat at the hands of the former Golan Draphan or the big man’s motives for taking him down in the first place. Still, Ganesha’s apparent act of treason isn’t enough for the young prince to see to the guy’s execution or even imprisonment, but rather to send him out into the world to find out about and thwart the ZLF’s plans of conquest as an act of loyalty to the kingdom. This situation could make room for an interesting twist, too. After all, even though Ganesha would definitely start out wanting to squash the former infiltrators of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes and prove his commitment to serving the KoZ and its ruling family, he still remains a prime enough subject for the ZLF to target and turn against his own nation and ultimately make into yet another one of their soldiers, thus widening the rift between him and Cronos even more.

Bloody Roar Beast Corps 4

Last but not least is the possibility for the official last chapter in my reboot of the original Bloody Roar franchise, Bloody Roar Beast Corps 4. It is in this fourth installment of the BRBC saga that Paul, Sonja, Mireille, and Yao unite for one last run in an attempt to bring the Zoanthrope Liberation Front down for good. The whole premise isn’t too different from BRBC 3, either (See my fourth installment of this reboot for more info on that game.). Basically, the player takes on the role of one of the four members of the Beast Corps and ventures across the globe beating up ZLF operatives as his or her chosen zoanthrope hunts down the cabal’s elusive leader and tries to bring him to justice. Fang and Mashiro will come back to lend the Corps a hand this time around, too, as will the Create-a-Hero mode for those gamers who prefer to create a new ally or two to aid the Beast Corps in their mission. I’ve also pretty much given away whom the bosses in this game would be earlier in this article: Lance, Gayle, Iwao, Funani, Shenlong, Reiji, Lanfa, and Ryoho—ZLF loyalists and brainwashed servitors alike joining forces in order to keep the Beast Corps at bay so that they may ultimately take over the world and establish their pro-zoanthrope dominion over humanity. Whether or not this battle will result in the closure of the Bloody Roar franchise as a whole is still very much up in the air, however, as the deciding factor will ultimately be where the story can go from here once things come to a close. Is there a force out there that’s even more powerful and organized waiting in the wings of this years-long conflict waiting to spring out of the woodwork and possibly succeed where the ZLF had failed? Will the Beast Corps—or, for that matter, the World of Coexistence—be ready for such opposition in the instance that it does rear its ugly head? We’ll just have to wait and see.

BR4 Nagi, Reiji, and RyohoThis hereby concludes my fifth installment to my Bloody Roar reboot series. Thank you all who have been following this topic since I started way back in the July of 2012, and I wholeheartedly apologize for the wait. As of right now, I have only a vague idea of whether or not I’ll introduce a sixth installment, much less when I’ll post it in the instance that I am. I will say this, however: I think it’s a shame that the Bloody Roar game series hasn’t carried on beyond BR 4 and that it more or less died when and how it did. Sure, I know these games get a lot of criticism today for being “button mashers,” amongst other things, but I’d be lying through my teeth if I were to say that I didn’t have fun playing them—BR 4 included, in spite of its numerous flaws—when I had the chance. Needless to say, I, too, had been looking forward to the day when BR 5 would bring the series out of the ashes, but alas, it’s been nearly twelve years since BR 4’s release for the PlayStation 2 (November 11, 2003) and nearly three-and-a-half years since Konami Digital Entertainment had absorbed Hudson Soft, the original publishers of the BR games and the owners of the BR IP, into their own stock (March 1, 2012). Worse yet, with the way Konami has fallen from grace over the past several months with the way it has reportedly been treating its own employees (including its former vice president and top game designer, Hideo Kojima) and with numerous business decisions that have understandably upset its core supporting audience, my own hopes for any of Hudson Softs IP’s returning to the video game market are quite low. Then again, in an industry when Rare Ltd. can release a new Killer Instinct game seventeen years after its second (and, at the time, presumably last) installment in the KI franchise, maybe there’s hope yet. Until then, though, I’ll believe the news of a new Bloody Roar game when I see it and issue the now-defunct Hudson Soft one last thank you for creating one heck of an imperfect yet nonetheless fun fighting game series.

Bloody Roar promo poster featuring Japanese model Yuko Ogura: Proof that the original Bloody Roar 4 fell short not only critically, but also promotionally

Bloody Roar promo poster featuring Japanese model Yuko Ogura: Proof that the original Bloody Roar 4 fell short not only critically, but also promotionally

Until next time, then, readers, be sure to check out my author page at Smashwords.com and my Author Central pages at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and feel free to subscribe to this blog, if you haven’t done so already. Otherwise, thanks again for the support, and as always, happy reading!

Regards,

Dustin M. Weber

*****

PS: For the sake of convenience, here are the links to the other parts of this miniseries:

Part 1: July 23, 2012

Part 2: December 12, 2012

Part 3: February 2, 2013

Part 4: February 7, 2015

*****

Bloody Roar (c) 1997-2012 Hudson Soft Co., Ltd./2012 Konami Digital Entertainment. All visual materials used in this article are as follows:

Bloody Roar 4 cover: GameFAQs.com

Bloody 4 Unborn; Bloody Roar 4 Nagi, Reiji & Ryoho; and Bloody Roar 4 Yuko Ogura Promo Poster: The Bloody Roar Retrospective: Bloody Roar 4 (Full Version) by SCXCR

Bloody Roar 4 Xion Defeats Nagi: Bloody Roar 4 Stories – Xion by xTimelessGaming

Bloody Roar character models: BloodyRoar.Wikia.com

All opinions expressed and ideas shared within the above article, however, are solely those of the author himself and no other party.

In Relation to My Work: How Would I Reboot the Bloody Roar Series? part 4

Bloody Roar Extreme Primal Fury

Bloody Roar Extreme for the Microsoft X-Box or Bloody Roar Primal Fury for the Nintendo Game Cube…take your pick.

How’s it going, readers?

Today, I’m finally going to get back to work on my Bloody Roar reboot series that I’d started all the way back on July 23, 2012. I know it’s been a while, and I wholeheartedly apologize to everyone who’d been looking forward to the next installment of this miniseries. That aside, now is just as good a time as any for me to discuss the fourth installment in the BR video game franchise, Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury and how I would reboot it according to my initial revision of the entire saga from game one on. Taking place between BRs 3 & 4, this particular game, on one hand, returned the BR story to its sci-fi lite roots with allusions to the conflict between baseline humanity and zoanthropekind was well as with references to the apparently ongoing experimentation on certain zoanthrope subjects to create the ultimate fighting machine. On the other hand, BR E/PF also made room for Xion to continue his story within the Bloody Roar universe by having him search for answers regarding his being the host of the Unborn. The game likewise kept BR 3’s Hyper Beast Mode mechanic for particular implementation with Prince Cronos, one of the game’s two new characters (three in the case of Bloody Roar Extreme), thus making an effort to tie it in closely with BR 3. In short, Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury does its best to find its niche within the rest of the franchise, even at the expense of being less well-received as an installment in comparison to BRs 2 & 3 and at the expense of offering more of a side story than an actual installment in the BR saga’s primary plot.

As an installment of my reboot to the Bloody Roar series, this article will be an attempt to help BR E/PF retain its niche within the BR saga as I’ve retooled it in the past so as to maintain the overall flow of the narrative between each game. I will also attempt to find a place for preexisting BR characters within this specific title, including those who have never before been made playable, as well as characters I’d created for previous installments within my reboot. Previously existing plot points from earlier BR games will also find their way into this reboot as I see fit. All that being said, let’s dive in!

The Story

Welcome to the Kingdom of Zoanthropes.

Welcome to the Kingdom of Zoanthropes.

To begin with, Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury centers itself upon the emergence of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes, an infant nation founded upon the dream of equality between common humanity and zoanthropekind and introduced as a safe haven for zoanthrope immigrants across the globe. The KoZ, though, new as it is, still relies heavily upon its zoanthrope military for security and its special mercenary brigade for income. Not only that, but there have been rumors of clandestine, Tylon-esque experiments going on behind the scenes with the apparent attempt to discover the secrets of zoanthropy. However, as much as everyone—human and zoanthrope alike—who has heard these rumors is opposed to such experiments taking place, all have yet to discover proof of their existence, much less the identity of the party responsible for them. Needless to say, the nation’s leader, King Orion, feels that the time is right to bring the nation together by hosting the Ultimate Zoanthrope Fighting Tournament and provide a cash prize to he or she who wins it all to become the first ever “Zoanthrope Champion.” It is this very competition that draws the interest of many of the playable characters in this installment for a multitude of reasons, including the hope of discovering the truth behind the experiments that have allegedly been taking place.

Such is how the story for the official BR E/PF story goes, and while it works fine in and of itself, I am of the opinion that with some stronger ties to earlier games in the Bloody Roar series, it could be even more compelling and engrossing than what it already is. I especially hold this true in conjunction to some of the characters’ individual backstories, especially those whose importance in the BR saga has dwindled on account of the BR creative team’s strict focus on newer characters’ involvement in the overall plot. Therefore, in an effort to incorporate everyone and everything presented in my reboot thus far, the first question I would ask myself would be this:

How did the Kingdom of Zoanthropes come to be?

Find out just what exactly is going on behind the scenes of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes' first annual Ultimate Zoanthrope Fighting Tournament.

Find out just what exactly is going on behind the scenes of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes’ first annual Ultimate Zoanthrope Fighting Tournament.

My answer: Simple. Following the destruction of Tylon’s main laboratory in my reboot of the first Bloody Roar, a number of renegade Tylon scientists unite with one another and scrap together what little remains of the destroyed lab and relocate to a remote location where they can carry on whatever research they’d been conducting earlier without Tylon’s instruction. The scientists’ secret base eventually becomes the underground hub for the safe haven for zoanthropes that later evolves over time into the Kingdom of Zoanthropes, which is governed by the handful of test subjects whom the scientists were able to rescue from Tylon’s lab. Among these refugees is Prince Cronos Orma, a Romani boy who had been abducted from his village in France (which, at last note, has an estimated Romani population of 400,000 people) by Tylon operatives and experimented on by the corporation’s scientists to become a zoanthropic engine of destruction. Though usually a compassionate young man who dedicates himself to bringing peace and prosperity to the people over whom he presides, he is also the host of the X-Genome Code, which, when stimulated within his body, produces the same kind of mental conditioning that once plagued Long during his youth and helped result in him absentmindedly killing his sister Lin Li and his mother upon beastorizing (Read Part 3 of my Bloody Roar reboot for more information.). Sadly, though Long has long been able to gain control over his strand of the XGC and henceforth his ability to transform without falling prey to the code’s mind-debilitating effects, Cronos has yet to do the same, more likely than not on account of some psychological experimentation he’d undergone following his initial abduction. Such experiments had thus made it easy for Tylon to manipulate the otherwise gentle prince into utilizing his abilities as a raging phoenix zoanthrope against innocent human victims, razing villages such as the one from which his own bodyguard Ganesha hailed prior to the events of BR 1. Cronos only vaguely remembers such instances, however, thus leaving him with many a question about himself and the experiments that are going on secretly within his own kingdom. He thus enters the tournament in hopes of coming closer to the truth and discovering a way for his people to live in peace once and for all.

Prince Cronos of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes: An innocent face with a dark secret

Prince Cronos of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes: An innocent face with a dark secret

As the Kingdom of Zoanthropes continues to rise to power, news of its growth attracts the attention of another remnant faction from Bloody Roar history, the Zoanthrope Liberation Front. Now led by Lance Underwood, who has risen through the cabal’s ranks to take over the position that used to belong to Shenlong (See Part 2 of my reboot.), the ZLF plot to take control of the Kingdom and make it their base of operations in their campaign against regular humans and their persecution of zoanthropekind. Upon doing so, the Front threatens to become even more of a force to be reckoned with than it had been during BR 2’s story by using the advanced research that the kingdom’s scientists have developed over its six years of secrecy and employing the Kingdom’s own army—whether by threat or out of genuine adherence to the organization’s dogma—in their bloody crusade. They even convince King Orion, Prince Cronos’s father, that the experiments that they commission the original scientists to perform on their behalf are for the Kingdom’s benefit and for the benefit of the world as a whole and encourage him to host the Ultimate Zoanthrope Fighting Tournament as an act of good will towards all who wish to test their might against the Kingdom’s soldiers. As the tournament takes place, Underwood and his minions plan on using it as an opportunity to discover and weed out anyone who might be a threat to their scheme, whether by eliminating such adversaries altogether or brainwashing them into serving their cause.

The Players

Next up, I’ll discuss who from the Bloody Roar universe would fit within the context of this story. So far, I’ve already given Prince Cronos his role in the plot, which is the only reason why I won’t be going into too much more detail about him here. As for everyone else…well, read on to find out.

Yugo Ogami, WOC leader, ready for action

Yugo Ogami, WOC leader, ready for action

As the leader of the World of Coexistence, Yugo finds it his obligation to investigate the Kingdom of Zoanthropes and the experiments that have allegedly taken place within it. He garners just the opportunity to do so, too, following a series of events in which an alleged representative of the Kingdom (who is actually a front man for the ZLF) invite him to participate in the UZFT after seeing Yugo’s fighting skills in action against a pack of thugs whom he himself deploys against him. Needless to say, Yugo’s story doesn’t change much at all in my reboot.

The United Nations, meanwhile, elects Gado to represent them in their dealings with the Kingdom, thus giving him a chance to investigate the alleged experiments himself. Aside from Jenny’s involvement, his storyline remains the same as it did in the original BR E/PF.

Alice Tsukigami, destined to receive more backstory in this reboot than in the original BR E/PF

Alice Tsukigami, destined to receive more backstory in this reboot than in the original BR E/PF

Still an operative for the WOC, Alice initially feels overwhelmed with the rate at which the organization has grown over the past year or so and as such feels concerned about her place within it. She is also concerned for Yugo’s safety upon hearing that King Orion has allegedly invited him to partake in the UZFT. Her interest in the Kingdom grows, however, when Kenji/Bakuryu reports to her that he may have discovered some information on the whereabouts of her father, whom she has otherwise been lead to believe has been dead since before the events of BR 1. It is with this information in hand that she attends the tournament as well in hopes of proving the validity behind such tidings. Though the inclusion of Alice’s father and his whereabouts is a diversion from Alice’s backstory in the original Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury, I’ve included it nonetheless to add more depth to her character than simply being Yugo’s love interest and as such enhance her involvement in the BR story as a whole.

Uriko Nonomura, destined for greatness as a participant in the UZFT

Uriko Nonomura, destined for greatness as a participant in the UZFT

Uriko, meanwhile, has been invited to the UZFT by a representative of the ZLF in the same manner that Yugo has. Her story, therefore, remains unchanged for the most part, save for whatever over-the-top childlike behaviors she demonstrates in the original game. Mitsuko, on the other hand, will be available as an actual character in the story on account of Kenji coming across some information concerning Mitsuko’s estranged husband/Uriko’s missing father, thus spurring her to check out such information herself in the same vein as Alice with the info regarding her own father. Likewise, Mitsuko could also be a playable character on account of her concern for Uriko partaking in something as serious as a global fighting tournament for zoanthropes that’s being hosted in a foreign land with a questionable reputation. The tournament itself, on a similar note, could prove to be the ultimate means for Uriko to prove to her mother that she is indeed growing up and learning how to handle herself and her zoanthropy as a fledgling adult.

Kenji "Bakuryu" Ogami, getting into the thick of things once more

Kenji “Bakuryu” Ogami, getting into the thick of things once more

Speaking of Kenji (a.k.a. Bakuryu), his story isn’t too much different from what it is in the original BR E/PF, save for his investigations into the whereabouts of Dr. Tsukigami and Dr. Nonomura, Alice and Uriko’s respective fathers. The only difference here, however, is that Kenji must learn to balance his work as an investigator for the WOC along with being a willing participant in the UZFT and not only prove to his foster brother Yugo that he is a capable operative for the WOC, but also thank Yugo in a way for the sacrifices he’d made upon adopting him in the first place.

Long’s original story in Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury never made much sense to me in that it was a complete diversion from what it had been in previous installments in the BR saga as a whole. Ever since BR 1, Long has been known as more or less a loner—first as a former Tylon assassin on the run for the very corporation that took him into their fold, then as a solitary monk who later became Uriko’s kenpo instructor, and finally as a drifter who moved in with his newest mentor and said master’s daughter. In BR E/PF, however, he’s apparently in charge of a laboratory conducting research similar to the KoZ’s own experiments. Even his ending in arcade mode, which depicts him envisioning his life flashing in his mind as he carries Cronos’s unconscious body, doesn’t help make the transition from roaming martial arts instructor to scientific researcher flow as smoothly as I would like. Thus, my reboot of Long’s story for BR E/PF would be as follows:

Long Shin, bound for a change in story in this reboot

Long Shin, bound for a change in story in this reboot

Following Lanfa’s recovery from the complications she’d suffered from her strand of the X-Genome Code, Long does everything in his power to help her grow stronger, including training her in the martial arts. Following his instructions to the letter, Lanfa becomes a capable fighter in her own right and decides to participate in the UZFT to prove her mettle in the martial arts with Long accompanying her to provide moral support. His presence proves to be quite the convenience, unfortunately, for the ZLF, who soon enough target him and try to remove him as a threat to their plans—even going as far as to arrange a fight between him and his clone Shenlong.

The battle never ends for Jane "Shina" Gado the Fighting Marvel.

The battle never ends for Jane “Shina” Gado the Fighting Marvel.

Next up is Shina, whose story from the original BR E/PF basically plays upon the idea that during her childhood, she lived in the same village as Prince Cronos and was subsequently friends with him before their village had been burned to the ground. Assumed by Cronos himself to have died in the blaze, Shina admits that the disaster still gives her nightmares with which she tries to cope (i.e., distract herself from) with all the time she spends on the battlefield. However, she learns from Yugo that Cronos is still alive and well and decides that by meeting him, she’ll be able to overcome her post-traumatic stress disorder. Sadly, as I’d detailed in my second installation of my miniseries, I would have written things so that Shina was Gado’s biological daughter rather than his adoptive one. That being said, I would have to throw this story out in favor of this one:

Alan Gado, representing the UN in their dealings with the Kingdom of Zoanthropes

Alan Gado, representing the UN in their dealings with the Kingdom of Zoanthropes

According to her ending from BR 3, Shina had disappeared without a trace to lead a more peaceful life following her desertion of the “Eye and Claw”/”Klaw and Fang” coalition. Unfortunately for her in my reboot, she doesn’t happen to receive such a break, as she is soon discovered by legitimate KoZ ambassadors, who invite her to train the latest recruits to their army. At first, she is skeptical, seeing as such a job will result in her being a “government lackey”—the very thing she resented turning out to be at the end of BR 3. However, seeing as her father has been assigned to represent the UN in their dealings with the Kingdom, she feels a sense of familial responsibility to see to the drilling of the KoZ’s soldiers, hoping that her instructing them will see to their reliability as their nation’s number one line of defense and not into the next Zoanthrope Liberation Front. Much to her dismay, though, the real ZLF will be watching and waiting behind the scenes to undermine her work and start recruiting the more gullible and/or idealistic members of the military into joining their cause. This includes General Sobek, a former Tylon test subject-turned-soldier whose past oppression by Tylon’s scientists prior to BR 1’s story prompt him to become a ZLF sympathizer and persuade him and several of the soldiers under his command to support the Front, thus driving Shina to target him in an attempt to set him straight and put a cramp on the ZLF’s plans for world domination. Plus, the whole “love connection” that certain BR fans assume exists between Shina and Cronos (according to TVWiki.tv) can very easily be played upon here, even without the whole assumption of them being old friends from the same village.

Busuzima and Stun return for more fun and fisticuffs in Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury.

Busuzima and Stun return for more fun and fisticuffs in Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury.

The stories for Stun and Busuzima pretty much stay the same in comparison to the original game. In Stun’s case, he is basically a clone of his original self, the post-experimental version of Dr. Steven Goldberg, albeit without Steven’s genetic instability and with only a fraction of the memory he used to have when his original self was alive. The ZLF, however, have instructed the scientists responsible for his resurrection to remove certain tissues within his brain to eliminate his memory recall completely and from there begin mass production of zoanthrope soldiers based on his DNA…unless, of course, he can fight his way back to freedom so that he can try to live as normal a life as he can, given his biological circumstances. Busuzima, on the other hand, will still be carrying on with his research in hopes of developing the “Ultimate Life Object” until he hears rumors about the secret experiments going on within the Kingdom of Zoanthropes and wonders to himself not only if the rumors are true, but also—if so—the research that the scientists responsible for the experiments have discovered the secret he needs to complete his own work.

No secret within the KoZ is safe from international superspy Jenny Burtory.

No secret within the KoZ is safe from international superspy Jenny Burtory.

Jenny, meanwhile, has been coping with the disappointment she’s been feeling upon not discovering the secret behind the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts at the end of BR 3 by leading her near-endless life the best she can. Suddenly, she receives word from her superiors to investigate the goings-on behind the UZFT and discover the truth behind the rumors of the KoZ’s experiments. She makes no hesitation in accepting this mission, either, especially when she hears that Gado will more likely than not be caught up in the thick of things one way or another.

As for Shenlong, he’s been in hiding since the events of my Bloody Roar 3 reboot—a bitter rogue with a bloody past who can’t help but resent having been manipulated to serve the whims of a man who sought power and dominion over those whom he saw as “inferior” to him. However, a mysterious invitation from the KoZ prompts him to participate in the UZFT, unaware of the fact that it was the ZLF who sent him the invitation in the first place and who plan to recruit him back into their fold as their puppet leader. The twist this time around, however, will be that Lance Underwood rather than Busuzima would end up being in control of Shenlong’s every move and action up until things go awry. That way, when things eventually do turn for the worse, Lance can simply expose Shenlong as yet another Tylon experiment, thus further sullying the legacy of the already corrupt (albeit long-dead) corporation.

Prepare for more brutality and bloodshed as Shenlong and Xion make their mark in this reboot of BR E/PF.

Prepare for more brutality and bloodshed as Shenlong and Xion make their mark in this reboot of BR E/PF.

Xion also gets to continue his story from BR 3 by seeking redemption for the misdeeds he’d caused during the course of the previous game and discovering the secret behind his zoanthropy and mental lapses. According to the official BR cannon, however, Xion was somehow involved with the KoZ’s experiments to find out just that. How, unfortunately, was never really explained. In my version, though, I would make a point of illustrating him infiltrating the laboratories beneath the Kingdom’s palace and discovering the research going on there. He would then try to persuade the scientists to “cure” him of his zoanthropy—or, at the very least, the “Jekyll and Hyde” complex from which he’d been suffering during the course of BR 3—only to end up being abducted and used as a pawn in the ZLF’s game of chess against anyone who would dare to root them out. This thus leaves the question of whether or not Xion, as per Long’s advice at the end of his original BR E/PF ending, learns compassion and as such evolves beyond the monster he’d become in BR 3.

Golan Draphan, a.k.a. Ganesha of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes

Golan Draphan, a.k.a. Ganesha of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes

As was the case with Prince Cronos, Ganesha made his debut in BR E/PF, which was sadly also the only BR game he’d appeared in. Originally hailing from Israel, Golan Draphan (whose name is Hebrew for “Refuge” according to BabyNamespedia.com and “Passage/Revolution” according to SheKnows.com) had witnessed firsthand the destruction of his village once upon a time by Cronos and as such has vowed to avenge his fellow villagers for the prince’s misdeed. In order to exact such vengeance, he has immigrated to the Kingdom of Zoanthropes and arranged things so that he becomes Cronos’s bodyguard. From there, he defends the prince against all would-be assassins, thereby enabling him that he alone would be the one to punish him for the decimation of his village…only to [allegedly] meet his own demise in the end at Cronos’s hands. Overall, his original story stays intact with little to no variation with the question remaining as to whether or not he survives Cronos’s “killing blow” on him following his victory over the naïve, puppet-like prince.

Uranus finally makes her debut in my version of the Bloody Roar saga.

Uranus finally makes her debut in my version of the Bloody Roar saga.

Finally, though Kohryu from BR 3 shan’t be making a comeback to the BR E/PF stage, Uranus will—and with a full-fledged story to illustrate her place in the BR universe, too. Though her origins will be shrouded in mystery in the beginning of the story for the most part, the truth of the matter is she has been cloned from Uriko’s DNA following the experiments that had turned her into the were chimera from BR 1. One key difference between her and Uriko’s werechimera form, however, is that like the present incarnation of Stun, Uranus’s body is much more stable than Uriko’s synthetic form from the first BR, thus allowing her more control over the power that flows through her veins. Likewise, her personality is very sullen and dark, and though she secretly enjoys the sensations of fire and destruction, deep down inside, she questions her purpose on the planet and wonders who she really is. In reality, she is the ultimate zoanthrope weapon recreated by the scientists responsible for creating the KoZ as per the orders of the ZLF and is more or less used as their trump card in the war against humanity. Her purpose in the game is simple: to wipe out anyone who should discover and dare stand against the ZLF’s plans, so long as the ZLF has her under their control. Then again, there is no guarantee that she will stay obedient to her masters, meaning that someone will eventually have to take her out, lest she have her way and use her power to vanquish anyone and everyone whom she sees as an enemy.

New Characters

King Orion, the well-meaning yet horribly misguided ruler of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes

King Orion, the well-meaning yet horribly misguided ruler of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes

Amongst the new characters in my reboot of Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury, the one whom I’ll bring over directly from the original to make a playable character would be King Orion himself. Being the monarch of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes, Orion is naturally very much preoccupied with the idea of helping his people prosper and his nation grow stronger. On that note, he has been persuaded by the ZLF to believe that the experiments they have forced the KoZ’s founders to perform will provide the Kingdom with more powerful and reliable soldiers than what he already has in his employment. This can be likened to how he would feel in the story of the original BR E/PF, where he was convinced that an army of more physically empowered zoanthropes would be the boon that his nation needed and as such insisted that the experiments that were happening behind the scenes of the UZFT commenced. I’m therefore pretty surprised that nobody in the original game dared to confront him directly for his decision aside from his own son and that he wasn’t made a playable character on account of it. Even then, he could have made his decisions on account of the advice he’d receive from an advisor of sorts—perhaps the very man/woman who was standing behind that one pillar and smiling evilly in Gado’s ending after His Majesty and Gado had signed that peace treaty. At any rate, leaving out King Orion as a playable character in the official BR E/PF was a lost opportunity for some great storytelling, and I think throwing him into the mix would do wonders not only for the story as a whole, but for him specifically as a character. As for his beast form and martial art…hmm…I’d say Salamander/Wyrm with in-game mechanics similar to his son’s Penguin/Phoenix beast form and a martial art like Shaolin Quan that compliments the aerial prowess of a dragon without directly ripping off Cronos’s ballet-inspired fighting style.

As for veterans of the first BR, I’ve already briefly mentioned Mitsuko’s role in this story, and Greg will still be out of commission on account of having to cope yet with his XGC complications. Hans, on the other hand, will indeed be around to mix it up with the rest of the gang as a UN operative whose mission parallels Jenny’s in that he is expected to find out who’s behind the alleged experiments that have been going on within the KoZ and bring the perpetrator to justice. That’s assuming, of course, that his days as a Tylon assassin don’t come back to haunt him and trigger the same psychoses he’d suffered while under their control upon being reminded of the experiments the corporation had put him through.

Lanfa, Long's foster sister, at long last gets' her chance to shine in this telling of the Bloody Roar tale.

Lanfa, Long’s foster sister, at long last gets her chance to shine in this telling of the Bloody Roar tale.

Annette from Bloody Roar Beast Corps and my reboot of BR 3 will be making a comeback, too, as will Nathan from BRBC 2 (See the second and third part of this series for more on each of them.) as participants of the UZFT who hope to raise the money they need to cover their respective loved ones’ medical bills following their respective recoveries from their XGC complications. Fang and Mashiro will be available to play as well, seeing as they’d both appeared in the Bloody Roar Extreme V-Jump Book, also known as the bonus thirteenth chapter of Bloody Roar: The Fang. Fang’s appearance as an Easter egg character/third costume for Yugo in Bloody Roar Extreme further validates his presence in the game, and for fans of the manga to see Mashiro available as another Easter egg character/a third costume choice for Alice would only add icing to the cake. Finally, as mentioned earlier, Long’s “foster sister” Lanfa will finally get a chance to shine as a playable character as she puts her newly acquired skills in Bai He Quan (a.k.a. Fujian White Crane kung fu) to the test against the other participants in the UZFT. Naturally, as her fighting style suggests, her beast form would be that of a crane.

Reiji would be in my version of BR E/PF as well, having lost his way in the world once Andreas Drakos’s assassin cabal disbanded following the events of Bloody Roar Beast Corps 2 and my version of BR 3. Hot-blooded as ever, Reiji continues to seek strong opponents against whom he can test his mastery of both the martial arts and his own zoanthropy and sees the UZFT as his chance to do just that—especially since it just so happens that his old rival Kenji “Bakuryu” Ogami will be there for him to at least try to destroy. Who knows? There might even be a subplot involving Reiji and the Zoanthrope Liberation Front in which the ZLF recognizes his bloodlust, fighting prowess, and zoanthropic pride and decide to recruit him into their fold.

Reiji Takigawa, bloodthirsty rogue and potential ZLF recruit

Reiji Takigawa, bloodthirsty rogue and potential ZLF recruit

Speaking of the ZLF, their representatives in this game will be none other than Lance and Gayle, both of whom I’d introduced in the second installment of this miniseries. Lance, naturally, is the new leader of the ZLF and is thus the one responsible for holding the founders of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes hostage and forcing them to conduct the nefarious experiments they have been for the sake of bolstering the Front’s numbers. I need not explain the purpose, either, for such an increase in the organization’s militaristic might. Gayle, on the other hand, is a reluctant member of the ZLF who would like nothing more than to purge herself of the zoanthropy she’d once stolen money from her former fellow animal rights activists to attain in the first place on account of the complications it has made on her way of life. Granted, doing so would also mean having to abandon the cause she’d once chosen to support during the events of my version of Bloody Roar 2, but the way she sees it, such is a small price to pay on her part. As such, her reason for wanting the scientists’ experiments to continue is simple: She wants them to discover a way to safely revert her back to a baseline human, after which she can go back home, report the Front to the authorities, and try to live as normal a life as she can from thereon out. Sadly, it seems like she’ll have to fight for such a right via the UZFT, but at this stage of her zoanthropic life, she’ll do whatever it takes to regain the humanity she’d sacrificed a mere year to year-and-a-half prior.

Will the Nonomura family reunite once and for all after the dust has settled in this retelling of the BR E/PF story?

Will the Nonomura family reunite once and for all after the dust has settled in this retelling of the BR E/PF story?

As for the scientists responsible for the birth of the KoZ, there are two amongst them who stand out the most: Dr. Hiroshi Nonomura and Dr. Matabei Tsukigami. Both having been missing for several years, these two men were the leaders behind the movement to construct the Kingdom of Zoanthropes following the collapse of Tylon’s corporate headquarters in South America, and they’d been in charge since up until the moment the ZLF had taken over their operation. It was they who’d salvaged as many experimental subjects of Tylon as they could and made them the members of the Kingdom’s royal family, heads of government, et cetera. On one hand is Hiroshi, Uriko’s estranged father and Mitsuko’s lost husband, who had been abducted by Tylon before the events of BR 1 and made to use his pharmaceutical knowledge to create not only the brainwashing formula that the corporation used to “recruit” subjects into servitude, but also the synthetic Factor B used to empower his own daughter into become the werechimera and also Uriko’s synthetic body. Needless to say, he is extremely repentant for his involvement in Tylon’s scientific progress and wishes for nothing more than to redeem himself for allowing his research to fall into the wrong hands once already…that and reuniting with his family, of course. Unfortunately, though his and his fellow scientists’ foundation of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes had promised to be the first step in paying zoanthropekind back for all the evil for which their work had been used, the ZLF’s hostile takeover of their hidden laboratory has certainly put an end to that act of good will, specifically in terms of the experiments that the Front have been having them perform. This angers Hiroshi greatly, and though he is loathe to put his colleagues in danger, it may only be a matter of time before he beastorizes into a monkey and lets loose on his captors with his mastery of Hou Quan (monkey fist kung fu).

On the other hand is Matabei, Alice’s biological father, who had been working for Tylon before the events of the first Bloody Roar. Having lost his wife/Alice’s mother to the X-Genome Code, Matabei once had his daughter tested to make sure that she, too, wasn’t a carrier of the XGC herself. However, after his superiors’ tests had proven that she was indeed XGC-free, they insisted on conducting further tests on her (i.e., brainwashing her into becoming one of their soldiers), which Matabei adamantly protested against. Much to his dismay, however, his employers separated him from Alice and began experimenting on him as well in a manner not too unlike the way Busuzima had experimented on his colleague Steven Goldberg and turned him into the original Stun. The result of such experiments resulted in the first amoeba zoanthrope and, in Matabei’s cae, a body so unstable that he must live on a special life support system constructed by his fellow ex-Tylon scientists in order to survive. Then again, despite his fragile state, he can still fend for himself when need be, dispatching assailants with his mastery in aikido when the going gets rough.

Sobek, the ancient Egyptian god of the Nile River and inspiration behind one of my new characters to this reboot of Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury

Sobek, the ancient Egyptian god of the Nile River and inspiration behind one of my new characters to this reboot of Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury

General Sobek is next on this list, and though I’ve briefly mentioned him before, I will say that just as is true with the royal family of the KoZ, the general of the Kingdom’s military also happens to be a former test subject that the renegade scientists had rescued from Tylon’s corporate HQ. Formerly from Egypt, Hru-Amen Mansour used to be an excellent soldier prior to his abduction by the corporation and very proud of his success as a field commander and tactician for the troops under his command. Unfortunately, his falling prey to an ambush by Tylon zoanthropes changed all that for him, as did the decimation of his platoon in the ambush. Still suffering the memory of such a humiliating defeat, Sobek naturally wants to redeem himself for what he sees to be a tragic fault of his and is thus easily persuaded by the ZLF that the experiments they have the KoZ’s scientists conduct will only bolster the soldiers of whom he is in charge and thus ensure them to become an army of no equal. It is thus up to Shina—whom he doesn’t trust on account of her reputation as a mercenary and as the hired co-trainer of his troops—to teach him that the best way to ensure the reliability of his soldiers is to have them develop their talents organically rather than through whatever artificial enhancements they might receive from the ZLF’s cruel and untrustworthy scientific tampering. his beast form is that of a crocodile, and his choice of martial art is submission wrestling with bare knuckle boxing thrown in for the sake of striking.

Finally, we have Daedalus, a robotic bull zoanthrope who bears a lot in common with Kohryu from BR 3. Basically the mechanized version of Hogarth Howards from my BR 1 reboot, Daedalus was created by the engineers of the KoZ’s founders and originally meant to serve as a police droid of sorts before the ZLF infiltrated their labs and had him reprogrammed into a shock troop for their little scheme. Little did both parties know, though, that just like with Kohryu, Daedalus has a hidden agenda that others’ programming of him can only temporarily override. That agenda: the destruction of pretty much any zoanthrope with whom he crosses paths, using the same fierce fighting style he’d used when he was alive to cripple his adversaries.

To imagine the concept behind Daedalus, just combine the likes of Battle Arena Toshinden 3's Adam with Minatek from Midway's BioF.R.E.A.K.S. from 1998.

To imagine the concept behind Daedalus, just combine the likes of Battle Arena Toshinden 3’s Adam with Minatek from Midway’s BioF.R.E.A.K.S. from 1998.

Bloody Roar Beast Corps 3

To sign off on this article, one final way in which I would reboot Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury is to have a Bloody Roar Beast Corps game accompany it as I had done from BRs 2 and 3. This particular mission for the heroes of BRBC would be the simplest yet, too, in that all they need to do is to infiltrate the Kingdom of Zoanthropes and get to the bottom of what’s going on behind the scenes with the experiments that have allegedly been taking place within the young nation. Doing so won’t be an easy task, unfortunately, for the ZLF have remained on top of things and as such have arranged a number of operatives from the various chapters they’ve established globally to obstruct Paul, Sonja, Mireille, and Yao as they make their way towards the KoZ and root out the evil that’s infesting it. Thankfully, our fearsome foursome are bound to come across some allies to aid them in their mission, although said allies won’t be appearing in the game in the same way Annette and Rupert has appeared in the first BRBC game or the way Nathan, Fang, and Mashiro had in BRBC 2. Rather, I would allow the player to create his or her own zoanthrope to assist the four primary heroes in eradicating the Front. Gender, height and weight, outfit, nationality, fighting style, beast form—I would include it all in BRBC 3’s Create-a-Hero mode along with a score of ZLF mooks and bosses for the Beast Corps to wage war against as well as a number of villains from my BR E/PF reboot. Lance, Gayle, General Sobek, Reiji, Daedalus, and even Shenlong would all be welcome additions in this game, to be sure. I’d even throw a few original Front members into the mix as well, plus some branching paths to help lead the BRBC and their allies down different trails toward the KoZ and end up facing off against different chapters of the ZLF with each unique path they take.

Well, that pretty much sums up my reboot of Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury. Thanks to all who took the time out of their day to read this, and I apologize for introducing this installment to my miniseries as late as I have. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I introduce the fifth and final part of this reboot, where I’ll tackle the “black sheep” (no pun intended) of the BR franchise, Bloody Roar 4. In the meantime, though, be sure to check out my author page at Smashwords.com and my Author Central pages at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and feel free to subscribe to this blog, if you haven’t done so already. Otherwise, thanks again for the support, and as always, happy reading!

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

*****

PS: For the sake of convenience, here are the links to the other parts of this miniseries:

Part 1: July 23, 2012

Part 2: December 12, 2012

Part 3: February 2, 2013

Part 5: August 23, 2015

*****

Bloody Roar (c) 1997-2012 Hudson Soft Co., Ltd./2012 Konami Digital Entertainment. All visual materials used in this article are as follows:

Bloody Roar Extreme & Primal Fury covers: GameFAQs.com

Bloody Roar Primal Fury Story Intro: PFTMClubcomuv.com

Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury character models: BloodyRoar.Wikia.com

King Orion: Bloody Roar Primal Fury [GC] Stun the Insect’s Ending by zedk8

Daedalus: Toshinden 3 BAT 3 PSXRip OST Rungo & Adam BGM by greenshun GABO (Battle Arena Toshinden 3 Adam) & Mobygames.com (BioF.R.E.A.K.S. Minatek)

Sobek hieroglyoph: Egyking.info

All opinions expressed and ideas shared within the above article, however, are solely those of the author himself and no other party.

Poem of the Week: Wake-Up Call 2014 for Entertainment Supporters

Hello, readers!

For Heaven knows how many years now, the world of entertainment—books, television, cinema, music, and, at times, even video games—has been swimming in a pool of mediocrity based on both corporations’ fixation with profit and the masses’ ever-decreasing standards concerning the products they support. Even I can only imagine just how many hard-working and talented authors, musicians, screen writers, and game designers have struggled for months, years, and even decades only to have various publishers, studios, agents, and such dismiss their work as being worthless in favor of that which has proven to be little else than utter, indefensible trash by critics and audiences alike, yet has proven just as much to make oodles of money for the party/parties responsible for its very existence. Thankfully, not every movie, novel, album, TV program, and video game of questionable repute has proven to be a success, and I cannot help but exhale a sigh of relief every time I hear of some tacky, degrading, or simply lazily made product failing to achieve the success its makers had hoped for it. Unfortunately, one can also say the same for every product into which the creator(s) has/have put a lot of thought and effort, which makes me shake my head and wonder just how much certain people’s tastes have devolved in the past decade or two. Granted, decades past have produced their fair share of garbage as well, but thankfully, the passage of time has cleansed our collective memory of such shoddy work…that is, of course, until someone dares to remind us of such rubbish (e.g., chancing to see such an item on sale at a flea market or on a shopping website such as eBay or Amazon.com)

Regardless, thoughts of such a notion have inspired me to create the following Shakespearean sonnet, which I hope reflects what some of you might be thinking as well concerning 21st century media as we all know it. Without further ado, then, here’s Wake-Up Call 2014 for Entertainment Supporters. Enjoy!

*****

Wake-Up Call 2014 for Entertainment Supporters
September 2, 2014

How can something wretched attain great fame
And fortune in its mediocrity
When stuff exists that’s nowhere near as lame
Out there for the masses to hear and see?
Why can’t people smell stool for what it is
And move on to what they genuinely
Can perceive to be good within the biz
Of entertainment, messed-up though it be?
Why support a blatant, obvious hack
With the cash you’ve worked oh so hard to earn
When you know said hack’s work is naught but whack
And in the end will leave you oh so burned?
It’s time to toss the trash once and for all
‘Fore it further contributes to our fall.

*****

This hereby concludes this week’s poem. Thank you all for stopping by to read it, and if there’s any chance that any of you out there know of a particular movie, novel, TV show, et cetera out on the market today that you feel deserves much less praise/much more criticism than it has received, please don’t hesitate to leave a rant about it in the comments section below. I’m sure we all can recall at least one certain something that we cannot understand is as popular as it is/has been for whatever reason. Also, feel free to visit my author pages at Smashwords.comAmazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk to see which works I have available for purchase as well as my post on this blog about my latest project, The Kingdom of Somnia, to see if it is a project you would like to support, should it ever hit the market. Otherwise, folks, happy reading!

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

In Relation to My Work: How Video Games Spur My Creativity, part 4

Alisia Dragoon, North American (left) and Japanese covers:Regardless of which cover you prefer between these two, one thing's for certain: the quality of this oft-overlooked title.

Alisia Dragoon, North American (left) and Japanese covers:
Regardless of which cover you prefer between these two, one thing’s for certain: the quality of this oft-overlooked title.

How are you today, readers?

In finishing up my discussion on video games and how they inspire me as a writer, there’s one final topic that I’ve planned for some time on bringing to light: the settings of some of my favorite video games. After all, the setting of any story, regardless of what form it takes (novel, video game, short story, movie, television show, etc.) oftentimes says a lot about the story itself and helps to set the stage for what promises to take its audience on a ride that strikes its members’ collective fancy in one way or another. The settings of the games discussed in this article are no exception to this rule, seeing as they, too, have helped establish the scene for stories that have captured the hearts and minds of many a video gamer over the years, myself included. Granted, these same games have many other elements that have been more crucial to whatever success they’ve been able to garner amongst the worldwide gaming community, specifically those such as tight and responsive controls, a reasonable balance in playability for newcomers and challenge for diehard gaming experts, and a solid degree of replay value. However, being a well-crafted and enjoyable game—at least in my personal opinion—only takes the game half-way in providing a lasting experience for gamers to remember for years to come. The other half, meanwhile, has more to do with a game’s presentation and atmosphere. This not only includes such obvious elements as stylish graphics, crisp sound effects, and music so fetching and memorable that it sticks in one’s head frequently enough to the point where one sings such tunes in one’s sleep, either, but also such things as an intriguing plot that immerses players within the game’s own little world, appealing and well-developed characters who participate within the story, and a time and place within which the story takes place. Seeing as I’ve already covered the first two of these three elements in previous entries within this mini-series, I only see it fair to discuss the third and final element in this article and relate to you all what an intriguing video game setting teaches me about being a writer.

Settings that Stand Out

The first category of video game settings I’d like to discuss is the type of video game setting that stands out from all others in one way or another. After all, if there’s one rule to which any self-respecting writer subscribes, it’s this: Originality is key. One need look no further, either, than such classic works as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Ted Hughes’s The Iron Man: A Children’s Story in Five Nights, and countless other classic novels to see the value of originality within the literary world. Unfortunately, not all stories have the luxury of being one hundred percent original, particularly these days when so many time-honored themes have been covered left, right, and center within various media as matters stand. Not only that, but with so many iterations and depictions of the same genre, from the specific (i.e., war novels) to the flexible (i.e., fantasy and/or science fiction works), it can be quite difficult to develop a story that will stand out from others of its kind and as such stand the test of time to the same extent as the previously mentioned five novels have. This is just as true with video games as it is with novels, for it is all too easy for game developers to produce a game that gamers can very well accuse—either rightfully or wrongfully—of being a rip-off of a popular title that had been developed earlier, such as Data East’s Tattoo Assassins is considered a rip-off of Midway/NetherRealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat or Konami’s Kensei: Sacred Fist is considered a “rip-off” of the games from Namco Bandai’s Tekken lineup. Luckily, many a game that has shown enough diversity from the competition to earn a spot within gamers’ hearts by at least putting its own unique spin on a familiar theme or seamlessly blending two distinct sub-genres of fiction together to produce an environment that captures gamers’ imaginations and establishes when and where the action takes place.

As you can see in the screenshots above, the setting of Alisia Dragoon blends fantasy with science fiction like very few--if ANY--other games of the early 1990s do and pit its intrepid heroine against many a challenging adversary with each and every step she takes in her quest to dispose of the Dark Prince Baldour once and for all.

As you can see in the screenshots above, the setting of Alisia Dragoon blends fantasy with science fiction like very few–if ANY–other games of the early 1990s do and pit its intrepid heroine against many a challenging adversary with each and every step she takes in her quest to dispose of the Dark Prince Baldour once and for all.

One particular game that shows this trait is Alisia Dragoon, a critically acclaimed yet commercially overlooked action platformer developed in 1992 by Game Arts and Gainax for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. Credited as being one of the first video games in the industry’s history to feature a female protagonist, AD tells the story of Alisia, a sorcerer’s daughter whose father was responsible for imprisoning the Dark Prince Baldour inside a giant cocoon and launching him into deep space, only to fall prey to the wrath of Baldour’s vengeful followers by being tortured and killed right before Alisia’s eyes when she is still a young girl. Eventually, however, she grows up to become a powerful magician in her own right and a champion of the people who vows to put both her mastery of lightning magic and the talents of her trusty quartet of companions—Dragon Frye, Thunder Raven, Boomerang Lizard, and Ball o’ Fire—to good use in her quest to avenge her murdered father and defeat Baldour and his legion of monsters, which have spread far and wide across the land on account of the “Silver Star” crashing into the earth. From this description here, one can quite easily prepare oneself for an adventure that blends elements of both science fiction and fantasy together to form a world where magic meets high-end intergalactic technology in a way that one might call awe-inspiring. Just imagine firing off lightning bolts and zapping the bejeezus out of such monsters as giant centipedes, living boulders, self-destructing soldier droids, two-legged mutant frogs, and plasma-hurling cultists while navigating your way through the likes of a mutant-infested marsh, a volcanic cavern, an abandoned starship, and finally, Baldour’s sky palace. Indeed, the eight stages that this game provides are surely a sight to see, and not just because of the game’s rich and colorful 16-bit graphics, either, but also because of the many obstacles each stage provides in an effort to test both Alisia’s courage and her athletic and magical prowess. Whether it’d be an environmental hazard that our heroine must avoid at all costs (e.g., falling stalactites or a bubbling lake of fire-spewing lava); an intricate layout that she must learn to navigate, complete with hidden passages and moving platforms; or an army of stage-specific villains and beasts that she and each of her four companions must zap before they can progress to the next stage, each environment succeeds at doing two distinct yet related things. The first, naturally enough, is standing out from the rest of the stages with its own particular layout and consequential secrets and other challenges. The second, however, is how each given stage ties together with the others immediately before and after it to help narrate Alisia’s story with only the pre-game introduction, the ending, and three cut scenes—of which only two have any dialogue at all (both solely from Baldour’s right-hand man Ornah)—to help illustrate the rest of the tale. Without question, this game proves valid the principle of “Show, don’t tell” with this mechanism in story telling by allowing its atmosphere to do the brunt of the presentation, thus allowing the gamer to become that much more immersed in it. Then again, it’d be out of line for me to ignore how well the game’s soundtrack—composed by the likes of Mecano Associates composers Nobuyuki Aoshima, Mamoru Ishimoda, Yoko Sonoda, Mariko Sato, and Fumihito Kasatani—accompanies each of these stages and gives them an even more distinct feel from the others, thus further adding to this method of narration. Needless to say, then, it’s pretty hard for me to imagine why Alisia Dragoon wasn’t as successful a game back in its day…that is, of course, until I find myself reminded of the game’s depressing marketing history, which includes it receiving only a small customer base in Japan on account of an unsubstantial penetration of the video game market by the Mega Drive at the time as well as the underwhelming publicity AD received in other markets. It’s quite a shame, too, in my opinion, for not only was this a fun game that was easy to learn yet tough to master, but its presentation was top notch for a 16-bit title—not just in terms of its high-quality visuals and audio, either, but also in terms of the unique environment that it introduces its players to and all the monster-blasting, platform-jumping, cultist-frying action that takes place within it.

WeaponLord: Often considered to be one of the most underrated fighting games of all time for its classic dark fantasy feel and equally deep and intense gameplay mechanics.

WeaponLord: Often considered to be one of the most underrated fighting games of all time for its classic dark fantasy feel and equally deep and intense gameplay mechanics, as illustrated above.

Of course, sometimes a game doesn’t need to blend genres together in order to present a realm of existence that appeals to gamers, for there is also a sizeable handful of games that deliver straight-up representations of any given genre or sub-genre and have left lasting impressions on the gamers across the globe. One game that comes to mind in this respect is a lesser-known fighting game created by Namco back in 1995 for both the Genesis/Mega Drive and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System called WeaponLord. Known for appealing to hardcore fighting game fans with its deep, complex gameplay—complete with thrust block, weapon clash, and power deflection systems and takedown and down strike maneuvers, to name but a mere few of these features—and grueling level of challenge, this weapons-based fighter presents gamers with a setting that lacked the cartoonish, camp-prone nature of many other fighting games released prior or around its time (save for maybe being able to cut an opponent’s hair, should they lean too far in and leave themselves open for just the right counter attack). After all, the realm within which the story of WeaponLord takes place very readily resembles the world of pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard’s timeless hero of legend, Conan the Barbarian. It is within this gritty, unforgiving world of demons, high sorcery, and archetypically loincloth- and bikini-clad barbarian warriors that the DemonLord Zarak reigns supreme for many years up until a tribal shaman informs him of the prophecy of the WeaponLord, an as-yet faceless figure who is born beneath the ever-so foreboding Warrior’s Moon and is destined to engage Zarak in lethal combat, emerge the victor, and put an end to his reign of ruthless tyranny. The DemonLord comes to accept this prophecy and, in an effort to put the lie to the promise of his demise, prepares to face and fell his foretold killer person-to-person via a grand tournament that he holds for all those born beneath the Warrior’s Moon. What soon follows is the official manifestation of the legend of the WeaponLord, and throughout the game’s course, the player will find himself or herself taking his or her selected fighter across such menacing regions as a desert cliff leading towards a sorceress’s castle that’s shrouded in mystical light, a bone-riddled “Cursed Path,” a number of different gladiatorial arenas—a couple of which bear very striking skull motifs—and even a battlefield that is completely littered with the skeletal remains of countless fallen warriors and overseen by a gargantuan demon who laughs menacingly, even as the player slays Zarak after a grueling one-on-one battle and the Warrior’s Moon rises once more, all blood red and clenched by a menacing skeletal fist. Even the veritable oasis that is the Treetops battleground, lush and vibrant though it very well could be in the sunlight, looks rather eerie when enveloped within the cloak of night, leaving the trees to take on a rather twisted appearance, what with their gnarled bark and all. The fact that the combatants wage their battle against one another upon a spider’s web only adds to the dark nature of such a scene—especially when one fighter’s blade sinks into the other’s flesh and causes the latter’s blood to spray across the arena to the following tune as composed by Brian L. Schmidt. Of course, this tune isn’t alone in setting WeaponLord’s tone, as every track does a fantastic job of accompanying the brutal duels that take place within the game and help them tell the tale with their hard-pounding drum beats, ominous chants, and triumphant blaring of synthesized brass instrumentals—even though general consensus points towards the SNES port’s soundtrack as being the more potent soundtrack of the two in this regard. However, in spite of how all I’ve described thus far illustrates the bleak and desolate nature of the world of WeaponLord, this atmosphere would still not be nearly grim and gritty as it is without all the blood and gore that this game has to offer. As the old saying goes, after all, “War is Hell,” and what better way to prove that saying true than by illustrating it with buckets of blood spraying all over the battleground? I’m not just talking about blood spewing from a freshly cut opponent, either, but being able to defeat said
opponent in grisly fashion—and no, not just by means of a Mortal Kombat-esque fatality. Rather, WeaponLord has an intricate Death Combo system that allows the player to decapitate, disembowel, and render a defeated opponent into a pulp at the end of the deciding round, given that the victor execute the proper move to initiate the killing blow in question. From there, the victor may execute additional death strikes to follow up the initial killing blow and mutilate his or her victim’s corpse even more than he or she already has, given that he or she can follow up his or her initial killing blow with another, given that the initial move could link into the second move. By way of this system, the player can strike an opponent several times upon defeating them and render the poor soul’s body to buzzard food with his or her skull cleanly sliced from his or her body and stripped of all its flesh, his or her brain and/or bowels lying right next to the rest of him or her, and his or her torso cleaved wide open. Trust me…it’s something
that needs to be seen in order to fully understand and appreciate, especially considering what it and all the other factors mentioned here succeed in accomplishing: providing WeaponLord with a setting that evokes a sense of unnerving brutality and stays true to the dark fantasy theme that it ultimately succeeds in emulating. As a result, this game stands out from all other fighting games of its time in more ways than one and definitely deserves to be commemorated right alongside the more commercially successful games of its day for what it was able to accomplish.

Settings that Center upon a Given Theme

With so many diverse environments to explore, dangers to avoid, and enemies to destroy (not to mention a decidedly well-developed story to accompany it all), Akuji the Heartless doesn't disappoint in providing players with arguably one of the more memorable gaming experiences that a PlayStation owner could ask for.

With so many diverse environments to explore, dangers to avoid, and enemies to destroy (not to mention a decidedly well-developed story to accompany it all), Akuji the Heartless doesn’t disappoint in providing players with arguably one of the more memorable gaming experiences that a PlayStation owner could ask for.

Next on the list of video game settings worth talking about are those that revolve around a given theme. To put it simply, a setting need not be only a time and a place; sometimes including additional thematic elements does the trick in capturing an audience’s attention. Cocoron, for example, doesn’t just take place within any old dream world, but rather a dream world based on the dreamer’s own imagination where the whole principle in survival is for the dreamer to put his or her imagination to the test and make the most out of it before the figments of his or her same imagination (i.e., the many hostile denizens of Cocoron’s dream world) overwhelm him or her and lead him or her to his her demise. In other words, the game’s setting revolves around the theme of the duality of human imagination and how it can both help and hurt the individual in question. Such can also be said for the case of certain other video game settings, the least of which not being Akuji the Heartless by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Interactive. Released on December 31, 1998 in North American and in the February of 1999 in Europe for the Sony PlayStation, this action platformer revolves around Akuji, a hardened voodoo warrior priest who is expected to marry the daughter of a powerful chieftain from a rival tribe, the Tanko, so as to forge an alliance between the Tanko and his own tribe, the Selvia, so as to solidify his father Murat’s sovereign over all of Mamora. Sadly, before he and his bride-to-be Kesho (also known as Kaisha by some gamers) can undergo their wedding rites, Akuji is murdered by his older brother Orad, who then rips out his heart and places a curse on it so as to subjugate him to roaming the Underworld for eternity. While trapped within the realm of the damned, Akuji seeks the guidance of Baron Samedi in helping him return to the realm of the living so that he can avenge himself and prevent both Orad from sacrificing Kesho to the gods and the Selvia and Tanko tribes from warring with one another. However, in order for Baron Samedi to even consider his wish, Akuji must collect the souls of his ancestors, which have been scattered across the four vestibules of Hell and are tainting them with their evil presence, and bring them to the loa as a toll. From this information, it should be easy to see this game’s theme: earning for oneself a second chance at what one had lost and going through hell and back—literally, in this case—to regain it. Needless to say, the many regions of the Underworld mirror this principle quite well with all the challenges that they provide to test not only Akuji’s athletic prowess and magical aptitude, but also his courage and therefore his will to make things right again. Granted, these challenges might not seem too difficult for our protagonist to overcome in the beginning, particularly with his initial enemies consisting of the occasional specter and a small handful of creatures one would expect to find in an accursed jungle, such as giant dragonflies, carnivorous two-legged birds, the weakest of all the game’s sandworms. However, this menagerie of monstrosities sure enough grows to include even more nightmarish that quite readily fit in with the whole “horrors of voodoo” theme that the game centralizes itself upon—monsters such as legless and armless zombies, skull-headed beetles, demonic rhinoceroses and gorillas, floating serpents, fireball-hurling demons, and of course, the four nightmarish guardians of each of Hell’s vestibules, all of whom are out to prevent Akuji from fulfilling his destiny. These foul creatures aren’t the only thing standing in between him and resurrection, though, for outside of the battles with the four wardens, each sector has its share of hazards and other obstacles for our intrepid hero to overcome, most of which are unique to the environment to which they belong. For example, Oinos the Dark Acropolis (also known as “The Arena of Death”) is armed to the teeth with retractable floor and wall spikes, spiked roller gates, two sets of rolling boulder tracks, an open flame pillars, and a toxic steam vent for Akuji to either maneuver through or skirt around. Khalas, the Sanctum of Hate, on the other hand, offers such challenges as vanishing platforms, pools of acid, and spinning wooden totems with metal spikes protruding from them that threaten to skewer our hero where he stands, lest he be quick enough to dodge them. There are also platforming sections where the platforms in question are invisible to the naked eye and require the use of the nearby red mirrors to find out where they are as well as a small bridge puzzle high above the final room in the level and a battle with a sub-boss named Vasdu, a wall-mounted skull who guards the spirit gate at the level’s end. Limbo, too, has its own unique obstacles, including a complex system of platforms that are activated by striking various taurus points with either Akuji’s wrist blades or magic and two platforming sections that each involve a giant green sphere of plasma that needs to be avoided by systematically jumping onto a series of rotating platforms before said sphere knocks Akuji down into the bottomless chasm beneath him. I could go further in describing the rest of these sectors in detail, but doing so would be redundant. However, I will say this: If there is not but one thing to enhance this already diverse and spine-tingling atmosphere, it’d be the introductory, intermissive, and conclusive cut scenes and the verbal introduction to nearly (though not necessarily all) every level. During these instances, where Richard Roundtree (yes, the Richard Roundtree from Shaft and the 1977 television series Roots) and various other cinematic and televised productions) plays the voice of Akuji himself and narrates for us our hero’s innermost thoughts and feelings as he progresses through his quest and prepares to face that which lies ahead of him. It is indeed this effort to both show and tell the action in the story that gives the player an idea of how much of an effect his new environment is taking a toll on Akuji’s soul, particularly in relation to that which he had unfortunately endured at the very beginning of the story with Orad. As such, this very narration—aside from giving us a direct insight into Akuji as a character and informing us about just what kind of a person he is—also sensibly enough pushes the story forward and helps the player care all that much more about beating the game and helping Akuji seek retribution against the evil that was responsible for damning him to the Underworld in the first place. It is thanks to it, therefore, that the atmosphere of Akuji the Heartless officially becomes complete and—along with the game’s responsive controls, familiar and easy-to-adapt-to gameplay engine (as used in Gex: Enter the Gecko, also by Crystal Dynamics), definitively developed protagonist and plot, and well-polished graphics and sound—helps to make it one of the more time-honored games of its genre for the PlayStation.

In Eternal Champions, life is the ultimate prize, and you better well believe that the journey to earning a second chance at it won't be an easy task in the slightest, as you'll have to square off against eight other fighters--all equally determined as you are to win back that which has been stolen from them--and THE Eternal Champion himself across many a different landscape in order to prove your worth of receiving such a grand reward.

In Eternal Champions, life is the ultimate prize, and you better well believe that the journey to earning a second chance at it won’t be an easy task in the slightest, as you’ll have to square off against eight other fighters–all equally determined as you are to win back that which has been stolen from them–and THE Eternal Champion himself across many a different landscape in order to prove your worth of receiving such a grand reward.

The theme of retribution is far from exclusive to Akuji the Heartless, however, for there
have been a good number of fighting games that have based their settings on this motif as well. Sega’s Eternal Champions and Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side most definitely comes to mind with its focus on an omnipotent being known as the Eternal Champion holding a fighting tournament for several select lesser-known figures from history and rewarding the best fighter among them a chance to avoid whatever premature and unjust death he or she had suffered in his or her previous life. Naturally, then, though the Eternal Champion’s meditation chamber in Heaven serves as the hub for the entire story, the setting for each fight within the tournament often enough shifts from one time period to the next with each scene representing a certain
era specific to one of the fighters (i.e., the streets of 1920s Chicago for ex-cat burglar Larcen Tyler, a beach near the South China Sea in 1899 A.D. for Jetta Maxx the travelling circus acrobat, the Cyber-Dome circa 2345 A.D. for R.A.X. Coswell the cybernetic Muay Thai kickboxer, etc.). Ordinarily, these separate scenes would make little sense if they were ever put together to constitute an entire setting for any story without a collective motif holding them together such as time travel. Luckily, the aforementioned theme of second chances plays a perfect role as the hub for the overall setting of the EC games, thus completing the picture and giving potential fans the chance to make sense of what the pair of them are all about. The same can be said about Thrill Kill, a game developed by the now-defunct Paradox Development in the late 1990s for the Sony PlayStation that—while never officially released to the masses—nonetheless has its influence on the video game market, most recognizably the fact that Paradox had used its gameplay engine in a number of other fighting games that it was responsible for such as Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style, both X-Men: Mutant Academy games, and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots Arena. Originally meant for publication by Virgin Interactive, Electronic Arts had managed to acquire Virgin in the summer of 1998 along with many of the titles that it had planned to publish prior to the company’s purchase. As such, it was EA who was responsible for cancelling Thrill Kill’s release to the public in the October of 1998 on the grounds that they felt it would harm their public image to publish a game that they felt was “senselessly violent”—so offensive in this regard, in fact, that they additionally refused to sell the game to another publisher to be released (For an official quote by then-EA director of corporate communications Patricia Becker, please visit Fuzzd0rk’s Thrill Kill commemoration website.). That didn’t stop former employees who had worked on the game from later it in full on the internet along with various beta versions, however, or from many a bootleg of the game from swarming the market and catching the attention of its intended audience. As such, the title has earned quite a reputation amongst the gaming community at large, and the story lives on with anyone and everyone who has so much acquainted themselves with Thrill Kill. This story is pretty simple: Ten souls, eight initial and two unlockable, have all been damned to Hell for either inhumane crimes that they had committed during their lives (e.g., Belladonna Marie Concherto for killing her husband for cheating on her with her own sister) or because of some disturbing psychological disorder or other that they possess (e.g., Billy B. Tattoo, a.k.a. “The Imp,” for his disturbingly acute Napoleon complex). This isn’t exactly the same classical vision of Hell that the famous Middle Ages poet Dante degli Alighieri told the world about in Inferno, the first part of his highly documented epic poem La Divina Commedia, however. Rather, this incarnation of Hell is more modernized in that much of it is based on the real world as it was inhabited by late-1990s deviants—an all-too-perfect setting for a mess of lost and/or fallen souls who had succumbed to their vices and/or mental weaknesses while walking among the living. Though there are a few less genre-specific dungeons within which battle may partake (e.g., the Chamber of Anguish and the Sacrificial Ruins), some of the more era-specific fighting grounds for the combatants’ bloody melees include a prison cell, a sewer, a public bathroom that comes complete with shattered mirrors and graffiti, and a padded sanitarium cell. There’s also an arena called “Dante’s Cage,” which has a design that is known to have been inspired by the puzzle box from Hellraiser and serves as the chamber of Marukka, the Goddess of Secrets and organizer of this whole psychotic bloodbath. Additionally, there’s one key game design element that helps to further illustrate the sinister nature of this environment within which the game takes place—namely, the meters that exist above each fighter’s name during combat. In other games, these meters would be simple health bars and would show the stamina that each contender had left during the fight. In Thrill Kill, however, no such thing exists, seeing as each of these fighters is no longer his or her living self and instead is a walking incarnation of his or her faults. As such, in the absence of health meters, these very same bars are called “kill meters” in that they fill up with every hit that the warrior in question lands against the opposition. The more devastating the hit, no matter which opponent takes it, the more the fighter’s kill meter will fill up, and once the meter is full, the character may be able to snag any of his or her opponents and perform a fatality on him or her with the most special of all fatalities reserved for the final victim at the end of the battle. All the player has to do is to press and hold the proper combination of buttons on the controller when his or her character’s fatality animation cues up before chasing after his or her intended victim to determine the fate of said opponent, whether that fate be being torn apart limb from limb or being contorted into a human pretzel or even being shrunken down to size and squished like a bug. Oh, and did I mention that up to four competitors can compete in a given arena at once? If so, my apologies, because it is this feature of the game that further illustrates the desperate nature of this little contest that Marukka has staged for the other ten combatants. It’s every man for himself and every woman for herself in this glorified mosh pit challenge, after all, as there can only be one participant who will receive the gift of reincarnation while the rest of the participants are forced to live the rest of their miserable afterlives in eternal damnation for their moral and/or psychological shortcomings. To summarize, then, whether it’s a tournament held for good-intentioned people who all seek to regain the lives they had unjustly lost or evil/tortured souls slaughtering each other in Hell for a chance at rebirth, the theme of redemption and second chances has often enough served as a respectable hub for the settings of video games and gives a common ground for some keenly interesting settings for such games. Only time will tell, however, if game developers will take notice of such an idea and incorporate it into future video games or, in reference to the whole premise of this mini-series, if future authors will do the same for whatever books they plan to write and have published for the mass literary market.

War is Hell, alright--especially when it comes to being one of ten condemned souls who must duke it out within the mosh pits of Hell in order to earn the right to be reborn...although doing a little victory dance after all is said and done isn't completely out of question (bottom right).

War is Hell, alright–especially when it comes to being one of ten condemned souls who must duke it out within the mosh pits of Hell in order to earn the right to be reborn…although doing a little victory dance after all is said and done isn’t completely out of question (bottom right).

Settings that Aren’t Afraid to Go All Out

Finally, there are certain video games that I’ve become familiar with over the years that aren’t afraid to represent their chosen genre in fresh new ways, even at the expense of coming off as relatively ludicrous. Sometimes, these video games do this by incorporating elements of other genres into their plot, such as with Alisia Dragoon, as mentioned earlier in this article. At other times, these games stick closely to a given archetype from the genre they emulate and avoid most—if not, in fact, all—elements that the developers feel might compromise the game’s overall nature, as is the case with WeaponLord. However, as much as these games deserve all the praise they’ve received over the years and then some, sometimes it’s nice to play a game that simply tries to be fun…even if the premise tends towards being campy as all hell. Now, I suppose I could add Thrill Kill to this list, seeing as how its overall morbid tone is oftentimes broken up by a little something silly here or there, such as certain costumes that the characters have or the fact that the player can input a certain command prior to committing a fatality to instead perform a victory dance, usually with the final opponent as a dance partner. Then again, there are plenty of games where the camp factor maintains a more constant flow throughout the plot and establishes the overall mood of the game more definitively. Such games include the likes of Boogerman, Earthworm Jim, Wild 9, Interplay’s Clayfighter series, and a number of arcade beat ‘em ups from the 1990s such as Violent Storm, Battle Circuit, and Ninja Baseball Bat Man. Of all these games, one particular favorite of mine has always been Crude Buster from 1991 by Data East. Also known as Two Crude Dudes, this popular arcade beat ‘em up takes place in 2030 A.D. New York City twenty years after a nuclear explosion wipes out the entire metropolis and reduces it to a rubble-laden wasteland. Unfortunately, while the restoration process had been going well since this disaster, its perpetrators—a terrorist organization known as Big Valley—soon emerge to prevent the city from being rebuilt and reassuming its former glory so that they can use it as a launching pad from which they can gain control of the entire nation. Armed to the teeth with the most advanced and unorthodox arsenal imaginable and consisting of numerous post-explosion survivors whose already genetically altered bodies have undergone further medical experimentation to the point where they’ve been transformed into murderous fighting machines, Big Valley is clearly not your typical street gang and as such need to be handled by only the roughest, toughest, and—dare I say—crudest mercenaries that the U.S. government can afford. Enter Biff and Spikes, the Crude Busters/Two Crude Dudes, who traverse the whole of post-nuke NYC from devastated downtown to Big Valley’s headquarters, the aptly named “Sky-Lab,” in an effort to earn their seven-plus-figure paychecks and face this clandestine pack of international criminals in good old fashioned toe-to-toe combat. Sound a little too insane for a major motion picture? Well, maybe it is…but hey, the whole theme works wonders for a video game—especially one from the early 1990s, when beat ‘em ups were very much in fashion. The setting of nuke-ravaged 2030 A.D. NYC certainly allowed the developers to put the imaginations to the test, that’s for sure, by pitting our heroes against more than just random street thugs—even though such enemies do appear in the game, albeit as obligatory beat ‘em up cannon fodder. For example, Biff and Spike have plenty of cyborgs to lay waste to, from cybernetic hounds and wall-clinging mad bombers to head-hurling cousins of the T-800 from Terminator and even a cyborg with a telescopic arm. There are also, as mentioned before, plenty of mutants, from blood-sucking hunchbacks and a green-skinned, explosive-tossing Santa Claus imposter to all of the game’s bosses, most of whom have one kind of animal motif or another, from the python-whipping Heavy Snake and the bull-charging Rhino-Man to the ravenous and hideous Nail Spider and the outright bestial Tiny Leo. Heck, even those enemies who aren’t cyborgs or mutants fit in nicely with their compatriots with either their unconventional weaponry (e.g., the flamethrower-toting Pyromaniacs and the razor-throwing Disc Cutters) or their simple thug-like premise that remind the player of the urban landscape that the Dudes could very well be traversing presently, such as the Kung Fu-kicking Black Gill to the hefty, hard-hitting, punch-sponging “Grease Monkey” goons. Oh, and don’t let me forget about the miniature tanks that Data East had programmed into the Genesis port of this game. Thankfully, the Dudes are far from helpless against such an outlandish yet nonetheless dangerous army, what with their ability to pick up and throw practically anything that isn’t nailed down to the ground, from trash cans, oil drums, and billboards to boulders, street signs, out-of-order stoplights, and even cars. Yes, people…cars! There are also certain weapons in the game that our protagonists can wield like clubs for a limited number of swings before resorting back to their trusty fists and feet to pound every Big Valley minion they cross paths with…or, for that matter, every decaying wall that stands in between them and their intended prey. Not only that, but inasmuch as this setting has a strong influence on the game’s antagonists, it also allows our heroes to develop personalities of their own and showcase them any which way they can, from flexing their muscles after clobbering the living snot out of a boss to guzzling down Power Cola in between levels and belching (at least in the arcade version) to some of the many macho yet fun saying that pop out of their mouths on occasion, such as “Jingle bell, jingle bells!” at the beginning of the fallout-covered “Winter Wonderland” that is the fourth level, “Pump it up! Stay cool!” after beating a level, or even grumbling “What a day…” when climbing back to their feet after getting knocked down. Throw in a criminally catchy soundtrack of instrumental 1990s industrial music and comic book-like onomatopoeia reminiscent of the time-honored yet admittedly cheesy live action Batman television show from the 1960s, and you’ve got yourself one of the most tongue-in-cheek action titles that the video game industry has ever seen—at least as far as the 1990s are concerned, that is. Granted, Crude Buster/Two Crude Dudes might not be a game for everyone because of its off-the-wall nature, but hey, I myself would be lying if I were to cry out against it, because after all is said and done, I’d received quite a bit of enjoyment from this doggone game and its far-out premise that I will remember for the rest of my days.

Only the strongest, toughest, and (dare I say) the CRUDEST can survive the nuke-ravaged wasteland of 2030 A.D. New York City. Hey, it's as the old saying goes: "If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere."

Only the strongest, toughest, and (dare I say) the CRUDEST can survive the nuke-ravaged wasteland of 2030 A.D. New York City. Hey, it’s as the old saying goes: “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”

And so I hereby conclude my discussion on what I’ve learned from video games as a writer, at least for now. I hope that this four-part article discussion has helped to give you readers an idea of how I see video games as every bit of a storytelling medium as I do novels and how they can teach writers some basic fundamentals in how to craft their own works of fiction. If there are any additional elements about video games that I feel the need to talk about, I’ll be sure to add another article or two to this discussion as I see fit. However, for the time being, I’ll be focusing on additional topics for this segment of mine that also tie in to writing. As such, for those of you who have stuck around to read all four parts of this mini-series, I thank you. For those of you who haven’t fear not, for I’ve included links to each of the previous three articles at the end of this one so that you can see what else I’ve talked about. Either way, folks, thank you all once again for your time, and as always, be sure to visit my author page at Smashwords.com and my Author Central pages at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Until next time, then, happy reading!

Regards,

Dustin M. Weber

*****

PS: As mentioned above, here are the links to the other parts of this miniseries:

Part 1: June 30, 2012

Part 2: July 10, 2012

Part 3: February 9, 2013

*****

PS: All games discussed in the article above are properties of the following developers and publishers: 

Alisia Dragoon © 1992 Game Arts and Gainax

WeaponLord © 1995 Visual Concepts and Namco Ltd./Namco Bandai Games

Akuji the Heartless © 1998 Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Interactive.

Eternal Champions and Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side © 1993-1995 Sega Interactive Development Division

Thrill Kill © 1998 Paradox Development and Electronic Arts, Inc.  (CANCELLED)

Crude Buster/Two Crude Dudes © 1990-1991 Data East

All rights reserved.

All images used hail from the following sources:

Alisia Dragoon images from GameFAQs.com

WeaponLord images from Wikipedia.org and WEAPONLORD:SEGA GENESIS by bernar lux (YouTube)

Akuji the Heartless images from Akuji the Heartless playthrough by doomer2012 (YouTube)

Eternal Champions images from Mega Drive Longplay [116] Eternal Champions by cubex55 (YouTube)

Thrill Kill images from Fuzzd0rk’s Thrill Kill webpage and Thrill Kill Fatalities by TheUltimateBastich (YouTube)

Crude Buster/Two Crude Dudes images from Crude Busters Arcade – 2 players Playthrough by NzOx (YouTube)

All opinions expressed in this article, however, are those of the author himself.

In Relation to My Work: How Video Games Spur My Creativity, part 3

Cocoron: A fun and imaginative Famicom platformer that had never officially made its way to North America

Cocoron: A fun and imaginative Famicom platformer that had never officially made its way to North America

Welcome back, readers!

I know it’s been a while, but as you may remember from my second installment of “In Relation to My Work: How Video Games Spur My Creativity” from July 10, the topic of interest was character development. Well, this time around, we shall examine something that’s not too distant from that particular subject: video games that allow the player to create his or her own character. As per the whole theme of this mini-series, we investigate how both current and future writers can glean at least a smidgeon of inspiration from video games to help them in writing their own works, so it shouldn’t be of any surprise that this specific topic would come up on our radar. That being said, there are four games in particular—or, at the very least, four kinds of games—that I shall be talking about in this article, all of which allow gamers to test the potency of their creative juices by giving them the option to create their own characters. Using these games as examples within the discussion, I hope to demonstrate how a given video game’s character creation system can help writers put their imaginations to the test and learn to use the templates provided by the games themselves to create original characters that they can in turn use as characters in their own work, given that they also take the time to sever the ties they may have to whatever preexisting material already exists within the game in question (i.e., feuds that a player’s created wrestler might be having with a given wrestler-based character within a given wrestling game). Without further ado, then, let’s dive in and see how this process works.

Initial Character Design

To begin with, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from any given video game with a create-a-character feature, it’s how to use that which the game gives me to design my characters and to not let technical limitations or other restrictions prevent me from piecing them together. After all, even the most advanced create-a-character mode in video game history has its boundaries, but just because such boundaries exist doesn’t mean that the player has to confine his or her imagination as well. After all, he or she can still use and combine whatever bits, pieces, odds and ends the engine has available to come up with any number of potential characters to play as in the game. All that really matters is whether or not the player can still think “outside the box” and arrange these very elements accordingly to come up with a well-rounded on-screen avatar. Such is the process of using templates with these modes, as it’s all about choosing the right combination of characteristics to help ensure that your character is ideal for the task that lies ahead of him or her. To understand this process, one need look no further than a fun little lesser-known action platformer from 1991 for the Famicom (the Japanese version of North America and Europe’s own Nintendo Entertainment System) called Cocoron.

Meet Tapir, Wizard of the Dream World and your guide into the heart of Takeru and K2's pleasantly bizarre creation, Cocoron.

Meet Tapir, Wizard of the Dream World and your guide into the heart of Takeru and K2’s pleasantly bizarre creation, Cocoron.

While I’m sure that there are certain gamers out there who dismiss Cocoron as being a “rip-off” of the Mega Man games because it, too, is a jump-and-shoot action platformer that has a variety of weapons to utilize against the enemy as well as a stage selection screen, the fact of the matter is that most gamers who have been fortunate enough to play it love it for what it is on account of readily recognizing and getting into its simple yet engaging concept. The premise of it is straightforward enough to understand: You have been invited to the Dream World by the wizard Tapir to partake in a quest to rescue Princess Rua from the “evil forces” who have captured her. Standard fare, of course, except for one interesting twist that I personally have yet to see in any game from this genre predating this one: You, the hero, are allowed to create six different avatars—each with its own head, body, and weapon—that you can take control of during your little rescue mission. However, aside from aesthetic appeal, each head and body has its own unique Hit Point total and Weight Value that affects how much damage the avatar in question can take and how well he or she can maneuver on the playing field, respectively. Additionally, certain bodies have traits that make them more useful in certain situations in comparison to other bodies, such as the Jet and Wing bodies with their hovering capabilities and the Tank body with its incredible traction that allows it to “stick” to slopes, which other bodies slide down regardless of the substance a certain slope might otherwise be made of. Each Weapon (referred to as “Arms” in the game) has a Weight Value of its own, which in turn contributes to how light or heavy your avatar is, as well as an assigned Damage Value and its own particular attack pattern that is particularly notable for when the weapon is powered up. For a more comprehensive list of the heads, bodies, and weapons available in Cocoron, please consult the lists below.

*****

YouTube Let's Play video maker Deceased Crab selects his first avatar's head...

YouTube Let’s Play video maker Deceased Crab selects his first avatar’s head…

Heads

Hero: 156 wt, 12 HP

Ninja: 112 wt, 8 HP

Robot: 289 wt, 16 HP

Alien: 200 wt, 4 HP

Fighter: 333 wt, 16 HP

Monster (Animal): 245 wt, 12 HP

Ghost: 67 wt, 8 HP

? (Miscellaneous): 23 wt, 4 HP

...body...

…body…

Bodies

Armor: 433 wt, 24 HP; obviously the most durable body in the entire game

Wing: 101 wt, 8 HP; can hover in the air for a short period of time

Jet: 499 wt, 16 HP; can hover in the air for a long period of time

Cyborg: 301 wt, 20 HP; lighter weight than Tank bodies and every bit as durable, but still ends up sliding down slopes just like all the other bodies

Boat: 234 wt, 12 HP; can float on milk (Cocoron’s equivalent to water)

Buggy: 167 wt, 16 HP; faster ground movement than most other bodies

Tank: 367 wt, 20 HP; can stand steady on sloped surfaces as if they were flat

? (Miscellaneous): 34 wt, 4 HP; relatively fast bodies thanks to their reduced weight and (if I remember correctly) are known for their admirable jumping capacity

...and weapon.

…and weapon.

Weapons

Parasol: 71 wt, 3 damage; short- to medium-range projectile that floats upwards to strike airborne targets

Boomerang: 93 wt, 4 damage; short-range projectile that predictably returns upon being thrown; adds an additional boomerang that can attack enemies at an upper-forward and down-forward angle when powered up to levels 4 and 5, respectively

Shuriken: 141 wt, 6 damage; long-range projectile that, once powered up to levels 4 and 5, respectively, can launch behind and directly above the wielder as well as in front

Ball: 43 wt, 4 damage; long-range projectile that can’t pass through walls (unlike other projectiles), but can roll up slopes when launched at them and, when powered up at levels 4 and 5, can fan upwards at higher degree angles to hit airborne targets

Pencil: 25 wt, 3 damage; long-range projectile that, when powered up to levels 4 and 5, can strike targets on higher platforms

Crystal: 167 wt, 3 damage; [painfully] short-ranged grenade that can split off into two separate chunks that fly off in a “V”-shaped pattern that can—once powered up to levels 4 and 5, respectively—changes into an “X”-pattern and a full eight-directional asterisk pattern

Flower: 116 wt, 3 damage; short-ranged grenade weapon that increases in both blast radius and blast duration with each and every level

Melody: 11 wt, 3 damage; long-range projectile weapon that travels in a relatively slow wave pattern across the screen

*****

Next, it's through the Fairy Forest DC goes...

Next, it’s through the Fairy Forest DC goes…

Upon becoming familiar with these tidbits, the player is then charged the task of creating the ideal “rescue squadron” of alter egos, starting with the first created avatar, whom he or she deploys to one of five possible regions as marked on the Dream World map: the Milk Sea, Trump Castle, Ice-Fire Mountain, Star Hill, or the Fairy Forest. Once the boss of that region has been neutralized, the player is allowed to create another alter ego, whom he or she then deploys to one of the remaining four regions (lest, of course, he or she wants to continue using a previously created avatar) to defeat the boss located there. This cycle continues until all five bosses have fallen and the player has six avatars under her control, after which the rescue mission for Princess Rua begins. Sounds simple, right? It can be—assuming, of course, that you’re familiar with the layout of each of the five stages (as well as Rua’s location once all five bosses have been neutralized) and of the final gauntlet that awaits you after you’ve saved Rua and discovered the identity of the fiend responsible for her abduction. The question remains, then, as to whether or not you personally know which exact bodies, weapons, and even heads will benefit you most on your quest. For example, which regions require a Jet or Wing body to cross successfully, and how much better is the Jet body over the Wing body—and, consequently, vice versa—for those regions? Similarly, where would a Tank or Buggy body be handiest to use? Against which enemies, bosses included, are certain weapons most effective? Which head should a player equip to provide a given body a decent allotment of health, yet not weigh said body down to the point where it becomes utterly useless in platforming, which is a key element in this game? Such is what the gamer must keep in mind when developing the avatars he or she requires to rescue Princess Rua from the clutches of evil. Of course, should he or she do just that and end up winning the game…well…what’s left for your heroes to do?

...to do battle with the nefarious Queen Titania and rescue a captured ally.

…to do battle with the nefarious Queen Titania and rescue a captured ally.

The answer to this question is actually pretty simple: Create a new adventure for them to embark on—not in the game itself, obviously, considering that the adventure the programmers have given you has already come to an end. Rather, provide the taskforce you’ve created a whole new mission to accomplish within a fictitious universe of your own design. After all, Cocoron is a game that embraces creativity and the power of imagination, and as a means of celebrating that theme, why not formulate an entirely new setting for the characters you’ve created to roam within, complete with new threats to thwart and dangers to avoid? It doesn’t even have to mimic the Dream World in the game, either. In fact, the more unique and differentiated your own setting is from Cocoron’s Dream World, the better—particularly if the regions of your universe share themes similar to those of the characters you’d created to play as in the game. For example, if you’ve managed to create a kitsune ninja character using the fox Monster head and equip him/her with the Shuriken, why not create a continent within your world where the culture mirrors that of feudal Japan? You could even stretch the boundaries of what you can create with the templates the game provides you with and add additional characters with an archetypal Japanese flavor to them to your party—ninjas and samurai, primarily, but possibly even a draconic warrior or a ghostly mystic as well. Then again, based on the nature of some of the heads and bodies that are available to build characters with, perhaps it’d be easier for some gamers to create an action rescue team that has more of a toy theme attached to them and as such operates in a world that’s more or less one gigantic toy land of sorts. Heaven knows just how many robots, action figures, and even clown dolls one can create using the heads and bodies provided in the game’s create-a-character feature. Heck, even the weapons have natures that have more of a “Create Your Own Action Figure” feel to them, from Balls and Pencils to Parasols and even Melodies. Regardless of whatever theme your new setting has, however, its purpose as the new stage for your created characters’ adventures remains the same, and soon after you create it, you’ll be able to flesh your heroes’ missions out from that point on, from the villains they must conquer and all the devious problems they instigate for your protagonists to any and all additional characters with whom your heroes interact with and non-enemy-related challenges that they must overcome. Who knows? You might even want to tweak your original characters to both more readily stand out from the mere collection of pixilated body parts they might otherwise be within the original game and more appropriately fit this new environment you’ve created for them. Not only can you give each protagonist a unique personality and assortment of character flaws, but you can also grant him or her an additional ability or two that he or she could put to use in whatever adventures the team sets forth on, such as keen survival instincts or a sharp mind for puzzle solving. The only stipulation in this case would be to keep in mind the temptation to overpower your characters and make them nigh-invincible—a common flaw in many a work of fan fiction that destroys any room for conflict for your protagonists, which is one of the key elements to any good story. I’d go into further detail about character development (and plot development, for that matter), but doing so would defeat the purpose of the next two sections of this article.

The Sims: The first game in a beloved series by Maxis and Electronic Arts where players can create their own characters, provide them their living quarters, and then just sit back and enjoy what unfolds afterwards

The Sims: The first game in a beloved series by Maxis and Electronic Arts where players can create their own characters, provide them their living quarters, and then just sit back and enjoy what unfolds afterwards

Character Development

Once you’ve gotten the initial design of each character down pat, the next step to develop your character’s persona. As I’ve mentioned in my second installment of this discussion, it takes more than great graphics and keen in-game abilities to create a memorable video game character; it also takes personality and, if applicable, a little bit of backstory. After all, it’s not always enough for a gamer to be able to move a character across the screen and perform such standard tasks as collecting items and defeating enemies in order to become invested in said character, no matter how well amassed his or her pixels are or how seamlessly his or her polygons are fused together. Sometimes, it takes a little something more, and when I say “a little something more,” I basically refer to a lot of things—his or her interactions with other characters in the game, for example, or the words that come out of his or her mouth randomly during gameplay or even the poses and/or facial expressions he or she makes during certain parts of the game (i.e., a victory pose he or she might strike after defeating a certain opponent or reaching the end of a given level). This is even truer for literary characters, who—save for as illustrations on a book’s cover or within certain books’ pages—remain invisible to the reader’s eye and as such require strong, identifiable social and mental traits in order for the reader to identify and connect with them. This point can very well be illustrated with the following exercise.

Let’s say, for instance, you’re playing a platformer such as the NES classic Adventure Island by Hudson Soft or Sky Taxi by Alawar Entertainment for the PC and feel the need to relate the actions of the protagonist as you’re playing as him or her in either a brief essay or a short story. First off, try writing the essay and offer a direct recount of everything the protagonist did while you were controlling him or her, be it collecting items, unlocking and/or entering doors, racing to the finish line of the level you were playing, or battling the boss at the end of that very level. Don’t even bother narrating what would surely be going through the protagonist’s mind at the moment, either, or whatever he or she would surely say during the course of his or her adventure. In fact, completely disregard whatever story had already been written for the character by the game’s creative team in the first place; just discuss the facts of the experience. Next, try writing the short story and retell your gaming experience in a third-person narrative style. Better yet, write it as though you yourself were the protagonist and were detailing the adventure as if the events occurring on your monitor were happening to you. Now, once you have both the essay and the short story written, have someone you know read both works and determine for himself or herself as to which work provides the more enjoyable reading experience and for what reason. Chances are that the reader will choose the short story over the essay. Why? Well, chances are it will have something to do with characterization—the idea that unlike in the essay, the short story will provide the subject of both works (i.e., the protagonist in the game you’ve played) with various traits and mannerisms that you more likely than not would have neglected to give him or her in the essay.

Okay, so Scruffy Grapes's biography here isn't as thorough as that of most Sims...but then again, sometimes it's what a Sim does in the present that makes the most impact in this game.

Okay, so Scruffy Grapes’s biography here isn’t as thorough as that of most Sims…but then again, sometimes it’s what a Sim does in the present that makes the most impact in this game.

This same principle proves true when you create a character of your own within a video game or for a book. Sure, a unique and interesting appearance may make the character look appealing, but in order to really give him or her a life of his or her own, you’ll need to give him some kind of personality. Luckily, there are some games with create-a-character modes that allow gamers to give their created characters certain features that emphasize how they behave during gameplay. One such game that comes to my mind is the PC classic The Sims (also for the Sony PayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube) by Maxis and Electronic Arts, which allows the player to not only create various character models with the heads and bodies that it provides, but also to develop each created character’s (or Sim’s) personality based on how Neat, Outgoing, Active, Playful, and/or Nice the gamer wants that particular Sim to be. Whether the player chooses to allot a specific number of personality points to each of these five traits or select an astrological sign (Libra, Vertigo, Aquarius, etc.) to assign a behavioral archetype to predetermine these traits for him or her, the end result nonetheless determines how the designed character behaves in the game and, as such, how he or she coexists with his or her fellow Sims. Turning on the Free Will option in the Options Mode naturally allows the gamer’s Sim the ability to think for himself or herself, thus further allowing him or her to witness how his or her creation interacts with his or her environment and satisfy each of his or her eight needs (Hunger, Comfort, Hygiene, Bladder, Energy, Fun, Social, and Room). Such autonomy is essential, too, for allowing the Sim to behave on his or her own without having to rely on the gamer to constantly issue instructions on what to do, where to go, and so forth, therefore making in-game character development that much more organic and, in a sense that much more interesting to witness over time. Granted, there are still some decisions that the player must make in order to keep the Sim alive and help progress his or her story. After all, a Sim who neglects his or her most immediate needs—particularly Hunger—can indeed actually die in-game if not instructed and not given the free will to feed himself or herself, and there are certain events in the game (e.g., accepting a wedding proposal or deciding to have a baby) that the player is expected to make on the Sim’s behalf. Even with that in mind, however, the daily goings-on in the lives of the gamer’s created characters can provide decent novel-worthy if handled right. I’m not even talking about the short biography that the player is allowed to give each of his or her Sims during the creation process, either, even though that, too, helps establish who each Sim is and give potential audiences an idea of how each Sim will interact with one another. Rather, what I’m talking about is how each Sim’s personal story unfolds day by day and how he or she relates not only to such objects in his or her own household as bookshelves, television sets, fish tanks, and computers, but also to his or her housemates (should he or she have any) as well as to any other Sims living in the neighborhood. Imagine the stories that can evolve from such simple things as, say, a dispute between housemates over whose turn it is to take out the trash or the budding relationship between the hard-nosed introvert living in the single-layer house at the end of the street with the sloppy yet charming girl next door. Simple though these events may be by themselves, they are nonetheless potent enough in their subtlety to provide the groundwork needed for some potentially attention-grabbing stories. All the author really needs, then, is the creative potential to weave these singular events into a complete, cohesive, consistent narrative with a definite plot flow and a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Once he or she is able to do that, he or she should be able to create a work of literature that is sure to grasp readers’ attention and maintain their interest throughout, and all based on the attentive development of a single character (or single select group of characters) at that.

Case in point, here's how the sloppy Scruffy's high rating in the Nice category pays off as he chats away Bella Goth, one of the pre-made characters from The Sims.

Case in point, here’s how the sloppy Scruffy’s high rating in the Nice category pays off as he chats away with the prim and proper Bella Goth, one of the pre-made characters from The Sims.

Plot Development

Okay, so we’ve talked about how video games’ create-a-character modes can teach authors how to create likeable, memorable characters not only in terms of appearance, but also in terms of personality. This therefore leaves one final aspect about character development that that these modes can teach authors about when it comes to creating unique characters for potential stories, and that is developing plots for which such characters are suited. This final aspect has been lightly touched upon in the past couple of sections already, but here is where we’ll expand on this notion by taking what we’ve learned so far and examining it deeper. After all, once a gamer has established how his or her created characters both look and behave, it should become easy for him or her to determine the nature of the plot that involves said characters. Now, I’ve already used Cocoron and The Sims in examples where the gamer can take pre-established elements of his characters and craft a worthy environment and plot around them, so I find it only fitting to use the likes of the WWF/WWE series of games as made by the not-too-distantly defunct THQ as well as Namco/Namco Bandai’s very own Soul Calibur series as subjects of interest in our investigation of how the plot of a brand new story can evolve from the creation of characters.

WWF SmackDown!:One of the many reasons why I still own a Sony PS1--even if only for its Create-a-Superstar feature (although the rest of the game isn't too shabby, either ;))

WWF SmackDown!:
One of the many reasons why I still own a Sony PS1–even if only for its Create-a-Superstar feature (although the rest of the game isn’t too shabby, either. Trust me.)

On one hand, we have THQ’s WWF/WWE series of games, a long lineup of wrestling games that places just as much emphasis on the theatrical aspects of professional wrestling as it does on its physical nature. Even in the very beginning with the likes of WWF SmackDown! for the Sony PlayStation, these games have presented players with the ability to witness, influence, and later on fully craft storylines for the wrestler of their choice, starting with SmackDown!’s Preseason Mode. In this mode, a gamer is able to take an original wrestler that he or she had previously created via the game’s Create-a-Superstar Mode and have her spend an entire year earning his or her spot on the World Wrestling Federation roster (See the following GameFAQs.com walkthrough by DoubleH for more details.). As the created wrestler’s story progresses with each match that he or she either wins or loses, his or her journey takes a turn down a different path and offers the gamer different choices to make pertaining to certain alliances that his or her wrestler may be able to forge. Not only that, but winning certain matches provides said wrestler with a chance to gain certain character bonuses along the way while losing said matches brings about the chance to be penalized in a like fashion. Say, for example, I’ve been able to make it to WrestleMania and have my custom wrestler manage to win every single match thus far, including the Royal Rumble. Let’s also say that I’ve thanked Paul Bearer the previous month for the advice he’d offered me on how to defeat Mankind and the Rock in the handicap match that I was booked in that month and afterwards thanked the Acolytes for the compliment they’d given me once I’d beaten the odds and came out on top against the duo known as the Rock ’n’ Sock Connection. However, the game has chosen not to award me with the traits “Paul Bearer +” or “Acolytes +” for my favorable responses towards either of those two parties. Well, guess what: Now that I’m waiting to take on Mankind in a steel cage match, which just might be his chance to exact revenge upon me for making him and his buddy the “People’s Champion” look like chumps for not taking down the new guy in the locker room in a two-on-one situation, along comes the Undertaker prior to my steel cage semi-main event to ask me if I could help soften up Stone Cold Steve Austin prior to their WrestleMania main event singles match. Well, it just so happens that I prefer my character to be a babyface of sorts, so I refuse to make a heel turn and help out the ringleader of the Ministry, thus angering him and falling prey to a two-on-one beat-down from him and Paul Bearer in the backstage hallway prior to my steel cage match with Mankind. Next thing I know, I’m battling “Mrs. Foley’s baby boy” inside the confines of a steel cage and barely manage to pick up the win, and after all is said and done and WrestleMania comes to a close after the Undertaker’s main event match against Stone Cold, I finally end up with the attribute “Paul Bearer –.” Worse yet, because of the pre-match assault that Paul and the Undertaker had given me, I also rack up the attribute “Weak Back,” thus marking a nagging injury my character has suffered on account of my refusal to gang up on a fellow wrestler with whom I’d yet to have developed any issue with.

Soul Calibur III's Create-a-Soul mode: Because sometimes playing a premade character just isn't enough in a fighting game...and for more reasons than one, too.

Soul Calibur III’s Create-a-Soul mode: Because sometimes playing a premade character just isn’t enough in a fighting game…and for more reasons than one, too.

Such is how plot development works in video games. Regardless of whether or not the characters involved have been custom-made by the player, whatever he or she does with them in the game influences how the story that they are a part of progresses from beginning to end with some examples obviously being greater than others. It is thus by paying attention to the working elements of these experiences and applying said elements to his or her own original work that an aspiring author can learn how to create his or her own story for the characters he or she creates from such video games as the ones described in this article. After all, while it’s easy—and, for that matter, tempting—to simply take the story that the game gives you for a created character and replace all the trademarked personalities, places, organizations, and so forth with those of your own design, the process offers little else other than a transparent mimic of the original story that offers just enough ground for critics to dismiss you as not being a serious contributor to the literary world. As such, it is strongly recommended that gamers who aspire to become authors learn to take what they create in such video games and develop something entirely different from what the game in question provides them with. To illustrate what I mean, let’s take a close look at Namco’s very own Soul Calibur III and its Create-a-Soul Mode.

Not only can you create your own character for Soul Calibur III, but those from preexisting sources as well--in this example, comic books.

Not only can you create your own character for Soul Calibur III, but those from preexisting sources as well–in this example, comic books.

When creating a custom character in Soul Calibur III’s Create-a-Soul mode, there are thirteen possible “jobs” (i.e., callings) to choose from: Assassin, Barbarian, Dancer, Gladiator, Knight, Monk, Ninja, Pirate, Sage, Saint, Samurai, Sword Master, and Thief. With the exception of the Sword Master, each of these character types is permitted to utilize one of three distinct custom weapon disciplines (as described in the following on-line guide by DynamoDT on GameFAQs.com) of one of two distinct “souls,” which use the same move sets as certain original in-game characters. The Sword Master, in contrast, can choose any of the seventeen possible custom weapon disciplines, yet has no access to any of the soul disciplines. Needless to say, then, it’s quite probable to create a complete roster of brand new characters, each with his or her own distinct weapon discipline, from the choices provided in the Create-a-Soul mode. Granted, playing through the game’s Chronicles of the Sword mode only broadens these choices by unlocking additional options that aren’t automatically available at the very start of the game, but even the initial choices should be enough for first-time gamers to work with. All a gamer really needs, after all, is his or her imagination and a keen mind towards balance between good and evil characters, and after a given amount of time and an undeniable amount of trial and error, he or she should be able to create a full lineup of weapon-wielding heroes and villains around which he or she can construct his or her own unique story. Imagine, for example, a story involving a young Mafioso employed by his godfather to recover a family heirloom that had been stolen by a rival gang and donated to a local museum of ancient history. However, once the Mafioso manages to locate the heirloom in question, a member of the gang who had stolen the weapon in the first place intercepts him and engages him in a fight. Next thing the two rivals know, along come the museum’s security officers, who try to break them up and apprehend them, but not before a powerful magic awakens from within the heirloom that envelops the rival gangsters and takes them back in time to a day long before a time either of them had even known—a time ruled by the law of the blade, where might made right and the best warrior reigned supreme in securing whatever it is that he or she sought. To make matters worse, the realm that serves as the gangsters’ new surroundings is in a state of upheaval, where two or more factions are vying for power and prestige over the other. From this point, many a question can be asked. Which faction, for example, will each of the two gangsters side with during this great war? Will they be able to set their differences aside and work together at long last, or will their feud escalate beyond their simple respective missions and prompt them both to each side with one of the two opposing forces? Not only that, but how will either one of them venture back to the present? Furthermore, can either of the gangsters trust the allies they make along the way in their quest to escape this new reality they’ve stumbled upon? All are questions that I’ve no doubt will come to mind, should a reader chance upon such a story, which takes the familiar theme of alternate realities/time travel and puts a twist on it. However, whether or not the reader will want to discover the answers to such questions depends on how well the author can present this very story with the help of its players, which he or she had created himself or herself with the help of the Create-a-Soul mode in Soul Calibur III.

Apparently, even a seasoned warrior such as Sophitia cannot resist the insane cunning and grace of a supervillainess of Harley Quinn's "caliber" (if you'll pardon the bad pun).

Apparently, even a seasoned warrior such as Sophitia cannot resist the insane cunning and grace of a supervillainess of Harley Quinn’s “calibur” (if you’ll pardon the bad pun).

In short, having a character creation feature can be quite the boon for any video game on account of how it can stimulate gamers’ creativity. Such features are especially a boon for prospective authors in that they can learn some valuable tips on how to create characters of their own for their own stories as well as fitting plots within which such characters can engage in. I’m quite proud, too, to say that I’ve played plenty of games that have create-a-character modes programmed into them, as these modes have performed well in teaching me the important essentials of what goes into composing the ideal character for a work of fiction—not just looks, either, but also personality. Hopefully, there are other video game players out there, both casual and hardcore, who have had experiences with such games similar to mine and have learned the very lessons I myself have which they in turn can put to use with whatever projects they themselves choose to work on, be it a novel, a short story, a motion picture, a television series, or a video game of their own. After all, solid, well-rounded, identifiable characters are a key element in any good story, no matter what form that story may take, and having such memorable characters within it helps the story itself become that more timeless in its own right.

At any rate, thank you all for reading this third installment of my discussion on how video games inspire my creativity as an author. At this point, I have only one more article left in this miniseries that I intend to produce, although I cannot make any promises as to when I’ll be able to write up and post it. Regardless, stay tuned for it, and feel free to check out the previous two articles in this miniseries, if you haven’t already (or if oyu’d like a recap of what I’ve covered so far under this title). Also, as always, be sure to check out my author page at Smashwords.com and my Author Central pages at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and to stop by for future installments in my “In Relation to My Work” segment at later dates. Until next time, then, happy reading!

Regards,

Dustin M. Weber

*****

PS: As mentioned above, here are the links to the other parts of this miniseries:

Part 1: June 30, 2012

Part 2: July 10, 2012

Part 4: March 26, 2013

*****

PS: All games discussed in the article above are properties of the following developers and publishers: 

Cocoron © 1991 Takeru and K2Multi Creative Team

The Sims © 2000 Maxis and Electronic Arts

WWF SmackDown! © 2000 Yuke’s Co. Ltd./YUKE’S Future Media Creators and THQ, Inc.; WWF brand © World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.

Soul Calibur III © 2005 Namco Ltd./Namco Bandai Games

All rights reserved.

All images used hail from the following sources:

Cocoron images from Let’s Play Cocoron video series by DeceasedCrab (YouTube)

The Sims cover art from Wikipedia

The Sims images from Let’s Play The Sims video series by AndrewArcade (YouTube)

WWF SmackDown! cover image from GameFAQs.com

Soul Calibur III images from SplitPlaythru: Soul Calibur III (086) How to create Kos-Mos by SplitPlaythru and Harley Quinn in Soul Calibur 3 by SirWilliamAlmasy

All opinions expressed in this article, however, are those of the author himself.

In Relation to My Work: How Would I Reboot the Bloody Roar Series? part 3

Bloody Roar 3 for the PS2

Bloody Roar 3 for the PS2

How’s it going, readers?

In keeping up with my Bloody Roar reboot as posted July 23 and December 12 this past year, I find it only prudent to post this third in the miniseries article (interestingly enough, too, on what we Americans know as Groundhog Day) to describe how I’d reboot the story of the third installment of the BR video game series, Bloody Roar 3. Released in 2001 during the franchise’s peak, BR 3 is the game that many fans consider to be the best in the series overall. However, it is also the game where some of the most damaging elements of the series’ overall story came into play—namely, anything and everything that had a supernatural flavor to it (the “Unborn” and the “Spurious,” the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts, the Stone Seal, etc.). The game was also the first to exhibit traits about the franchise as a whole that I at least personally found to be nothing short of irritating and counterproductive, such as Hudson Soft lazily copying and pasting the roster from the previous game into the next (i.e., BR 2 to BR 3 and BR 3 to BR Extreme/Primal Fury and BR 4) with little attention paid to how each character, new or preexisting, fit in with the rest of the given game’s plot. The latter aspect of this particular trend especially held true in regards to the instances where once-prominent characters within the game’s storyline (e.g., Alice and Busuzima) began to take on less and less prominent roles within the plots of later games in the series while newer additions to the cast—most notably Xion, Ryoho and Mana, and Nagi—became more or less central to those very plots. The purpose of this particular part of the reboot, therefore, will dedicate itself to two trends that will remain active throughout the course of the miniseries from here on out. The first trend will be the reconstitution of the preexisting supernatural elements found throughout the course of the BR games so that they fit more acutely within the light science fiction theme that had been previously established in the first two Bloody Roar titles. The second trend will be a more gradual introduction of each new character into the plot so as to keep them relevant within each story within which they belong without making them overshadow those characters who’d come before them, lest doing so is an absolute necessity. Without further ado, then, on with the reconstruction of Bloody Roar 3!

The XGC, Beast Crests, and the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts

So...how did the Bloody Roar 3 story all begin originally?

So…how did the Bloody Roar 3 story all begin originally?

The original story for Bloody Roar 3 was a relatively simple one and not too much of a diversion from the plot that was established from the first two BR titles…at least at first notice. True, it only made a passing joint reference to both the Tylon Corporation and the Zoanthrope Liberation Front and to the events surrounding each of these nefarious organizations up until their respective downfalls, but it still picked up where BR 2 had left off, more or less, and presented itself well enough to help newcomers to the series understand the plot without requiring too much backstory from the previous two games. To summarize, the whole premise was that after a full year since the fall of the ZLF, the non-profit organization (or “non-government” organization, as it was called in the game) called the World of Coexistence came into power as a coalition whose members, human and zoanthrope alike, pledged to help establish stronger, more peaceful connections between baseline humans and their more genetically blessed/enhanced brethren. Unfortunately, while the WOC has been successful in its initial dealings thus far, concern has soon spread far and wide about the manifestation of what is known as the X-Genome Code—concern that soon escalates into sheer panic as those zoanthropes known to be carriers of the XGC begin dying left and right, regardless of whatever abilities they may have received individually from the Code prior to their respective demises. Sadly, the game never provided a deep explanation on what the XGC really was, although I strongly believe that had Hudson Soft taken the same approach they had with BR 3’s story and implemented a Story Mode that functioned at least similarly—if not, in fact, identically—to the one they’d included in Bloody Roar 2, then hopefully, such wouldn’t have been the case. Unfortunately, they made no such gesture, and many fans—those who cared about the story of BR, leastways, and found themselves caring that much more about each game in the series on account of it—were left to wonder as to just what the Code was. I can’t say I blame any of them, though, for the way that Hudson Soft’s writers portrayed the XGC made it sound almost as if it were a virus that zoanthropes had found themselves the recipients of at random, particularly in the instance of the game’s main characters, most of whom contracted the Code for the sake of plot convenience. In contrast, the very name of the X-Genome Code implied that it was simply a matter of genetic evolution amongst zoanthropekind that some zoanthropes were able to adapt to and make the most of while others weren’t as fortunate. This was the very plot gap that Zeromaster of the River City Gamers had pointed out in his review of BR 3 (See between 1:32 and 5:05 in particular, especially 4:12 to 4:23).

Uriko's Crest from Bloody Roar 3

Uriko’s Crest from Bloody Roar 3

In addition to the X-Genome Code was the notion of each XGC-carrying zoanthrope bearing a Crest (otherwise known to some as a “Mark of the Beast”) on his or her body—a mystic “tattoo” of sorts that roughly resembles the animal into which the wearer can transform and, when activated, provided his or her recipient with power that exceeded his or her natural limits. Often enough, however, unlocking the power within his or her Crest would result in the subject’s death, which naturally—as explained earlier—strikes fear and suspicion into the entire world’s zoanthropic populace. Unfortunately, even the Crest issue wasn’t presented as thoroughly or even as consistently as it could have been, considering that these Crests were never shown on their recipients’ bodies within the game, save for in Busuzima’s case…much to the chagrin of River City Gamer SCXCR, as one can see in his own review of Bloody Roar 3 between 8:33 and 9:38. Apparently, each zoanthrope’s Crest only appears on his or her body when he or she is in beast form, which—as just noted with Busuzima—is inaccurate, considering how Naochika “Caramel Mama” Morishita clearly illustrated Busuzima in the game as bearing his Crest while in human form square on his…*ahem*…“southern hemisphere,” of all places. Furthermore, while actually playing the game, one will notice for oneself that no, being identified as a bearer of a Crest doesn’t automatically make a given zoanthrope stronger than an opponent who either doesn’t or is not known to have a Crest, which further illustrates the lack of consistency in presenting these marks as plot devices within the story. Then again, so does the on-screen appearance of a Crest for certain characters of this latter category when, again, they aren’t supposed to have one, which only further points out the errors of Hudson Soft’s writing for this game. Yes, I completely understand that BR 3 focused more on its action than on its story, but in my eyes, at least, it seems as though the game’s creative team simply threw said story together without bothering themselves to work out all the miscellaneous odds and ends for the sake of coherence.

The Tabula of a Thousand Beasts

The Tabula of a Thousand Beasts

Finally, there’s the matter of the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts, which I’d briefly mentioned in my second installment of this miniseries, but I’ll happily talk about here again, seeing as Bloody Roar 3 was the game where it’d made its debut. To sum things up, the Tabula is, according to the original BR 3, an ancient stone disc that can bestow absolute power to any zoanthrope who chances to bear a Crest and be able to contain its power within his or her own body. Having been sealed away for Heaven knows how long in order to prevent all hell from breaking loose upon it dispersing all its power into its chosen host, the Tabula is also considered to be a prison for the Unborn—an entire race of creatures that, according to theory, either became extinct from Earth as we know it or never had a chance to exist at all and have since merged together into shapeless beings who are in and of themselves everything and nothing all at once. Upon their becoming creatures of pure chaos that exist outside the material realm as we know it, their mission has become simple: to break free from limbo and reconstruct our world in their image, wiping out such recognizable abstracts as love and hate, right and wrong, war and peace, and so forth as well as the laws that govern them in the process of amalgamating everything into one seamless mass of sundered absolutes and consequential nothingness. They have an operative, too, in Xion—the character from the BR saga who made his official debut in this game as well—upon whom they’ve bestowed the supernatural power to transform into a demonic insectoid creature that vaguely resembles a cross between a cockroach and a praying mantis and takes advantage of the blades on its back, wrists, and heels with a rather unique fighting style that is comprised of many a sweeping motion of Xion’s arms and legs. At his core, though, Xion isn’t so much a true villain, as one can determine from each of his endings in all three of the Bloody Roar games he’s in (BR 3, BR Extreme/Primal Fury, and BR 4), but rather a tortured soul who wishes to know about the origins of his powers and his dangerously dual nature while trying desperately to keep his “Jekyll & Hyde complex” under control. Nonetheless, he makes for a solid antagonist in the BR series, even though critics might be quick to dismiss him as being “emo” on account of his chaotic and wildly shifting emotions. Also, even though his origins are strongly supernatural in the original BR 3, by no means will it be impossible to incorporate him into my reboot of the entire Bloody Roar franchise.

Making Sense of It All in My Version of Bloody Roar 3

Long Standing over the unconscious body of his XGC-carrying sister figure Lanfa in his BR 3 story

Long Standing over the unconscious body of his XGC-carrying sister figure Lanfa in his BR 3 story

Okay…now it’s time to reintroducing all of the elements I’ve just now talked about into my own version of Bloody Roar 3. For starters, I’d make the X-Genome Code out to be just as its name implies: another stepping stone along the path of biological evolution that allows zoanthropes to further tap into their bestial natures and become stronger, faster, more durable, and so forth than they otherwise would become upon beastorizing regularly. The code would be activated, too, when the brain is stimulated by the host’s adrenaline in such a way so as to produce even more “Factor B” than usual (as referenced in the first part of this reboot) to interact with a portion of its host’s DNA that would otherwise remain untouched during the regular beastorization process. However, true to the Code’s clandestine nature, its stimulation—while intentionally beneficial to those zoanthropes who possess it—can also kill them on account of its numerous side effects, which include (though are not limited to) muscle spasms, heart failure, hyperventilation and other respiratory problems, stroke, and an exhausted immune system. Some cases have even been known to produce severe mental disorders such as (but, again, not limited to) amnesia, multiple personality disorder, and schizophrenia. This last element would particularly help to characterize Long’s difficulties in coming to terms with his own beast powers by making a reference back to when he’d inadvertently killed his mother and his sister Lin Li prior to the main story of the first BR. Yes, I’m well aware that on July 23, when I’d posted my first installment of this miniseries, I’d made the reference that I wasn’t so sure what it was that had killed these two women. However, after actually researching the mater and taking a closer look at it, I discovered that it was pretty well documented that it was indeed Long who’d caused those two deaths, which he obviously feels much remorse for, considering his brooding nature in the first couple of games in the series. On that note, then, it’d be quite easy to associate his two losses with him being an XGC carrier, even with the two occurrences taking place well before the XGC was as hot a topic as it is in the story of BR 3, seeing as he could have found himself giving in to the Code’s influence back when he was younger and hence killing his two family members during a haphazard beastorization of his. This arc would further add to his motivation to quest for a cure for his new mentor’s daughter Lanfa, who falls ill to complications from her own strand of the Code and reminds him enough of his own sister to make him seek further redemption for the loss of Lin Li by means of said quest.

Because only a sicko would WANT to see Busuzima's "butt Crest."

Because only a sicko would WANT to see Busuzima’s “butt Crest.”

Secondly, rather than have each XGC-bearing zoanthrope receive his or her Crest via the supernatural powers of the Tabula—which, for the record, I would only imply for the sake of adding a sense of mystery to the whole story—I originally planned for it to be so that each Crest would be bestowed upon its bearer as the result of being “branded” by rays emitted from spy satellites that had been created and deployed by zoanthrope-fearing governments during the upheaval that had taken place back in the days of Bloody Roar 2. However, a reader of mine named Dan Kayur was kind enough to leave me some feedback on my original draft of this article and remarked that this initial idea of mine came off as being very forced. Though it’s been a good three years plus since I’d originally posted this article, I did take a moment to look over what I’d written here in the first place, and after reading about my explanation for the Crests, I can see just what he was talking about. As such, I’ve recently decided instead to have the Crests just be a side effect of the XGC—a series of lesions that appear upon the subject’s skin when he or she is in human form (as to remain consistent with the example provided in the original BR 3 with Busizima, as you can see above) and vaguely represent the animal into which the subject can transform. Moreover, these lesions bear a striking resemblance to the engravings that the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts bares, thus convincing certain zoanthropes and baseline humans alike of its legend and urging them to get their hands on it in order to discover the truth, as is the case with Xion. Furthermore, even in the instance in which a zoanthrope’s Crest remains on the subject’s skin after he or she has beastorized, the Crest remains faint and mostly unrecognizable until the bearer’s “Factor B” triggers his or her strand of the Code, which in turn sets the Crest aglow (as well as the rest of the subject’s body, as demonstrated in the game itself) and thus enables the host to utilize the Code’s powers however he or she can within the present situation…albeit for a short period of time.

Stun finds out the truth of the Tabula...the HARD way...

Stun finds out the truth of the Tabula…the HARD way…

Finally, there’s the nature of the Tabula, which, as per my reboot of Bloody Roar 2 and my proposed sub-sequel, Bloody Roar Beast Corps, is actually a substance-draining device that is only based on an ancient artifact and is presently in the hands of the main villains of my version of BR 3. The way it works is simple: The arch-villain mobilizes a cabal of assassins (Xion being one of them, naturally) to hunt down and slay innocent zoanthropes who have been marked with a Crest and collect blood samples from their victims, which they promptly return to their master with and use to fuel the Tabula. The Tabula then reads the XGC-laced DNA of said blood samples, which in turn is distributed into the body of its intended recipient: a potential zoanthropic superweapon a la Uranus. This is more or less how I’d had the Tabula work in BRBC, although I’m loathe to explain who would be the recipient of that version of the Tabula’s harnessed power, for fear of giving away a spoiler to that game’s plot and, in a sense, insulting the intelligence of anyone who’s read the second part of this reboot and can probably guess who that might be.

The Who’s Who in My Version of Bloody Roar 3

Now we move on to whom I’d include in my reboot of Bloody Roar 3. This section should be pretty self-explanatory, seeing as I’ve divided it into two smaller sections, one for those characters who originally participated in the original BR 3 and those whom I’ll be adding to this one. Did your favorite zoanthrope make the final cut? Read on to find out!

Original Characters

Yugo Ogami: From professional boxer to the leader of the World of Coexistence

Yugo Ogami: From professional boxer to the leader of the World of Coexistence

Just like in the original Bloody Roar 3, Yugo has become the leader of the World of Coexistence and is currently in charge of the investigation of the X-Genome Code. Being a carrier of the Code himself only increases the urgency of his investigation for fear that if the XGC “outbreak” gets any worse than it already has, then not only would it cost his own life, but the lives of those he cares about as well. In short, his story stays true to its original form.

What awaits Alice in this reboot of Bloody Roar 3?

What awaits Alice in this reboot of Bloody Roar 3?

Similarly speaking, Alice is continuing her duties at the hospital as a nurse, a job at which she has been working especially long hours at on account of so many XGC-carrying patients being admitted for the symptoms of their complications. One particular patient, however, catches her attention out of all of them: Greg Humain, who has been working overseas in Japan during his own investigation of the XGC crisis. With his symptoms being especially serious, Alice feels herself conflicted between her duties at the hospital and her sudden sense of responsibility towards Yugo and the rest of the WOC in their investigation of the Code’s presence. In the end, she finally makes the decision to join Yugo and company in their search, hoping that she and the others will sure enough discover enough clues that will lead to a correction in what has so far proven to be a particularly lethal stepping stone along the trail of genetic evolution. In short, this story of Alice’s is similar—though admittedly not identical—to the one she had in the original BR 3, although for the sake of making her a more integral part of the storyline of my reboot of Bloody Roar 4, I also plan on introducing Nagi Kirishima from that game into the BR 3 plot as well. To put it simply, Nagi would be a human member of the WOC who happens to be an old family friend of Yugo’s and who, sadly, runs into Xion during the course of the story and ends up becoming one of his victims during his rampage. Additionally, though Alice is chiefly interested in looking into the XGC matter, she can’t help at first but feel suspicious about Nagi as a potential object of Yugo’s affection. However, following Nagi’s fateful run-in with Xion, Alice learns to put her anxieties behind her, focus fully on the matter at hand, and as a result of that, doing her part in putting the villains in their place and an end to the XGC matter. Yes, I know that this is shamefully shoehorning in the whole Yugo-Alice relationship angle and makes Alice more or less come off like Mashiro from Maruyama Tomowo’s obscure two-book BR manga, Bloody Roar: The Fang, but trust me when I say that this whole notion of my doing this is more or less a necessary evil in terms of maintaining Alice’s status as a key player in the BR plot by giving her some character development from which she can benefit in the long run. Also, it would help to explain her rather…ahem…less-than-demure choice of outfit from the original BR 3, the likes of which she had never been known to wear prior to that game, save for maybe her secret schoolgirl outfit from the first BR (as shown here in this YouTube video by animevideogamesfan37).

Gado wants answers to the XGC problem, and he wants them NOW!!

Gado wants answers to the XGC problem, and he wants them NOW!!

Meanwhile, Gado is France’s United Nations commissioner who has built up quite a reputation for himself as an advocate for peaceful relations between zoanthropes and baseline humans. However, even he has been at a loss for answers regarding the XGC threat—that is, of course, until he finds out that he himself is also a carrier of the X-Genome Code. Naturally fearful of what might happen if the XGC matter remains unresolved, yet knowing all too well of his own mortality, he vows to become the first to challenge the fate of zoanthropekind by investigating the matter himself. Needless to say, then, his story remains identical to that which Hudson Soft had given him in the original game.

Long's also ready to take a stand against the forces of evil responsible for the XGC crisis.

Long’s also ready to take a stand against the forces of evil responsible for the XGC crisis.

As for Long, I’ve already made a brief reference to his story earlier in this article, but for the sake of recapping, Long’s story is identical to that which he’d received in the original game, too, save for whatever edits I’d mentioned. Basically, he becomes a wandering scholar following the events of Bloody Roar 2 until he crosses paths with an older martial arts master and stays with him as a live-in student for some time until the old man’s daughter Lanfa falls prey to complications from her own strand of the X-Genome Code, thus spurring Long on his own quest for answers, as discussed earlier.

Kenji "Bakuryu" Ogami: Once again adopting a mantle from his past to see to a brighter future for zoanthropekind

Kenji “Bakuryu” Ogami: Once again adopting a mantle from his past to see to a brighter future for zoanthropekind

Much like with Alice, Kenji’s story will be a little different than what it originally was—not so much in terms of him helping Yugo in his investigation of the XGC concern as a means of paying him back for taking him in and letting him learn to experience the security of a conventional life, but more so in terms of him learning about and discovering a certain thread from his past, which he’d much rather forget about. You see, while doing his part in the WOC’s search for answers, Kenji notices that the corpses of several recently deceased XGC-carrying zoanthropes seem as though the victims had been murdered rather than had died on account of any particular medical complication. In fact, a good portion of them bear slashes and gashes along their bodies that look all too familiar to him—almost as if they’d been killed outright by a fellow mole zoanthrope. As he rearranges the facts of certain XGC cases inside his head, he wonders if he is somehow the killer, seeing as he, too, has been marked with a Crest and seeing as how so many cases concerning “Coded” zoanthropes involve the subject suffering from bouts of amnesia and other mental disorders. Feeling a need to come to terms with his past in his quest to find out that which he needs to know (regardless of whether or not he particularly wants to find them out) for the sake of the safety and prosperity of everyone for whom he cares, Kenji adopts his former alter ego, Bakuryu, and set out on his own, hoping to uncover the truth one way or another.

For those of you who HATED Uriko acting this childish on BR 3, fear not, for she won't be so in this retelling of the story.

For those of you who HATED Uriko acting this childish on BR 3, fear not; she’ll do nothing of the sort in this retelling of the story.

Uriko will also experience an upgrade to her story within my reboot, as there have been complaints about whether she mentally ages in reverse throughout the course of the entire series’ core plot based on how increasingly childish she’s been noted to become following the events of Bloody Roar 2. As mentioned in my first entry in this miniseries, I’d seen to it that Uriko’s father had been a pharmacist prior to his abduction by Tylon at the very beginning of my reboot. Unfortunately, unlike her, he’d never been rescued from the corporation’s clutches. As such, she has learned to live without him, although she can never stop herself from wondering exactly where he is and how he’s faring—assuming, of course, that he’s still alive to begin with. After all, if not for Long having taught her how to fight and joining her in her quest to rescue her mother from the ZLF a mere year earlier, she would technically have been left without a family, save for Alice. As such, Uriko finds herself one day leafing through some old research notes that her father had once made long ago, and oddly enough, they just happen to be about the X-Genome Code. Sure enough, she starts to wonder to herself as to whether or not the notes she’s reading could hold the key to unraveling the XGC mystery, so she sets off to share her findings with Alice, Yugo, and the others in hopes of helping them in their own search for answers.

Jane "Shina" Gado: Contemplating her fate and the collective fate of all other Code-carrying zoanthropes before heading off to battle once more

Jane “Shina” Gado: Contemplating her fate and the collective fate of all other Code-carrying zoanthropes before heading off to battle once more

Next comes Shina, who continues with her career as a mercenary by accepting an invitation to join the “Eye and Claw”/”Klaw and Fang” coalition, whose members have been brought together by the Staff Headquarters of a powerful nation (which, at least to my knowledge, has never been divulged) to locate the source of the XGC “outbreak.” Seeing as she herself has been marked with a Crest, she’s not the slightest bit hesitant, either, in setting out to find such answers. In other words, her story here starts off identically in comparison to how it did in the original BR 3.

Busuzima carries on in his quest for the truth behind the "Ultimate Life Object" while Stun fights for his own survival.

Busuzima carries on in his quest for the truth behind the “Ultimate Life Object” while Stun fights for his own survival.

In the same boat as Shina is Busuzima, whose research in finding/creating the “Ultimate Life Object” has come to a standstill…until, of course, he, too, comes to discover the nature of the X-Genome Code. Wondering as to how he can unlock its power to produce the results he desires, he sets off on his own mission.

Of course, with Busuzima out on the prowl in the name of science, we also have Stun getting into the mix as well, hoping in vain to put an end to the process that is deteriorating his mutated form once and for all. After all, life as a blood-sucking vigilante hasn’t been as kind to him as he would have otherwise liked, what with the sharp drop in his home city’s crime rate and whatnot. Not only that, but as he’s also discovered, he’s yet another carrier of the X-Genome Code, which—though it bestows him with even greater strength than before—nonetheless wreaks havoc with his already unstable form on account of the amount of power that now flows through him. In fact, there have been moments when the sharp pains he feels on account of the Code’s power have driven him out of control mentally, oftentimes sending him into a comatose state. Not wanting to devolve any further into a monster than he already has, the former Dr. Steven Goldberg thus sets off on a mission to find a cure for his ailing form.

Jenny Burtory: Contemplating how she would benefit from attaining the Tabula's power and if she could survive having so much XGC in her body once she does

Jenny Burtory: Contemplating how she would benefit from attaining the Tabula’s power and if she could survive having so much XGC in her body once she does

Jenny is the next Bloody Roar 3 cast member to have her story examined. Originally, her whole deal was that according to her, no zoanthrope other than her and the man responsible for the XGC matter should bear the “Sign of the Beast,” for in the end, only one person can have the power of the Tabula. In other words, she wanted the Tabula’s power all to herself and really couldn’t have cared two cents about all the panic concerning the Code and its victims. Sadly, I felt that this story was so poorly narrated in that it never gave fans (or, at the very least, me) any indication of why she would want to be the sole carrier of the X-Genome Code, save for an apparent lust for its power—especially considering the fact that surely, being a well-informed spy and all, she’d know just how lethal the Code can be to those who carry it. Therefore, I would expand her story in such a way as to incorporate her alleged immortality into the mix, suggesting that she would find it quite interesting to see how the apparent experiments that had resulted in her existence (See Jenny’s section of my second installment of this miniseries for more information on that story arc.) would handle her absorbing a large quantity of genetic material that has proven to be lethal in other zoanthropes. Would she be blessed with the powers that one might expect from so much XGC and in effect become the equivalent of fellow BR alumnus Uranus, or would her long and frustratingly boring life suddenly come to an end on account of even her body not being a strong enough vessel for so much genetically encoded power? There’s only one way to find out, as far as she’d be concerned…although to be fair to the original plot, I’d leave in the whole aspect of her being hired by outside forces (i.e., “Sinclair” from her original ending) to retrieve the tabula for them to research.

Shenlong, back from the dead and prepared for yet another bloodbath...albeit at the request of those who'd brought him back to life. What a drag...

Shenlong, back from the dead and prepared for yet another bloodbath…albeit at the request of those who’d brought him back to life. What a drag…

Additionally, though he’d presumably taken his own life at the end of Bloody Roar 2, Shenlong is, believe it or not, back to dish out some more damage in this story. Having been reproduced within a secret laboratory by the true villain behind the XGC scare, Shenlong has absolutely no memory of the events from BR 2. In fact, as far as he’s concerned, the ZLF is naught but hearsay, and he’s never even met his original creator, Dr. Hajime Busuzima, much less hold any particular grudge against him for using him as a puppet to distract the heroes of BR 2 from his experiments. Then again, neither has he met Long, the very man from whom he was cloned. All he really knows is the present, meaning the fact that he’s now been recruited to retrieve the XGC-laced blood of several zoanthrope targets to fuel his new creator’s own experiment. No longer the rebellious loner with a mean streak that he was in the original BR 3, Shenlong—while yet again a pawn in another man’s game—nonetheless retains not only the cruel pride that had made him such a beloved villain in BR 2, but also a copy of the strand of XGC that flows through Long’s veins, which only further adds to his whole preoccupation with the current moment and dismissal of the future, as was the case in the original BR 3. Only time will tell, however, when he has finally had enough of being pushed around by his current employer and strikes back, thus leading to him heading down his own path.

So...who IS Xion, anyway?

So…who IS Xion, anyway?

Xion is up next, and while I have made reference to him earlier in this article, it’ll be here where I fully disclose his backstory as I would rewrite it. To put it simply, the whole matter of him being a vessel for a formless, “Legion”-esque supernatural creature would be exchanged for a more science fiction-based origin. To be more specific, Xion will be yet another Tylon test subject whose body has been used in an experiment known as “Project Unborn,” where the corporation’s scientists have been trying to more or less create the ultimate genetic weapon. Xion in particular has been the recipient of experiments similar in nature to those that Busuzima had once conducted on his former colleague Steven Goldberg. The difference between the two ordeals, though, concerns the manipulation of each subject’s DNA, which was what resulted in Dr. Goldberg’s mutation into Stun. Thankfully for Xion, then, his DNA had only been slightly tampered with prior to having his brain stimulated to produce “Factor B,” thus enabling him to transform into the part-mantis, part-cockroach creature better known by Bloody Roar fans as the Unborn. The brainwashing procedure he undergoes as part of his artificial evolution is relatively unique, too, in that it isn’t simple hypnosis where he is constantly under his manipulators’ control, albeit for a short period of time; rather, he has lapses where sometimes he’s fully in control of what he’s doing and other times he’s little more than a puppet of whoever’s pulling his strings. This helps to explain his Jekyll/Hyde nature, which is in many respects akin to the traditional mental pattern that most people have come to associate with werebeasts, specifically the werebeasts that were under the control of Hashiba in Bloody Roar: The Fang. In fact, I can even take this portion of Xion’s story one step further by making his unique brain patterns a byproduct of both Tylon’s brainwashing and the pre-experimental depression he experiences after his sister—a canine zoanthrope, according to TVWiki.tv—dies on account of her own complications from the XGC in her DNA. Yes, this would rule out Xion’s original desire to start the world over for the Unborn’s sake and completely dismiss the theory that Uranus is his alleged sister. However, as mentioned before, my proposed reboot would wipe out the original concept for the Unborn anyway, and as anyone who has played as Xion in the official BR 3 would notice in Arcade mode, his sister is already lying on the ground at his feet in the very first panel of his adventure, making the sibling connection between Xion and Uranus impossible.

Kohryu vs. Uranus: Find out who belongs more in this reboot of BR 3 and why.

Kohryu vs. Uranus: Find out who belongs more in this reboot of BR 3 and why.

Finally, we have Kohryu, whose backstory remains the same as it was presented in the original Bloody Roar 3 (i.e., a product of Yun Chi Manufacturing, Inc. which was once part of Tylon and is still active even after Tylon’s demise), only this time he’ll be more than just an Easter egg character. Rather, he has a full-fledged role in this reboot—namely, that of one of the assassins currently involved in collecting XGC-laced DNA for the Tabula. Needless to say, he’s the one whose claw marks Kenji notices on many of the XGC victims’ corpses he comes across, and it will be he whom Kenji, as Bakuryu, needs to defeat in order to clear his name. Will the feud between the current Bakuryu and the mechanized “ghost” of his grandfather figure, the original Bakuryu Kato Ryuzo, carry on beyond this installment of my rebooted BR series? I’m afraid you’ll all have to wait and see, unfortunately.

Sorry, Uranus. Better luck next time...but hey, don't worry; there's always Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury.

Sorry, Uranus. Better luck next time…but hey, don’t worry; there’s always Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury.

Now, for those of you who are wondering where Uranus is in this reboot…well…I’ll put it to you like this: She’s absent here and won’t be inserted into the Bloody Roar story until my reboot of BR Extreme/Primal Fury. It is my belief that she’ll fit in more accurately with BR E/PF’s plot, what with the whole notion of secret experiments taking place behind the scenes of the Kingdom of Zoanthropes and the whole fighting tournament they’re hosting. It will be in this later installment that she will serve as the ultimate weapon of the KoZ as well as a key element in identifying the party responsible for founding the Kingdom in the first place, which should come as no surprise to folks who are up on their BR history. Besides, I don’t want to thicken the overall plot too much in this chapter of the BR saga and leave other installments of this reboot completely empty, as doing so would be sloppy storytelling on my part. Therefore, for those of you who might be wondering just who shall receive the power stored within the Tabula to serve as the ultimate obstacle for the heroes, stick around and read the next section to find out for yourselves.

Additional Characters

Mitsuko Nonomura: Fighting mad that she was left out of BR 3 and ready to get revenge in this reboot

Mitsuko Nonomura: Fighting mad that she was left out of BR 3 and ready to get revenge in this reboot

Mitsuko, at least in my opinion, definitely has a place in Bloody Roar 3’s story as a playable character, what with how protective she is of her two daughters, Uriko and Alice. Needless to say, her motivation for taking part in this installment is to find Uriko, who has left home on account of wanting to track down Alice and Yugo in hopes of sharing with them the information she has discovered about the X-Genome Code from her father’s notes. To add to this, Mitsuko is a carrier of the Code herself, and though she struggles to keep her complications under control during her search, she nonetheless finds her symptoms acting up on her and getting in the way of her mission to once again reunite her family. Will she manage to survive her condition, or will her strand of the XGC get to her in the end before she has the chance of bringing Uriko home? Only time will tell…

Hans Taubemann: From pit fighter extraordinaire to Tylon assassin to vengeance-seeking bodyguard in this retelling of BR 3

Hans Taubemann: From pit fighter extraordinaire to Tylon assassin to vengeance-seeking bodyguard in this retelling of BR 3

Secondly, Hans will be making a comeback as well. His story will be pretty simple, too, in that following the events of my reboot of Bloody Roar 2, he takes on a new career and becomes a bodyguard in an effort to teach himself the value of caring for others and as such move on from his seedy past as a pit fighter and an assassin. Sadly, in a rather tragic turn of events, his most recent benefactor—an ambassador for the United Nations who, like Gado, happens to be a fellow zoanthrope of his—ends up succumbing to the complications of his own strand of the X-Genome Code and suffers a mental breakdown of sorts, thus leading to a horrible death that he suffers at his own hands. At first, Hans blames himself for essentially failing to save the man from himself, but it is upon learning further details about the mental illnesses that the ambassador was suffering prior to his suicide that he becomes all the more alarmed about the XGC threat, what with his own psychological history. The fact that he, too, is an XGC carrier only makes him worry all the more that he might become the next victim of the Code’s complications. Therefore, he, too, sets off to find out how he can correct the mess that the XGC has been causing and soon finds himself caught up in a plot that seems all too familiar to him somehow.

I’d also reintroduce Annette from BRBC as a playable character in an effort to seal the continuity gap between Bloody Roar Beast Corps and this alternate version of BR 3. Her objective is just as straightforward as most of the other characters’ in that she, too, wants to find out more about the X-Genome Code in hopes of helping her father Rupert, whose complications have stricken him in a manner similar to Greg and Lanfa’s present cases. Not only that, but many members of her father’s animal rights activist group have also contracted the Code and, worse yet, have fallen prey to the murderous wrath of Kohryu, thus giving Annette an additional reason to find out the truth behind the madness and putting her at odds with Kenji/Bakuryu upon their initial meeting on account of her suspicion that he might be the one responsible for her fellow activists’ deaths. The question remains, though, as to whether or not she’ll be ready for what awaits her when she finds out the truth behind her coworkers’ untimely collective demise.

Dr. Herman Maxwell: Contemplating a return to action as an active player in the rebooted Bloody Roar 3 story

Dr. Herman Maxwell: Contemplating a return to action as an active player in the rebooted Bloody Roar 3 story

Another character from Bloody Roar Beast Corps whom I’d bring back for BR 3 would be Dr. Herman Maxwell, who—though he would have been “silenced” towards the end of BRBC—would be brought back to life in a manner not much unlike Shenlong and conscripted to serve the villains responsible for the XGC scare as an assassin. He’s even been brainwashed to ensure that he will be fully subordinate to his recruiters, although the chances of him breaking free from his brainwashing will still exist to the same degree that they did for Kenji/Bakuryu back in BR 2. The question thus remains as to whether or not Maxwell will indeed be able to do just that, especially with the likes of Annette and his former subordinate Stun in on the action, and—more importantly—what will happen with him once he is able to overcome his hypnosis.

Reiji Takigawa: An underrated Bloody Roar villain who will get his time to shine in this retelling of BR 3

Reiji Takigawa: An underrated Bloody Roar villain who will get his time to shine in this retelling of BR 3

Additionally, I believe that my reboot of Bloody Roar 3 will be a good a time as any to introduce BR 4 character Reiji Takigawa into the mix. His backstory won’t be changed too much, either, save for me making a minor tweak here or there to make him fit more closely to my particular story. Basically, his family will still belong to a small clan of Japanese civilians who secretly belong the Yatagarasu, a clan of mountain-dwelling fighting monks who regard zoanthropy as a sacred blessing and who only share the secrets of this power with their own kind and only when a given individual is considered a worthy adult. However, for the sake of consistency with the whole science fiction theme of this reboot, I’ll be reserving the whole “Stone Seal” motif of BR 4 as a strictly symbolic of the bestowment of this power or, rather, the permission of a given clan member to manifest his or her inherent zoanthropic abilities and be regarded as an adult by the rest of the Yatagarasu. Also of note is the significance of this practice as it relates to the story in BR 3, which involves Reiji being a recipient of the XGC himself. It is his discovery that awakens the ambitious yet destructive tendencies that he has long held deep within himself and gives him reason to prematurely awaken his inner beast, kill his father—who has long warned him about the dangers of not controlling his zoanthropy and instead letting it control him—and flee the Yatagarasu temple in search of powerful opponents on whom to test his newly discovered power. Needless to say, not only does he have the rest of the Yatagarasu on his tail (no pun intended), but he also becomes recruited by the true villains behind the XGC mystery and serves them as an assassin alongside Xion, Kohryu, Shenlong, and Maxwell. Likewise, I would also include in my BR 3 reboot a storyline between Reiji and Kenji/Bakuryu that involves Reiji’s ex-compatriots and current pursuers having once feuded with Kenji’s former ninja clan for reasons that have become long forgotten over time by all but a small handful of people. Reiji will happen to be one of these people, which will help to explain his murderous tendencies, and in a similar fashion, it would be this feud that had once prompted Kato, the original Bakuryu, to become the most powerful zoanthrope of all during the course of BR 1. Granted, this feud will only be touched upon in small doses within this particular chapter of my BR reboot—particularly when the current Bakuryu, Kenji, crosses paths with Reiji—but as my reboot advances with each new installment, I’ll be sure to expand upon it, significance, history, and all, so as to solidify the inclusion of this underrated Bloody Roar villain within the franchise.

Next comes yet another original character of mine, Mei Lin Tsang, a viper zoanthrope bounty hunter who has been hired by Yun Chi Manufacturing, Inc. to retrieve Kohryu before his reign of destruction becomes even more widely known than it already has and draws more attention to Yun Chi’s experiments in robotics. A former Tylon assassin herself from the days of BR 1, Mei Lin is all too aware of Yun Chi’s ties to Tylon and has long been trying to let go of the memories she has of serving the corrupt organization. All the same, her present financial situation gives her reason enough to accept the assignment, as does her own battle with the X-Genome Code and the complications she’s suffering on account of the strand of it she herself possesses, seeing as how all of Kohryu’s victims were once possessors of the XGC themselves. What will occur, though, once she realizes just who has been behind (or, at the very least, played a part in) Kohryu’s murder spree? That my friends, would be up to the gamer to realize upon playing the game.

Trust me, folks--including Nagi in this retelling of Bloody Roar 3, no matter how much BR 4's detractors hate her, only makes more sense than simply disposing her altogether.

Trust me, folks–including Nagi in this retelling of Bloody Roar 3, no matter how much BR 4’s detractors hate her, only makes more sense than simply disposing her altogether.

Finally, we come to Nagi, and yes, I know that I said I would write the story so as to make Nagi one of Xion’s victims as per the original BR story. However, her being spared by “Gaia” and acquiring her powers by having the hypothetical goddess copy Xion’s powers and bestowing the results unto her would be much too far-fetched for my reboot. Rather, I would rewrite matters so as to give Xion the ability to “infect” her with a venom that would secrete from his claws and enter her bloodstream upon him slicing her, which would work in a fashion similar to how mosquitoes infect larger organisms with diseases such as West Nile virus, Zika fever, malaria, chikungunya, dengue, filiariasis, yellow fever, and various forms of encephalitis. This venom would then provide Nagi with a limited form of zoanthropy in which she could mimic Xion’s “Unborn” beast powers, albeit to a limited degree and while under a form of mind control that makes her loyal to him in a fashion similar to how certain “lesser” vampires are loyal to the more powerful vampire who sucked their blood when they were mortal. From that point, Nagi would serve as yet another assassin for the plot’s archvillain, and it would be up to Yugo and company to bring her back to her senses in their attempt to bring the organization as a whole down. This turn of events also helps to maintain her segue into my reboot of Bloody Roar 4, although I can’t say that she’ll automatically be reintroduced into the reboot come BR Extreme/Primal Fury.

Bloody Roar Beast Corps 2: Characters and Plot

As was the case with my BR 2 reboot, I’ll be having a B-plot to my BR 3 reboot by including a scenario for the Bloody Roar Beast Corps. After all, with something as serious as the XGC incident going on as well as rumors spreading left and right about the existence of the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts, you know all too well that the WOC will have its hands full and can do with some backup in setting things straight. The storyline for Bloody Roar Beast Corps 2 is a relatively simple one, too, in that it sees our original four heroes from the first game—Paul, Sonja, Mireille, and Yao—deployed to contain an outbreak of XGC-carrying zoanthropes who have fallen prey to its psychological effects and as such are rampaging across the globe. Additionally, there is a growing number of XGC-related deaths taking place that the team ends up investigating, thus leading them into a plot that crosses over with the same leader of the assassination ring from my rebooted version of BR 3. Thankfully, however, these four mercenaries have allies who will gladly lend them the hand they need to put these murderers in their place.

One such ally is Nathan Humain, the son of BR veteran Greg Humain. As explained before, Greg might be out of commission for the time being on account of the complications he’s suffering from his strand of the Code, but his son will thankfully be involved here as a replacement. In a nutshell, Nathan—whose beast form is that of an orangutan—used to spend his time teaching capoeira at the local youth center in his hometown until just recently when his father fell prey to the XGC’s influence. Since then, however, he’s been filling in his father’s shoes and carrying out his investigation of the XGC case with the help of another new character named Akakios, a self-professed scholar in archaeology who uses his knowledge of the Tabula to help Nathan in his search for answers. During the course of his investigation, though, he and Akakios become separated from one another, and it is while searching for him that Nathan happens to cross paths with the Beast Corps, whom he ends up explaining his story to and allying himself with in an effort to track down Akakios and those whom he believe have abducted him.

Two additional characters I would include to this installment are BR: The Fang’s Yuuga “Fang” Tsukigami and Mashiro Toba. Throughout the course of the manga, Fang and Mashiro find themselves engaged in many misadventures centered around fellow zoanthropes, noble and wicked alike, and even though the manga makes no reference at all to the XGC, who’s to say that they can’t find themselves caught up in such a plot? After all, the arch-villain of the manga, Hashima, just happens to be one of Tylon’s scientists, which should be enough of a tie to the original BR universe to merit their inclusion. Not only that, but Fang uses a pair of gloves called the “Wolfgang Silver” to knock hostile zoanthropes back into human form, and the latter half of the series sees him and Mashiro venturing forth to search for the remnant body parts of a dark beast of legend named Oagito no Magami. That being said, artifacts of zoanthrope mythology are far from foreign material to them, which means that the inclusion of the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts wouldn’t be that farfetched an idea. Granted, such a thing might compromise the narration of the manga, but then again, a bonus chapter to the manga does exist in the form of a short bonus comic from the Bloody Roar Extreme V-Jump Book, as explained by SCXCR in his discussion of Bloody Roar: The Fang from 2013. It is in this comic that Fang and Mashiro head off to the Kingdom of Zoanthropes from Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury and come across Yugo, Prince Cronos, and Ganesha—proof enough to show that it is possible for the characters of both BR continuities to coexist, no matter how awkward such coexistence may be. Regardless, giving this duo a chance to join in on the action and help Nathan and the Beast Corps put an end to the whole mess would definitely give them both some much-needed longevity as BR characters.

Finally, there’s the true arch-villain of BRBC 2: Akakios Stavros, the archaeologist who had been helping Nathan in his investigation into the whole XGC/Tabula prior to his disappearance. A former apprentice to Zacharia Faust from the first BRBC game, Stavros plots on continuing Zacharia’s research with the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts in hopes of creating the ultimate zoanthrope killing machine and is only “aiding” Nathan in his investigation until he can conveniently ditch him and leave him at the mercy of his minions. He manages to successfully complete his task, too, by using Nagi’s body as a host for the blood of the XGC-ridden zoanthropes whom he’s had his assassins dispatch, then employing her to fend off anyone who might try to put an end to whatever other mad scheme he plans on executing afterwards. Then again, despite his success in evading Yugo, Long, Shina, and all the other heroes of my reboot of BR 3, he unfortunately runs head-first into the BRBC and their allies, who’ve already dispatched of a number of his henchmen and end up standing toe-to-toe against him. Luckily for him, he does have a few tricks up his sleeve to ensure that his fight against them will be a rather challenging one, such as an oh-so convenient martial arts background and whatever XCG-laced DNA remains inside the Tabula after his experiment on Nagi for his own benefit.

BR3 Reboot Title

And there you have it, folks—my reboot of Bloody Roar 3. I hope everyone who’s been following this series has been enjoying it so far, and in case you’re wondering if I’ll be introducing a second part of the Bloody Roar Beast Corps plot into the mix to take place between BR 3 and BR E/PF, I’ll say this: I hope to. Quite frankly, I wanted to include one in this article, but considering how long it is already…yeah, enough said. I do, however, plan on releasing an article in this miniseries discussing how I’d reboot Bloody Roar Extreme/Primal Fury as well as the much-despised Bloody Roar 4. Any suggestions you folks might have for a reboot of either of those games will be welcome, as will be any and all constructive criticisms you might have for any of the three reboot articles I’ve already written. Bloody Roar: The Fang, however, is a whole other topic, seeing as that story is of a completely different continuity from the default BR franchise. Then again, I will again mention that if you’re interested in learning more about that, please visit SCXCR’s discussion of it on the River City Gamers’ WordPress page here. Aside from all that, though, please stick around for the remaining two future installments to this miniseries, and thank you all for reading. Also, be sure to check out my author page at Smashwords.com and my Author Central pages at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and to stop by for future installments in my “In Relation to My Work” segment at later dates. Until next time, then, happy reading!

Regards,

Dustin M. Weber

*****

PS: For the sake of convenience, here are the links to the other parts of this miniseries:

Part 1: July 23, 2012

Part 2: December 12, 2012

Part 4: February 7, 2015

Part 5: August 23, 2015

*****

Bloody Roar (c) 1997-2012 Hudson Soft Co., Ltd./2012-2013 Konami Digital Entertainment. All visuals used in this article hail from the following sources:

Bloody Roar 3 story intros and outros (and Bloody Roar 2 Stories – Stun) as posted by LightningBS of YouTube

The Bloody Roar Retrospective: Bloody Roar 3 by SCXCR of the River City Gamers (RiverCityGamers.wordpress.com)

Bloody Roar 3 Game Sample – Playstation 2 by Vysethedetermined2 of YouTube

BloodyRoar.Wikia.com

Fenixware.com Fight-a-Base

GameFAQs.com (Bloody Roar 3 cover)

(MAX) Bloody Roar 3 Kohryu Acrade Mode Part 2 by Shenlong 919 of YouTube

All opinions expressed within the above article, however, are solely those of the author.

In Relation to My Work: How Would I Reboot the Bloody Roar Series? part 2

Bloody Roar 2 for the PSX:The next game in the BR series to be covered in this reboot of the franchise

Bloody Roar 2 for the PSX:
The next game in the BR series to be covered in this reboot of the franchise

Happy Holidays, readers!

I know it’s been a while, but after taking care of more pressing matters, I now have the time to once again tackle the Bloody Roar franchise and address how I’d reboot it, had I only the legal rights to do so. From what you may or may not recall from my first post in this miniseries on July 23, which you are free to read at your leisure for the sake of catching up on the discussion, I’ve already covered the first Bloody Roar game, which I’ve edited based on the feedback I’ve received since my initial posting of the article. Naturally, then, comes my reboot of the second installment of the BR series, Bloody Roar 2, which is subtitled either The New Breed or Bringer of the New Age, depending on where you’re from (USA versus Japan/Europe). In this reboot, I’ll be reintroducing the “lost” characters from the first Bloody Roar game (i.e., Mitsuko, Hans, and Greg) in such a way so that they’ll fit within the rest of the BR saga as well as throwing new characters into the mix in addition to the heroes and villains from the original roster.  I also hope to introduce a subplot that, while it might not fit directly within the BR 2 story as fans have come to know it, will nonetheless cover an aspect of the game’s setting that said story wasn’t able to cover. At any rate, any and all BR fans who chance to read this article are free to leave feedback, including any and all constructive criticisms they may have with this reboot. Without further ado, then, let’s dive in.

The Story as a Whole

Five years after the fall of the infamous international conglomerate known as the Tylon Corporation and the exposure of their zoanthrope experimentation, the whole world now knows full well the existence of zoanthropekind, and as is true with the humans in the world of Marvel Comics’ very own X-Men comic book series in reaction to the existence of Homo sapiens superior (i.e., “mutants”), the “base stock” humans within the world of the Bloody Roar saga feel threatened. Needless to say, hostilities arise between them and this strange and powerful subspecies of their own race to the point where certain humans end up banding together to stage “beast hunts” in an effort to drive zoanthropekind into extinction. To counteract their efforts, however, is the Zoanthrope Liberation Front, an organization of zoanthropes whose members claim to support their fellow “beasts” in their struggle against human intolerance. Then again, the ZLF’s terrorist tactics have soon awakened the suspicion of zoanthropes and humans worldwide, and rumors soon spread about them kidnapping fellow zoanthropes who refuse to join them in their cause and hold them for ransom. As such, many a zoanthrope learns to distrust the ZLF every bit as much as they despise the beast hunters for their cruel actions against their kind, thus forging a “triangle of hate” (as it is referred to in the second part of SCXCR’s Bloody Roar Retrospective) between the three factions that is currently rocking the world to its very foundation. Such was the basis of the original BR 2, and such will remain the case for this reboot.

As mentioned before, the first part of this reboot will be covering the reboot of the actual BR 2 game and focus more on the struggle between the characters we’ve all come to know and love (Yugo, Alice, Long, etc.) and the Zoanthrope Liberation Front. The second part, on the other hand, will cover the humans versus zoanthropes aspect of this story, which will be explored in a story entitled Bloody Roar Beast Corps that—if it were to ever be translated into video game format—would more likely than not manifest as a classic beat ‘em up rather than as a fighting game like the rest of the games in the BR franchise. Likewise, in order to make BRBC cannon to the rest of the BR saga, there will be a connection between it and my reboot of Bloody Roar 3. What that connection will be, however, will be up for you BR fans out there to determine at the very end of the article. For right now, though, let’s take a closer look at the who’s who in BR 2.

The Heroes and Heels of Bloody Roar 2

First off, the cast of characters in this reboot of Bloody Roar 2 will be divided into two separate groups. The first of these two groups I’ll be labeling the “Initial Eight” on account of their being the primary eight characters who, in the instance that this reboot were ever translated into an actual video game, would be the eight characters that would be playable right off the bat. In a nut shell, they’re the chief protagonists of the story, each having his or her reason to venture out and thwart the ZLF, which will be explained in greater detail for each character later on in this section. The second group, however, which I’ll be labeling the “Unlockable Eight,” consists of characters who are either actual or alleged villains within the story’s plot or are at the very least under the control of the actual villains. Naturally, then, we’ll start off with the Initial Eight and work our way from there.

Yugo the Wolf

Yugo the Wolf

The Initial Eight

To begin with, immediately after doing his part to bring down Tylon and promising his murdered father that he’ll do whatever it takes to avenge his death and seek justice for his fellow zoanthropes, Yugo manages to discover a young boy amidst the ruins of Tylon’s South American laboratory. Though unsuccessful to get an answer out of the boy concerning who he is, where he came from, or anything of the sort, Yugo nonetheless adopts him as a kid brother, naming him “Kenji” in the process, and tries to live a peaceful life with him from that day forward. He manages to do that for the next five years, too, as he enters the world of professional boxing to earn a living for himself and Kenji until one fateful evening when he’s suddenly ambushed on his way home from the arena with Kenji in tow. Next thing he knows, he gets knocked down, and Kenji is abducted by the assailant, thus leaving Yugo to regain his second wind and chase after the kidnapper in hopes of bringing Kenji back home. Such is pretty much the story that Hudson Soft had originally written for Yugo, although I’d personally make one small change—that being the identity of Yugo’s attacker, which I’ll uncover later in this article.

Alice the Rabbit

Alice the Rabbit

Next comes the story of Alice, which also pretty much remains the same in comparison to how it had originally been written. Basically, Alice has lived with her foster family, the Nonomuras, for the past five years and is presently working at her local hospital as a nurse after graduating high school. One night, however, after having spent plenty of time at the hospital already, she receives word of an emergency arrival which just happens to be Yugo, whom she remembers crossing paths with half a decade ago during the events from the first Bloody Roar. Yugo, however, isn’t one to shoot the breeze with his old acquaintance and very quickly bolts out of the hospital to carry out his mission in rescuing Kenji. For a while, Alice stands there perplexed, not knowing what to think until the idea pops into her head to follow him into the thick of danger. Now, granted, while this story does set up the beginning of Alice and Yugo’s relationship as friends, it completely ignores Alice’s kinship with her foster family, save for the part in Alice’s story from the original BR 2’s Story Mode where Alice and Uriko bump into each other (See the following YouTube video by LightningBS from 3:09 to 4:01.). Therefore, I’d illustrate how reluctant Alice is in joining in the struggle against the ZLF, preferring instead to focus on her duties as a nurse while Uriko has Long accompany her in her mission to save their mother…at least up until Yugo comes into the picture and she soon finds herself in the thick of things anyhow. As a result of this series of circumstances, Alice soon comes to learn an important lesson: The only way for evil to truly win any conflict is if the good people of the world—be they of baseline or zoanthropic stock—do nothing. I’d also be sure to have the two sisters cross paths during the course of their respective missions and join forces to rescue their mother from the ZLF’s clutches with Long in tow, thus making their forces three zoanthropes strong as they finally come upon the Front’s headquarters.

Long the Tiger

Long the Tiger

The story of Long isn’t too much different from how it was in the original BR 2, either, save for the idea of an only vaguely familiar Japanese schoolgirl in Uriko being able to find him in his remote mountain hideaway in China simply because some mysterious bat-lady (i.e., Jenny) told her where to find him and missing school all the while without any word of her principal allowing her leave of absence on account of her mother’s abduction by an international terrorist cabal. Sorry to nitpick, readers, but even in a science fiction setting surrounding itself around human beings with the ability to transform into human-animal hybrids, there has to be some sense of logic. Therefore, I’d have Greg be the one to locate and get in touch with Long and enlist him in training Uriko in kenpo upon having her hire him to help in finding her missing mother. After all, I did mention in my first installment of this miniseries that I’d turn Greg into an international detective, and who else better to discover the whereabouts of a former corporate assassin turned monk who’s chosen to distance himself from humanity than a detective? At any rate, Greg manages to coax Long out of hiding by informing him all about his clone Shenlong and his apparent leadership of the ZLF, promising Long that if he were to take down Shenlong and the rest of the ZLF, he’d manage to heal at least a small part of his sundered soul. Of course, being able to train Uriko in the martial arts so as to help her in her quest to rescue her mother would certainly do wonders in that department as well. It’s on that note, then, that Long agrees and takes that crucial first step in redeeming himself for all the misdeeds he’d been responsible for while working for Tylon.

Uriko the Cat(or Half-Beast, as she was known in the original BR 2)

Uriko the Cat
(or Half-Beast, as she was known in the original BR 2)

Speaking of Uriko, she’s next on the list of characters we’ll cover under this heading. Having overcome the effects of the experiments performed on her while a captive of Tylon five years ago, she seems to be living just as normal a life as any other girl her age, going to school, spending time with her family (including her foster sister Alice), and the like. Then again, she does have the responsibility of having to hide her zoanthropy from the rest of the world…until, of course, her mother is abducted by the ZLF right before her eyes. Quickly, then, does she beastorize, but because she no longer has the synthetic grownup body that Tylon had given her to absorb the amount of “Factor B” that her brain now produces (twice as much as the average zoanthrope, as mentioned in the first installment of this discussion), she can only transform halfway into the form she is better known for—namely, that of a bobcat. Of course, the fact that she hasn’t beastorized during the course of the five years between her rescue from Tylon’s lab and her mother’s abduction doesn’t help maters, either, but regardless, the fact still stand that Uriko’s body only allows her to transform into a form that is far less powerful that what she’s used to, and as such, she desperately needs to learn how to fight properly. Therefore…

Greg the Gorila

Greg the Gorilla

…enter our old friend Greg, who had been excluded from the series entirely following the first Bloody Roar, yet is back with a vengeance here in this reboot. At this point in the saga, Greg already has his hands full with this ZLF business, what with how many missing persons cases he’s taken on as of late. Thankfully, they all have one distinct connection: They’ve all been perpetrated by the same man—a dark, brooding fellow with cruel eyes and enough martial arts expertise to put any five to ten randomly chosen action stars to shame. Not only that, but the man suspiciously resembles an individual whom Greg had crossed paths with during his last major case five years prior in South America. However, when he is suddenly given a case to recover one Mrs. Mitsuko Nonomura from the clutches of the ZLF at the same time he gets a hunch concerning the whereabouts of one Mr. Long Shin, he decides to kill two birds with one stone and recruit Long to help train the anxious yet ill-prepared Uriko in the art of kenpo so that she’ll be better prepared in her quest to rescue her mother. Greg himself, in the meantime, has plenty else to take care of once the two of them head off to complete their objective, such as discover the whereabouts of all the other abductees he’s been hired by various other clients to track down and bring their kidnapper to justice.

Hans the Fox

Hans the Fox

Next we’ll discuss the role of Hans in this installment of the BR story. At the end of the first installment in the Bloody Roar narrative, this crazed pitfighter-turned-assassin finally breaks free from the mind control placed upon him by his Tylon “recruiters,” but not before killing his own mother while under the influence. The grief is too much for him to bear, and he ends up screaming into the dead of the night to the point where the foreign object that had been implanted into his brain—an electromagnetic node that had been the source of the psychotic behavior that he’d displayed throughout the course of the first story—shuts his brain down and makes him collapse on the spot. Tylon scientists then place him within a cryogenic deep freeze, where he is kept for five years until he awakens one day within the secret laboratory of former Tylon scientist extraordinaire Dr. Hajime Busuzima, the puppet master of the ZLF. Once he notices Hans awaken from his half-decade-long slumber, Busuzima informs the ex-assassin of his plans for world domination and attempts to employ him as a ZLF hit man. Hans wants none of it, of course, and fights his way out of Busuzima’s lab, only to be left on his own and against the odds with reminders of his former life flashing before his eyes with every passing breath, from the familiar faces he comes across to situations similar in nature to those he’d come to endure five years ago. The question as such remains as to whether Hans’s fighting spirit will help him prevail in maintaining whatever is left of his insanity or crumble under pressure, thus permitting him to cave in to his psychoses and revert back to the sick, twisted, remorseless killer he once was.

Stun the Beetle:The world's first ever insect zoanthrope

Stun the Beetle:
The world’s first ever insect zoanthrope

Stun will also be making a comeback to the BR 2 story after having spent the past five years in hiding from the world and waiting to die as his unstable, genetically altered body wastes away, forever brooding about what his former colleague Busuzima had done to him. Such would be the case, of course, if not for BR 1 hero Alain Gadou managing to find him one day and more or less give him the same kind of tongue-lashing that he had in the original BR 2  for his “cowardice” and “self-pity” (See the following YouTube video by LightningBS from 1:59 to 3:02.). It is this very scolding that riles Stun up to the point where he thrashes Gado for his insolent comments, then storms off to take the rest of his newly incited rage out on any and every zoanthrope he meets along the way until at long last, Gado’s hired informant Jenny steers him in the right direction towards ZLF HQ, where he finally gets his revenge on Busuzima…at least as far as BR 2’s plot is concerned. In short, as was the case with Yugo, Stun’s new story wouldn’t be any different from how it had originally gone in the original BR 2, save for a few new fights along the way, considering this reboot’s extended roster.

Shina the Leopard

Shina the Leopard

Finally, we have the only member of the “Initial Eight” to have not appeared in the Bloody Roar story until BR 2, Jeanne Gadou (a.k.a. Jane Gado), better known to Bloody Roar fans as Shina (or Marvel, for those of you familiar with the Japanese version of the game). Now, I know full well that Shina has been documented by the Bloody Roar Wikia, the wiki at BLOODYROARHQ, and even Fenixware.net as being the adopted daughter of Alan Gado. However, I will say this: River City Gamer and fellow Bloody Roar enthusiast SCXCR isn’t the only one who’s taken note of the fact that Shina and Alan have similar physical appearances (complexion, hair color, hair style, etc.) on top of them both being zoanthropes who share the same fighting style, last name, and nationality. Feel free to check out the second chapter of SCXCR’s Bloody Roar Retrospective, the link to which I’ve posted earlier in this article, between the 16:18 and 16:35 minute marks whenever any of you have the time and take note of this discovery yourselves. Regardless, the rest of Shina’s story will remain unchanged without question. In other words, she still takes after her father in terms of being a ferociously competent mercenary, even at the tender age of thirteen when she defeats an entire platoon of enemy soldiers by herself and hence earns the nickname “Fighting Marvel” from her father’s comrades. Additionally, Gado still insists that Shina lead an ordinary life rather than follow in his footsteps, which is advice that she ignores wholeheartedly by becoming a mercenary anyhow after graduating high school. Most importantly, however, is the fact that her father goes into hiding one day without notifying her in the slightest, no doubt because of the rumors of him being the leader of the ZLF. Naturally, Shina doesn’t believe the rumors and instead ventures forth to find out the truth, thus providing the audience a chance to witness the nature of Shina and Gado’s relationship as daughter and father once they finally meet and the truth behind the elder Gado’s little vanishing act finally manifests.

Busuzima the Chameleon

Busuzima the Chameleon

The Unlockable Eight

Okay, moving on to the remaining eight characters in the game, starting with Busuzima, whose name has already been mentioned before in this article in the storylines for at least two of the “Initial Eight.” By now, then, it should be obvious that this sinister scientist is indeed—as was the case in the original Bloody Roar 2—the real leader of the Zoanthrope Liberation Front, which truly lives up to its calling as a “front” for his continued experiments. Not much else needs to be explained about him, save for the fact that in true sociopathic fashion, Busuzima only cares about himself and his barbarous work and as such will use anyone as a pawn in his relentless quest to advance his research, as one can ascertain for oneself upon reading some of the background stories for several of the other “Unlockable Eight,” such as…

Bakuryu (Kenji) the Mole

Bakuryu (Kenji) the Mole

Bakuryu, who also makes a comeback in BR 2, even if only in namesake—not the original Bakuryu, Kato Ryuzo, obviously, but Kenji Ogami, Yugo’s adopted kid brother, who (as it has been explained in later installments of the BR series) was also once upon a time Kato’s former student and subsequent successor. The premise behind him is simple: Though a stoic mute upon being rescued by Yugo in the beginning of the story, Kenji surely enough starts to warm up enough to his new foster brother to the point where he starts enjoying living a normal life with him…until that fateful night when the two brothers are ambushed and Kenji is captured and brought to Busuzima’s laboratory, where Busuzima brainwashes him to become the new Bakuryu, ninja master and ZLF spy/assassin. Next thing we all know, the boy formerly known as Kenji Ogami starts dispatching anyone who dares to threaten the secrecy and security of the Front’s headquarters up until the point where he finally snaps out of the mind control that his captor had placed on him and starts avenging himself and his brother as well as anyone and everyone else whose lives the ZLF have made a living hell.

Mitsuko the Boar

Mitsuko the Boar

Next comes Mitsuko, who, in very much the same vein as Hans and Greg, makes her return to the BR saga as a playable character. That’s right…no longer is Mitsuko a character in name only; she actually gets to fight in this reboot of BR 2. Sadly, whatever fight she puts up against Shenlong in the very beginning of her story clearly doesn’t end in her favor, what with it being out in the open where even the most casual passerby would notice her beastorizing—something that she is loathe to do, particularly during a time where zoanthropes are persecuted by baseline humans left, right and center. Needless to say, then, she ends up a prisoner of the ZLF and, worse yet, a servitor of them as well, what with Busuzima brainwashing her to do his bidding. Will the brainwashing be potent enough, however, to lead her into battling and brutalizing either (if not, in fact, both) of her two daughters, or will she be able to snap out of it in time to turn the tables on her captors and put an end to their nefarious activities? Only time will tell…

Shenlong the Tiger

Shenlong the Tiger

Shenlong is next on the list to talk about. Basically, there’s no point to alter his story to the slightest degree, at least in the beginning. After all, he’s a creation of Busuzima’s—a clone of former Tylon assassin Long Shin, to be exact—who doesn’t believe he’s a clone or realize that all his thoughts and memories are mere fabrications that Busuzima had created for him to keep him check while the devious lab lizard carries on with his experiments. As far as he’s concerned, he’s the “perfect” zoanthrope—the alpha male of all zoanthrope kind, if you will—and on that note the rightful leader of the Zoanthrope Liberation Front…that is, of course, until near the end of his story arc, where he discovers the truth of him being a mere front man for Busuzima and his cruel experiments. This all leads to the end sequence where, at least in the original  BR 2, Shenlong only allegedly takes his own life upon finally accepting his “imperfections” (i.e., missing memories of a former life that he hadn’t the opportunity to live, as further detailed here between 8:31 and 10:21), then disappearing altogether until resurfacing in Bloody Roar 3 as a carrier of the X-Genome Code and—at least in his eyes—destined to die anyhow, living only for the moment and caring not for the future. However, in my reboot of BR 2, I’d make Shenlong’s suicide real, despite him being one of the franchise’s better villains. Don’t worry, though, for while this incarnation of Shenlong may be dead by the end of my retelling of the story, I’ll be sure to bring Shenlong back to play a part of my BR 3 reboot, so you may want to stick around for part three of this miniseries to figure out what that might be. 😉

Gado the Lion

Gado the Lion

Another returning character is Gado, who—as explained in my discussion of Shina’s story—is suspected of being the leader of the ZLF and as such has gone into hiding, working incognito with his right-hand woman Jenny to track down the Front’s headquarters and bring the real ringleader to justice. He knows better than to think that two zoanthropes will be enough to bring down an entire terrorist organization, however, and employs Jenny to track down a number of the “Initial Eight” and clue them in on the whereabouts of whomever they might be seeking (Yugo searching for Kenji/Bakuryu, Stun gunning after Busuzima, Shina discovering the identity of “Alpha” (3:39 to 4:50), etc.). As mentioned earlier, his relationship with his daughter Shina has grown strained because of his decision to veil himself and his operation from her and test her skills as a mercenary in such a clandestine way (See Shina’s original BR 2 story for more information on that, particularly between 5:34 and 7:33.), but even she learns to set her differences aside with him to help him clean up the scraps of the ZLF near the end of the struggle. Once that’s all taken care of, Gado has one more task to accomplish, and that is to train the younger generation of zoanthrope heroes (Yugo, Alice, Shina, Bakuryu, etc.) to see how competent they will be in fighting for the cause that he’s continuing to represent, albeit in a different fashion than before as a member of the United Nations (See the following YouTube video by LightningBS for more on this development.). In other words, he, too—as is the case with so many other original BR 2 characters—enjoys keeping more or less the exact same story he’d been given in the original game.

Jenny the Bat

Jenny the Bat

The last original character we’ll be talking about in this section is Jenny Burtory, the spy whom Gado hires to be his informant for this installment on the Bloody Roar saga. Other than what I’ve already said about her in Gado’s story, there isn’t much to say about Jenny or even to add to her own story, save for perhaps the fact that of all the zoanthropes who are opposing the Zoanthrope Liberation Front, she comes off—at least in my opinion—as being the most flippant, sarcastic, and condescending piece of work and as such the least sympathetic. Even during her own story from the original BR 2 when Gado informs her of why he resigned from the Security Corps, her comments come off as dismissive and insincere. In fact, the only time I notice any sense of genuine compassion out of her is when it comes to Gado himself, specifically in the beginning of his story (1:24 to 1:55) when she scolds him for wanting to personally test each of the younger heroic zoanthropes’ fighting abilities when the wounds he’d received at the hands of the ZLF have yet to heal. Furthermore, the deepest level of character development doesn’t even present itself in her own story, but in Stun’s (6:35 to 7:33) when she chides the former Dr. Steven Goldberg for being so preoccupied with his own involuntary transmogrification and overlooking the fates of others who’ve suffered similar circumstances. In fact, she goes as far as to allude to the notion that she is one such zoanthrope and that unlike Stun—whose life expectancy is quite short, considering his condition—her life is promised to be long and, in its own little way, unforgiving, much to her apparent frustration. It is this aspect of her character that actually adds a layer to her otherwise snide and icy demeanor, even when it comes to hearing about her present employer resigning from his former position on account of the soldiers whom he was commanding ignoring his orders and deliberately slaughtering an innocent half-zoanthrope family (See between 0:20 and 0:49.). However, the question remains as to how she came to have such longevity, which I honestly cannot recall ever being explained in any of the following installments of the Bloody Roar franchise, or at least not in great detail. However, in my reboot, I’d propose a connection of sorts between her and Hans, who—as I’ve mentioned earlier in this article—had been put into cryogenic deep freeze by Tylon prior to being thawed out in the beginning of this particular chapter in the saga. Not only that, but seeing as Jenny is as proud of her beauty the way Hans used to be concerning his own looks while he was working for Tylon and also shares a similar appearance to his from his BR 1 days (blonde hair, green eyes, slender figure, etc.), is voiced by the same voice actress in Bloody Roars 2 and 3 as Hans was in BR 1 (Samantha Vega), and—at least in the original BR 2—borrows a number of moves from his arsenal, I think this arc would do wonders for Jenny’s character. As for the storyline connection itself…I won’t give away too much here. All I can ask is that you stay tuned for the third part of this miniseries and, in the meantime, check up on the science of cryopreservation here as well as elsewhere on the Internet for more background information. Oh, and feel free to study some video game footage of the first two Bloody Roar games to witness for yourselves the similarities between Hans and Jenny, including part 2 of SCXCR’s Bloody Roar Retrospective.

Bambo, a possible adversarial character from the tabletop RPG Macho Women with Guns and the inspiration behind the BR 2 Reboot character of Lance Underwood

Bambo, a possible adversarial character from the tabletop RPG Macho Women with Guns and the inspiration behind the BR 2 Reboot character of Lance Underwood

Now at long last we come to the two members of the “Unlockable Eight” who are my personal inclusions into the Bloody Roar setting. On one hand is Lance Underwood, a Muay Thai-kickboxing deer zoanthrope from Canada who has become a soldier for the ZLF on account of the Security Corps murdering his family, as mentioned in Jenny’s story within the last paragraph. In summary, Lance used to be a kind-hearted man who’d endured Tylon’s brainwashing experiments himself and, against his will, had become one of their top soldiers until the corporation’s collapse. Since then, he’s been absolved of all the crimes he’d committed while under Tylon’s influence and has lived a normal family life until the aforementioned annihilation of his wife and children. Since that tragic moment, he has gone the way of Frank “The Punisher” Castle of Marvel Comics fame and become a militant, vengeance-driven fighting machine, albeit not necessarily his own man as Frank was. Moreover, the forces to whom he’s lent his services aren’t exactly noble on account of the fact that they don’t practice what they preach in terms of preserving zoanthropekind and promoting zoanthropes’ equality to base stock humanity. He’s convinced otherwise, however, and is too blinded by his own grief and disenchantment with the baseline half of the human race to see the light until towards the end of the story when the ZLF is officially dissolved…or at least until a future installment within this reboot of the BR franchise. Which installment exactly, you may ask? I’m not at liberty to say here. Again, as I’ve said a number of times already, you’ll just have to wait until a later article.

For the best possible depiction of the BR 2 reboot character Gayle Newcastle, just imagine Jamie

For the best possible depiction of the BR 2 reboot character Gayle Newcastle, just imagine Jamie “Sirelda” Dauncey as her human form and her beast form resembling that of a Street Shark.

Last but not least, we have Gayle Newcastle, an Australian animal rights activist who—unlike a certain other animal rights activist I’ll be mentioning in the second portion of this installment—takes her passion for the preservation of animal life to a particularly dangerous extreme. You see, Gayle starts of as a commonplace baseline human who actually sympathizes with the cause of the world’s zoanthrope population and sees the beast hunters for what they are: glorified poachers guided by hatred who’ll stop at nothing to completely wipe zoanthropekind off the face of the earth. So much does she side with the zoanthropes, in fact, that she uses a portion of the donations made to her organization to pay for a surgical procedure that transforms her into a shark zoanthrope—a transformation that, in spite of its procedure being a success, doesn’t come without complications. For example, unless she’s submerged in water, Gayle can only remain in her newly acquired beast form for a few hours at a time before she starts to “drown” and must either revert back to human form or die of suffocation. Likewise, Gayle suffers from a nigh-insatiable appetite, which can only be appeased if she eats meat—an egregious violation of her organization’s code of conduct. Regardless of these shortcomings, however, Gayle soon becomes a force to be reckoned with for many a beast hunter party, marauding their ilk left and right with the help of her freestyle form of wrestling to the point where she draws the attention of the ZLF, who readily take her into their fold. She’s quite a zealous supporter for the Front’s cause, too, and is blissfully unaware of the hypocrisy of their actions (i.e., kidnapping and converting resistant zoanthropes into fighting for them) until the very end of the story, where the truth is finally revealed and she comes to despise herself for turning her back on who she once was for the sake of supporting a group that was hardly what it’d claimed to be.

Just a VERY rough demo of the cover to a game that I only Wish existed--BLOODY ROAR BEAST CORPS!

Just a VERY rough demo of the cover to a game that I only wish existed–BLOODY ROAR BEAST CORPS!

Bloody Roar Beast Corps: Characters and Plot

In continuing the evaluation of BR 2’s setting, we shall now look into the other half of the struggle for zoanthrope equality—in other words, the feud between zoanthropekind and the rest of humanity—through the premise of Bloody Roar Beast Corps. It is in this story that we shall examine the severely fragile nature of human-zoanthrope relations on account of beast hunter activity and one particularly bold band of zoanthropes in their efforts to put down arguably the most dominant militia of beast hunters the world has ever perceived.

To put it simply, if the ZLF represent the one extreme of the whole “humans versus zoanthrope” conflict, then the primary villains of BRBC, the Order of Natural Preservation, represent the other. Out of all the many beast hunter factions within the world, these particularly well-organized human supremacists are every bit as vigilant in their stance on the human-zoanthrope conflict as the Front is on theirs and have employed every possible tactic under the sun to ensure humanity’s “survival” against the “monstrous anomalies” who lurk among them. However, rather than directly resorting themselves to the blunt tactics employed by other beast hunters, the Order uses diplomacy to inspire and unionize members of other beast hunter coalitions into their fold and more or less form their own worldwide army that does their dirty work for them. They’ve also conscripted many a baseline human who has been a victim of zoanthrope violence to act as the organization’s public face and speak out against the evils of zoanthropekind, thus gaining the open support of the masses on a global scale, especially when targeting the misdeeds—be they actual or fabricated—of many a high-profile zoanthrope (i.e., Alan Gado, former Commander of the Security Corps). Finally, when the going gets tough and action must be taken to either defend their human supporters or simply keep either zoanthrope supporters or zoanthropes themselves in line, the Order has equipped itself with a bizarre yet effective technological arsenal that, amongst other things, allows its most skilled soldiers and assassins to mimic the common zoanthrope’s beastorization process in order to give them an edge over their prey. Furthermore, there have been plenty of rumors surrounding the affiliation, such as the idea that they’ve taken many a zoanthrope hostage and have subjected them to various experiments that have “cured” them of their zoanthropy by preventing their endocrine systems’ natural secretion of “Factor B” into their bloodstreams. These rumors have further evolved to suggest that the advocates then brainwash their ex-zoanthrope prisoners to join their cause and fight alongside the beast hunters who would have otherwise gone out of their way to murder them by helping them take the lives of their former fellow beasts. To put it simply, then, the Order of Natural Preservation is the ultimate threat to zoanthropekind worldwide, and it would truly take a special breed of warrior to help bring them down and put an end to their machinations.

The Order of Natural Preservation:The antithesis to BR 2's Zoanthrope Liberation Front

The Order of Natural Preservation:
The antithesis to BR 2’s Zoanthrope Liberation Front

Then again, before I talk about the heroes of Bloody Roar Beast Corps, I find it only pertinent to discuss the nature of the Order’s leader, Zacharia Faust, a former Tylon scientist whose prowess in the biological studies is exceeded only by his strong predilection for occult legends and zoanthrope mythology. Being a cold, calculating, and deviously practical man, Faust is one of the furthest things one can imagine from his former colleague Hajime Busuzima. Even so, just as Busuzima uses the Zoanthrope Liberation Front as a mask for his continued experiments, Faust hides his true agenda behind the activities of his own coalition. His ambitions aren’t all that different from Busuzima’s either, as he, too, is searching to create the ultimate life form—not necessarily an immortal one, mind you, but one with nearly godlike power such as that which Uriko used to possess while she was a test subject for Tylon. As such, he really has no ill will towards zoanthropes per se. Rather, he just wants to harness their power to fuel his latest experiment, which involves the application of a small device that can drain a living organism of any chemical compound within its body that the user elects to purge from it and can transfer said substance into his or her own body in the form of a powerful blast of radiation.  The strange thing about this device, too, is that it oddly enough resembles an ornately carved stone disk that’s roughly the size of a serving tray—very much like the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts from Bloody Roar 3, in fact, which, believe it or not, is indeed a heavily documented artifact from zoanthrope history. It is according to legend that the actual Tabula grants its possessor precisely what its name implies—namely, the power of a thousand beasts—thus making the individual the most powerful zoanthrope in the entire world. Needless to say, it is this very legend that has inspired Faust to carry on this experiment, and what better a time to do so than when human-zoanthrope relations are at their most strained and base stock humans’ fear of their “Factor B”-empowered brethren is so easy to exploit? Now, granted, this arc doesn’t explain whether or not the Tabula itself truly exists or, if it does, if it works or not, but trust me: That notion can be later explored within my reboot of BR 3. In the meantime, however, with the inclusion of this development and the previously established connection between BR 2 and BRBC, I hope to keep the overall story of the BR series flowing smoothly from one installment to the next, covering each and every aspect of it along the way as I do so. Additionally, this serves as an example of how I plan to keep Tylon’s scientific influence a recurring theme throughout the course of the BR saga up to at least BR 3 while simultaneously trying to incorporate the supernatural elements presented within the actual game series in such a way so as to make them work for the franchise as a whole without steering it away from the light sci-fi themes that had made the story so compelling in the first place.

That's right, Stun. The story of Bloody Roar Beast Corps will be installment in this reboot that will be introducing the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts to the BR series...although not in the way you might otherwise think.

That’s right, Stun. The story of Bloody Roar Beast Corps will be the installment in this reboot that will be introducing the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts to the BR series…although not in the way you might otherwise think.

Of course, as is true with every good story, no villain is complete without a hero to come along and at least try to thwart his or her machinations, and Bloody Roar Beast Corps is no exception to this rule.  In fact, this story starts out with four heroes, all of whom belong to the same company of mercenaries, who have made it their mission to eradicate the Order of Natural Preservation and bring its members to justice before they can dare bring about any further harm to the world than they already have. The members of this zoanthropic “A-Team” are as follows:

Paul Upton is the hard-nosed leader of the team—a shrewd, level-headed Canadian who, as such, is a master tactician who can look at any given situation from multiple angles and come up with a solution to it within mere minutes. He’s a practitioner of combato/defendo—the official hand-to-hand combat style of British-born Canadian martial arts instructor Bill Underwood—and his beast form is that of a puma.

Sonja Nunez is the squadron’s tech expert and scout and can therefore hack her way into an enemy’s computer system just as well as she can maneuver her way into an enemy camp to gather vital information about them that she and the others can use to their advantage. Hailing from Mexico, she holds her country’s traditions close to her and her family even closer, so as one can guess, she’s quite upset, and rightfully so, when she hears about a pack of beast hunters affiliated with the Order abducting her family and trying to “draft” them into their legion of brainwashed militants. Can she keep in control of her emotions, however, and utilize her expertise in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and her ability to beastorize into a coyote to the best of her advantage, or will her fury consume her and make her another victim of the Order’s heartless procedures?

Mireille l’Oiseau is the unit’s mechanic and pilot—a woman who knows how to handle a fighter jet every bit as much as she does an entire militia of armed thugs and who is every bit as capable of solving a situation with her trusty toolkit as she is her own bare hands. Then again, flying should come as second nature to her, seeing as her beast form is that of a peregrine falcon. At any rate, though, Mireille is one smart cookie, albeit a little stereotypically brash at times and not above showing off her skills on the field, specifically when it comes to her mastery of savate, the official kickboxing style of her home country of France.

Finally, Yao Hong is the battalion’s artillery expert, known for his great strength and high degree of resolution. Your typical “gentle giant,” Yao is surprisingly tall and broad for a man of Chinese lineage, yet is disciplined enough to keep his head on straight and not throw his weight around unless a given situation absolutely demands it. That being said, even he has his limits when it comes to extreme prejudice, particularly when it comes to beast hunters, and is not afraid to unload a few rounds of heavy artillery into any zoanthrope-killing scumbag or—at the very least—metamorphosize into his panda beast form and unload on them with a few dozen KunTao Silat maneuvers that had been passed down to him by his father when he was but a child.

In addition to these four soldiers, there are two additional heroes who lend their skills to the fray against the Order, the first of which being animal rights activist Rupert Waters of Australia. A naturally born zoanthrope who is also a member of the same animal rights organization as Gayle Newcastle, Rupert—unlike Gayle—is usually quiet and reserved and is therefore patient enough to think about the consequences of his actions before he commits to performing them. Such is why he is respected amongst his fellow activists, who have willingly lent their support to his program ZAP-2 (Zoanthropes Are People, Too), a kind of people’s rights movement that recognizes the good in zoanthropekind and hence rewards noble zoanthropes for their just deeds while simultaneously taking more peaceful measures in educating the masses of the evils of beast hunting. Unfortunately, while ZAP-2 has been garnering much positive attention from the media in recent months, such attention has also given the Order reason enough to abduct Rupert and subject him to their methods of conversion, However, if the Beast Corps reach him in time before the Order stunts his brain’s ability to produce any “Factor B,” Rupert will gladly lend them his talents on the field, from his clever application of aikido to the natural abilities of his turtle beast form.

Likewise, there’s Rupert’s daughter Annette Waters, who is arguably her father’s biggest supporter and, sadly, also a captive of the Order. Though not as reserved and reflective as her father, at least she’s not as rebellious as her former best friend Gayle has proven to be and can take note of a bad deal when she senses it. Unfortunately, her fierce devotion to her dad’s cause won’t be enough to help Annette resist the conversion process that the Order surely has in store for her, so it’s up to the Beast Corps to reach her before she suffers such a foul fate. Should they manage to do so, however, they’ll be rewarded with yet another ally who’s confident and competent enough to aid them in their mission, for with her application of Tae Bo as a style of self-defense and her ability to beastorize into a kangaroo, who’s to say that she wouldn’t be a force to be reckoned with?

Dr. Herman Maxwell (left, with Dr. Steven Goldberg, pre-Stun days):A background character from BR 2 who will become an actual participant in the story of Bloody Roar Beast Corps. What will his future be after this part of the saga comes to a close, however?

Dr. Herman Maxwell (left, with Dr. Steven Goldberg, pre-Stun days):
A background character from BR 2 who will become an actual participant in the story of Bloody Roar Beast Corps. What will his future be after this part of the saga comes to a close, however?

One last key character I’d like to introduce into the story of Bloody Roar Beast Corps is Dr. Herman Maxwell, the Tylon scientist who was formerly the mentor of Dr. Steven Goldberg prior to the latter man’s abduction and transformation into Stun. While Dr. Faust has plenty of capable fellow scientists aiding him in his objective—a number of whom serve as bosses during the course of the video game adaptation of this story—only one sticks out as a segue character from BR 2, and that would be this gentleman here. You see, back when the original BR 2 still has a PlayStation web page dedicated to it, Dr. Maxwell was brought up as being the man to whom Steven reported Busuzima’s unorthodox experiments. However, rather than take his protégé’s concerns into consideration and trying to shut down Busuzima’s work, Maxwell instead turned his back on Steven and allowed Tylon security to lead him into Busuzima’s laboratory, where the nefarious lab lizard proceeded to transform him into the world’s first official insect zoanthrope. Sadly, because the experiment resulted in Steven’s—now Stun’s—body becoming unstable on account of having his natural DNA tampered with beyond recognition, Busuzima found himself perplexed and frustrated and as such demanded to know how he’d produced such unsatisfactory results. Therefore, in order to learn from his errors, he decided abruptly to use Maxwell as his next test subject, altering his DNA as he saw fit and, upon stimulating his brain to produce “Factor B,” turned him into a toad zoanthrope. Since then, Maxwell has come to lament his fate and wishes he had the resources to turn himself back into a regular human again, although truth be told, at least Busuzima had discovered what he’d done wrong with Steven’s metamorphosis when he’d converted Maxwell into a zoanthrope, so if nothing else, at least Maxwell can enjoy the cellular stability that Stun cannot. Not only that, but while in his beast form, he possesses toxic skin (thanks to the parotoid glands located on his back between his shoulder blades and spine), great jumping ability, and a long prehensile tongue. Plus, ever since Faust and his underlings chanced to rescue Maxwell from the collapse of Tylon’s South American laboratory from BR 1, they were kind enough to brainwash him just enough to “program” him to know the fighting art of Shini-Rokugo-Ken—the same fighting style used by Gen-Fu from Tecmo’s celebrated Dead or Alive fighting game franchise. In short, Herman can be quite an opponent for the Beast Corps…should he desire to be, that is, and not let the grief of his transformation or, for that matter, his reconstituted sense of morality get in the way of the services that he’s now providing his one-time rescuers. Can Faust find a way, then, to make sure that Maxwell stays in line during his tenure under him, or will the middle-aged molecular biologist finally find the strength and determination he needs to turn his former colleagues in for their crimes? There’s only one way to find out for sure.

And so this proposed reboot of Bloody Roar 2 comes to a close. Come back next time, though, as we examine the story of Bloody Roar 3!

And so this proposed reboot of Bloody Roar 2 comes to a close. Come back next time, though, as we examine the story of Bloody Roar 3!

Well, that’s pretty much my reboot of Bloody Roar 2 in a nutshell. Hopefully, all you BR fans see where I’m going with this reboot as a whole and will be willing to come on back for the third part when I get the chance to post it. Again, as mentioned earlier, if there are any disputes with any of the ideas I’ve presented here, please don’t hesitate to share your concerns in the comments section below. Suggestions for what you’d like to see in my reboots of Bloody Roars 3 & 4 and BR Extreme/Primal Fury are also welcome, as I look forward to drum up some conversation on this blog. Otherwise, please stick around for future installments to this miniseries, and thank you all for reading. Also, be sure to check out my author page at Smashwords.com and my Author Central pages at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and to follow me on Twitter @DustinMWeber. Until next time, then, happy reading!

Regards,
Dustin M. Weber

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PS: For the sake of convenience, here are the links to the other parts of this miniseries:

Part 1: July 23, 2012

Part 3: February 2, 2013

Part 4: February 7, 2015

Part 5: August 23, 2015

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Bloody Roar (c) 1997-2012 Hudson Soft Co., Ltd./2012 Konami Digital Entertainment. Additional materials used in this article are as follows:

Bambo and Macho Women with Guns D20 Modern Edition: Written by James Desborough and Nathan Webb, 2003 for Mongoose Publishing

Pic of Jamie “Sirelda” Dauncey: Accelerator3359.com

Street Sharks: (c) 1994-1996 DIC Entertainment

Bloody Roar logo used in Bloody Roar Beast Corps cover: (c) 1997-2012 Hudson Soft Co., Ltd./2012 Konami Digital Entertainment

All other logos used in Bloody Roar Beast Corps cover: (c) 1995-2012 Sony Corporation/Sony Computer Entertainment America

Order of National Preservation logo: (c) 2012 Dustin M. Weber, created with MyECover.com

Bloody Roar II logo at the end: (c) 1998-2012 Hudson Soft Co., Ltd./2012 Konami Digital Entertainment; image copied from Bloody Roar 2 Game Sample – Playstation by Vysethedetermined2

All other visuals used (c) 1998-2012 Hudson Soft Co., Ltd./2012 Konami Digital Entertainment.

All opinions expressed within the above article, however, are solely those of the author himself and no other party.