Inuyasha A Feudal Fairy Tale
Following up with yesterday's anime gaming coverage, I wanted to continue the nostalgia trip by revisiting late-era PlayStation 1 titles after playing Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories. During this time, anime was starting to pick up steam in the west thanks to Cartoon Network, 4Kids, and other dedicated animated blocks. In 2003, one of the largest names in anime was Inuyasha, providing fans with an early example of "mature-oriented anime." It was one of many I recall watching on the Adult Swim block on Cartoon Network and it would lead me to beg my mom to buy me Inuyasha A Feudal Fairy Tale once I saw it in the store.
It was a cheap budget game that I'd spend hours on, despite owning a PlayStation 2 at the time, due to how close it was to the source material. In the anime, Inuyasha, Kagome is sent back in time mysteriously to Feudal Japan, an era where demons and humans thrive. Saving Inuyasha, a half-human half-demon, she befriends him along with other companions including Miroku, a monk, and Sango, a demon huntress. Their main antagonist, Naraku, wishes to collect the demon shards for power and it's up to everyone to stop him.
Forgive me for omitting out several details as it has been forever since I've watched the series. Twenty years is a very long time from spending late Friday nights getting exposed to anime before I even knew what "anime" was. Surprisingly, despite its popularity, there were only a handful of Inuyasha titles were released. You'd think with the long-awaited sequel, Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon, that there'd be an influx of video games but nope. What we did wound up getting was one of the most interesting fighting games I've played.
Sharp-eyed fighting game fans will recognize Inuyasha A Feudal Fairy Tale's developer, Dimps, for the Dragon Ball Budokai series, Xenoverse, Street Fighter 4 and 5, Street Fighter x Tekken, and countless other fighters. More recently, they worked on The Breakers, which was polarizing but they're still in business over two decades later. This game was developed long before they would make a name for themselves as one of the largest developers as it was one of the first titles they worked on.
Before A Feudal Fairy Tale, Dimps was known for Sonic Advance, which many consider one of the best 2D Sonic games during a time when the series shifted to 3D. With all of the accolades the company would receive and have already received as the new kids on the block, Inuyasha was in good hands. For a game released well into the PlayStation 2's life cycle, it was a decent game for those who begrudgingly held on to their PSX. The sprites were well animated, with characters showing emotion and expression through animations. The audio uses the Japanese cast to reprise their roles in a fully-voiced story mode, and most importantly, the gameplay was incredibly simple to grasp.
Inuyasha A Feudal Fairy Tale is a "one-button fighter" that many fighting game fans call several games these days (cough DNF Duel). There are no "alternate commands" here, for everything is literally one button. Even the dashes! Basic attacks are separated from light and heavy attacks, or Triangle and CIrcle respectively. "Auto-combos" exists by pressing any button up to four times in a row, whether it's four light attacks, four heavy attacks, three heavy attacks, and a light attack, or three lights and a heavy.
This can be further extended to a special "Light Attack into Heavy Attack" combo, adding the total to six hits in a combo altogether. Pressing Circle three times, then Triangle two times, then Triangle, and Circle is a valid combo but the proper way to finish it is by using a special move. As you can already guess, special moves are bound to the Square button, with each character having three specials. T
here are no "Hadoukens" here, just forward + Square with the most 'complicated' attack being a character's super move. With the exception of a handful of characters, it's universally down, down + Square. I'm overexplaining this via several paragraphs so here's an in-game command list for a better explanation.
Reading this, the player is probably wondering about the title of this retrospection. How on EARTH is Inuyasha A Feudal Fairy Tale, "anime" Killer Instinct!? Hear me out, as KI is another game where it's easy to get carried away with combos. With as much damage as one does in any given time, fights can quickly spiral out of control. Surely there's a way to get out of a combo with the convenience of a single parry button, right? Behold the glorious Cross button!
Those on the receiving end of a combo can attempt to break it by parrying just as an attack lands. It can also be done outside of a combo, yielding better results for the defender than if it was done during a combo. Whether the parry is done outside or during a combo, the attacker who is parried will enter a stunned state. The only thing a stunned player can do is parry the counterattack, leading to results where players parry each other back and forth. The AI will LOVE to do this to you if you get too crazy with the auto-combos, but they are easily exploitable in other manners.
This also offers a hidden layer for an otherwise simplistic fighter as the parry button is entirely useful. High and mid attacks can be parried standing while low attacks must be parried while crouching. Savvy players can learn to mix high and low attacks within a combo to keep a player locked out of parrying as a failed parry proves detrimental. Special attacks and throws can not be parried, which furthers the guessing game of whether a player will bait a parry or play mind games.
Reminder, this game is a one-button fighter developed by a team that would embrace their fighting game prowess. Inuyasha A Feudal Fairy Tale was one of their first projects and many elements from this game would be expanded upon in future games they'd develop. The roster is a healthy twelve characters, featuring most of the important characters from the show. Characters and stages are unlocked as each character's story mode is played. As I mentioned, every dialogue is voiced, which may not seem like a lot as it's something taken for granted these days.
There would be a second Inuyasha fighting game released on the PlayStation 2 known as Inuyasha Feudal Combat. It's not a sequel to this game, however, as a different developer worked on it. Who, you may ask? Eighting, the same developer who worked on DNF Duel among others. We've come full circle on this "one-button fighter" thing. If you're remotely a fan of the series or fighting games in general, Inuyasha A Feudal Fairy Tale may surprise you as it has surprised me that there's a competitive scene for it. It is unironically one of the better anime fighters and one of my favorite anime games, which is something I can appreciate more without the nostalgic lenses.