Bring it Back | Power Stone
Starting out a little late, but it’s another Bring it Back feature for your Sunday viewing pleasure. Last week we checked out the Klonoa series, and the week before, it was Jet Set Radio. Well now we look back at another Dreamcast classic series, but this time from Capcom. Capcom was quite the publisher during the Dreamcast’s brief time in the spotlight, releasing 30 games for the platform. Of those games, many have fond memories of the Power Stone franchise. While it was originally an arcade game, it quickly made a home on Sega’s ill-fated hardware. That’s why it’s this week’s feature franchise.
As mentioned before, Power Stone originally released in Japanese arcades in 1999, though the Dreamcast version followed closely after. Since it was on Sega NAOMI hardware, like many arcade games, the Dreamcast port was a simple task. This arena fighter put players in fictionalized versions of 19th century real world locations as they competed to gather power stones. For the fighters, the Power Stone would grant their biggest wish, allowing them to live out their dreams. From a gameplay perspective, this had two fighters in an arena using weapons and other power-ups while collecting a handful of different colored gems. By default, when a player would gather three Power Stones, they would transform into a stronger form, gaining powerful ranged and melee attacks. This transformation would last until their special gauge depleted, or until they used one of two Power Fusion abilities, and then they would revert to normal.
Power Stone was one of the games that helped to pioneer the arena fighter. While it may not have been the first, it was a successful formula that garnered a lot of praise. Each of the ten fighters had unique abilities and gave players an incredibly charming look into this world. Characters like Edward Falcon, a hot-shot pilot who acts as the main protagonist for the series. After collecting Power Stones, he transforms into the Red Whirlwind, a fighter capable of launching missiles and fiery uppercuts. Other characters included Gunrock, Wang-Tang, Rouge, Jack, Ayame, Ryoma, and Galuda. There’s also two boss characters to unlock with Kraken and Valgas. Each character came with unique abilities and their own reason to gather the Power Stone.
If a player were to collect a Power Stone, their opponent could simply beat it out of them to take it for themselves. This often led to taking risks to avoid getting attacked while collecting the powerful gems. While the Power Stones were the main focus in battle, there were many other powerful weapons to utilize. The game offered miniguns, flamethrowers, hammers, swords and more at the disposal of each fighter. There was even food that players could find to heal themselves during a fight. Aside from the main game, Power Stone also utilized the Dreamcast VMU for additional minigames. These games were often simple, especially given the VMU capabilities, but did offer some additional features. You could even earn rewards for playing them that would unlock content in the main game.
With the success of the first Power Stone, it made sense for Capcom to produce a sequel, and they did just that one year later. Power Stone 2 came with new characters, modes, items, and changes to the gameplay. It also added four-player battles, making it more like a party game. Included in the new characters were Accel, Gourmand, Julia, Pete, Mel, and Edward’s father Pride. One of the new modes on offer was the Adventure Mode, which gave players the chance to collect rewards and enjoy the story of their fighter. With Arcade Mode, players would enter four-player battles where two fighters would advance to the next round. Finally, the item shop allowed for additional items and even articles of clothing to be purchased to extend the longevity of the game. These changes offered a bit of additional fun to the game, maintaining the entertaining qualities of the original.
Of course, part of Power Stone’s success is its presentation. Not only did the game feature fantastic anime inspired visuals, but it also had excellent music. Series composer Tetsuya Shibata provided an amazing soundtrack that invoked adventure at every turn. I can still remember the sounds of the Londo stage from the first game, as it was easily one of my favorite tracks. You also had the announcer, which was incredibly energetic while speaking English with a Japanese accent. All the characters had their own voices too, speaking in Japanese with bits and pieces of English thrown in. This unusually stellar presentation made this series incredibly fun to play for hours on end, especially in multiplayer.
Another factor was the sense of humor and the way the game referenced pop culture in a variety of ways. Many of the characters had their own humorous endings when obtaining the Power Stone. Some would use it for power while others would find comedic purposes to use it. This includes Gunrock using it to always win when gambling while Rouge opened up her own successful fortune telling business (that unfortunately didn’t always go how she imagined it). Transformations from the Power Stones would also give characters appearances similar to other iconic characters. For example, Wang-Tang would transform into the Agile Dragon, which was essentially Super Saiyan Goku. Ryoma’s transformation would also resemble Marvel’s Silver Samurai (a character who would appear in Marvel vs. Capcom 2). It was this unusually stellar presentation that made this series so fun to play for hours on end, especially in multiplayer.
Power Stone would also get a short-lived anime after the first game released. With 26 episodes, this series chronicled the adventures of Edward on his quest to gather the Power Stones and find his father. It added a little bit of lore to the series, including how many Power Stones there were as well as the way they actually worked. Each one would have their own properties based on attributes like fire, water, or wood and would provide their own powers to the user. If one were to gather all seven, then they could even form the Power Stone of light. The series did get an English adaptation by ADV Films, though the series was still not widely publicized.
The series wouldn’t see another title, but it did get a collection in 2006 for Sony’s PSP. Players that bought Power Stone Collection would be able to enjoy both Power Stone titles in one convenient package. Fighters from Power Stone 2 could be accessed in the first Power Stone, making this like a definitive version. They could also experience the first game’s VMU minigames here as well, though not the ones from the second game. Despite being an excellent collection, this would be the last we would see of the Power Stone series. While characters would show up from time to time as cards or costumes, this franchise has been long dormant. That’s why we feel that it’s time to Bring it Back!
Obviously, the first thing to do here would be to bring the original games to the spotlight. An HD remaster of the collection would be ideal, but it would also be great to add online multiplayer. This seems like a perfect title for the Nintendo Switch, as it might not do nearly as well on PlayStation and Xbox. If this HD remaster can garner enough attention, it might be enough for Capcom to consider reviving the franchise for a full blown sequel. Of course, gaming has changed quite a bit since the year 2000. What worked then won’t exactly work now, so if a sequel were to come, there would have to be some changes.
Gameplay would likely have to evolve to something much deeper. While the items and weapons were enough to maintain some variety, the actual combat system would need a rework. Adding a deeper combo system would likely keep players engaged and provide a rewarding sense of accomplishment for pulling certain moves off. Perhaps Capcom could take inspiration from the Naruto arena fighters to find a happy medium. Honestly, given their experience, CyberConnect2 would probably be an excellent choice in developer for a new Power Stone. Given that Capcom already has an established relationship with making games with them, it could be a perfect match. Imagining CyberConnect2’s stellar animation and presentation with a new Power Stone would honestly be a dream come true.
What do you think? Is a new Power Stone something you would love to see? Perhaps you would have your own ideas or suggestions for a new entry in the series? Or maybe you would rather the series remain dormant? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to check in with us next week for another Bring it Back feature.