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A PSP Video Game Review: Kinnikuman: Muscle Generations (キン肉マン マッスルジェネレーションズ)

If you enjoyed “Kinnikuman” (Ultimate Wrestling), you’ll definitely enjoy this wrestling game. Although not sporting the better animation like the GameCube game, this Sony PSP features more characters, fun gameplay and many special moves!

TITLE: Kinnikuman: Muscle Generations (キン肉マン マッスルジェネレーションズ )

DEVELOPER: Aki Corporation

PUBLISHED BY: Bandai

CONSOLE: Sony PSP

Kinnikuman: Muscle Generations is a PSP fighting game based on the manga and anime published on Weekly Shonen Jump. Many people are familiar with “Kinnikuman” through the 80’s toys called M.U.S.C.L.E as well as the animated show “Ultimate Muscle” and through the Nintendo GameCube game “Ultimate Muscle: Legends vs. New Generation”

The original show portrayed Kinnikuman as a hero who can turn to a giant and take on monsters, later on it became a comedy/fighting series which Kinnikuman and others take on rivals in the wrestling ring.

THE GAME:

The object of the game is broken down to several modes.

VICTORY MODE: This is where you take a fighter (you start off with around a dozen or so different fighters) and battle through a half dozen opponents. When you beat the final challenger, you open up new characters.

BATTLE MODE: Where you can play single battle, tag battle, tournament battle, elimination battle (5 vs. 5) and survival battle.

TAG TOURNAMENT: 8 tag teams fight for the tag team championship

The collection page shows the miniature figures of each character. Opened up when you win in victory mode.

And another mode which I can not access yet since I haven’t played the game to completion with each character just yet.

GAMEPLAY:

The gameplay is similar to a wrestling and a fighter. Square button to block, X button to hit and kick, triangle button to jump and do a combination of grappling, and circle a grapple button. Top shoulder buttons are utilized to trigger a special move(s).

Unlike wrestling, there is no pinning. You pretty much go at it until the person’s health bar is depleted.

In the beginning, once you figure out the moves it may seem boring at first…because you can do the same thing over and over again but once you start advancing, you realize that your opponents are stronger, will block and counter your moves, use grappling moves that will make you feel for your character as it cringes in pain and is about to lose.

This is where it becomes fun because with so many characters in the game and the fact that you want to open up these characters, this game will keep you busy.

But if you are in it for a straight forward wrestling game or straight forward fighter, this game is not that. Some may feel that it can be repetitive because each character doesn’t have a large move list but with a large roster, this is one of those games you can pass the time on a long commute. Note: You can’t save your progress during the match, it will save your progress when you beaten the game with the character and open new characters but sleep mode will come in handy.

It would have been cool to see an implementation of a tournament where you can create a fighter or take your character with its own storyline to rise to the top but the game is straightforward with no overwhelming story behind the character unless you have read the manga or watched the anime.

GRAPHICS:

Where the GC game is cel shaded, the characters are rendered like a 3D fighter. When you do your special moves, they are done well, some characters look very cool and really, on the PSP, it looks good. But the cel shaded look on the Gamecube version is what I enjoyed more.

AUDIO:

During the match, you hear the two announcers talking about the match. You get your grunts and bone cracking but unfortunately, this is no WWE Raw vs. Smackdown and you get a lot of voice and really, there are no cut scenes in that same manner. Well, you get the intro and the stare down and trash talk of the characters right before the game) A year later and seeing how games have implemented so much on the PSP games (video, audio, gameplay in Syphon Filter to the mass amount of videos and songs in DJ Max), you wish that there could have been much more to the game in the audio department. I did like the announcer, sounds like Jillian (announcer of WWE Raw vs. Smackdown) doing the introductions to this game.

Playing games like BLEACH 2 and with the upcoming NARUTO game on PSP, you want to see the combination of animation and voice being integrated with a game like this.

USER FRIENDLY FOR NON-JAPANESE SPEAKERS:

This game is indeed user friendly for non-Japanese speakers if you want to get in there and play a match. You can figure it out if you can’t read Japanese.

Let me just say that I’m not a reader of the manga, I have not watch too many episodes of Ultimate Muscle. But I am a fan of fighting and wrestling video games (and heavily into import gaming on the portable consoles). Although, the game felt repetitive at times because I can use a certain move over and over to beat an opponent, you realize as you progress of how tough these other characters can be. How frustrating it can be.

Remember the days of trying to beat M. Bison in Street Fighter II and how many quarters or continues you’d have to use to beat it? This is how “Kinnikuman: Muscle Generations” made me feel and gave me more excitement to find strategies to beat the final three opponents with each character.

RECOMMENDED: For those looking for a different hybrid fighting/wrestling game than what is currently offered on the PSP. Definitely for fans of the series.

RATED: 80% / 100

POSITIVES:
+ Many characters in one game to unlock and play against or play with
+ A variety of modes
+ With the vast number of characters, you will be playing this game for a long time.
+ Bosses will offer you a challenge but can be beaten (in other words, not as frustrating as an end boss of a SNK KOF game)
+ Based on a series that many people enjoy and the ability to play those characters

CONS:
– Unlike other games based on an animated or manga series, doesn’t utilize video or audio all that much and what is in the game is somewhat limited to just the announcers, intros and bone crunches. So, don’t expect animated shorts, videos or audio on par with games like BLEACH 2 or the upcoming NARUTO game.
– Fighting can get repetitive with the use of the same moves over and over because of low move list per character. Do not expect large move lists like WWE Smackdown vs. Raw
– No story implementation for each character.
– This is being nitpicky but it would have been nice if you can create your own wrestler/fighter but this is not WWE SvR so…no biggie.

Reviewer’s Score: 8/10