Being a guest of Capcomâ€™s over in Sydney last week, we got exclusive time with the producers of Asuraâ€™s Wrath. Capcom producer Kazuhiro Tsuchiya and developer CyberConnect2's CEO Hiroshi Matsuyama, with the help of local translator Marco Bombasi, presented numerous chapters from their long-awaited beat-â€™em up, Asuraâ€™s Wrath.
In fact â€˜long-awaitedâ€™ could be an understatement considering the game was announced over three years ago. When talking to Tsuchiya, I was told that the delays were due to a deep focus on the storyline and character development. He continued to say that most games in this genre start with a combat engine, getting the gameplay dynamics down first and then crafting a story to suit. Asuraâ€™s Wrath however has been driven completely by the storyline and concept art, with a fully realised universe for the game coming way before development even began.
The end result speaks for itself. Asuraâ€™s Wrath is brimming with mystical scenery and detailed folklore, almost to the point where the game needs a supplementary booklet so you can keep track of everything. Borrowing heavily from Japanese myth, Asuraâ€™s Wrath tells the story of love, betrayal, revenge, and immortality - and thatâ€™s just within the opening cinematic.
Set in the realm of Shinkoku, there are eight Gods who protect the pitiful human race from devastating forces called the Gohma. After the Gods manage to save civilisation, a victory celebration turns sinister when the Emperor of Shinkoku is viciously assassinated. Our lead-character Asura is unwittingly blamed for the murder, resulting in his wifeâ€™s death and the kidnapping of his daughter.
Asura, once a powerful deity, is stripped of his powers and banished to Earth, only to awaken in a foreign world 12,000 years later. Needless to say, Asura is pretty pissed. He needs vengeance, served on a bed of onions.
The concept of anger and revenge is a pivotal device to the aptly titled game. Throughout it your anti-hero Asura will plough through hundreds of enemies with an almighty furious vengence, sometimes even destroying entire moons in his anguish. Battling enemies will power up your â€˜wrath meterâ€™ and, when full, Asura will be capable of mind-bending destruction. Depending on his level of â€˜mad anguishâ€™ Asura will even start growing additional arms to lay the beat-down with. Basically Asuraâ€™s Wrath is all about over-the-top, borderline ridiculous scenes of carnage along the lines of shows like Dragonball Z, complete with long cut-scenes and near-cheesy soap-opera banter.
Although this Asian mythology / science-fiction storyline might bewilder anyone who hasnâ€™t been exposed to Japanese cartoons, the finely tuned combat and gameplay dynamics should still appeal. A mixture of heavy and light attacks must be executed with near-perfect timing to ensure that Asura deals a maximum amount of damage at all times. Evading attacks and timing your own are essential and, in typical Japanese fashion, some of the boss-battles can be extremely tiresome. At no point however did I feel like the game was impossible. Itâ€™s just a matter of perseverance - even when up against an evil stone Buddha the size of the Earth.
Itâ€™s not long to go now until Asuraâ€™s Wrath finally releases, so you can bank on NZGamer.com to spill the beans in a few weeks time.
The Good: It (hopefully) arrives this month!
The Bad: Sadistic Japanese-style boss battles that never end
The Ugly: A lot of soap-opera-esque banter (that never ends)