My experience with Bloody Roar is limited. I’ve jumped around as Alice in the original, and enjoyed fluttering about with Jenny in Bloody Roar 4. I just never really got to take a deep dive in any installment. It’s another series that has always eluded me, but one that I still look back on. It’s weird how that works. I’m glad I still had an interest in it because it led me to find a copy of Bloody Roar 3. This third installment of the furry-fury fighter has gotten overlooked, but it’s still an enjoyable game that continues (from what I can tell, at least) the tradition of the series. To add, I think this is the perfect game for those wanting to test the waters to see if this is the right fighting series for them.
At the center of the Bloody Roar universe are the Zoanthropes. These humans with the ability to transform into beasts have been seen fighting amongst themselves for fun, work, or profit. Recently, strange marks called Crests have started appearing on Zoanthropes. The Crests allow the Zoanthropes to tap into even more power when they turn into their beast form. However, an untimely death soon follows as a result. A select few Zoanthropes with Crests decide to head into enemy territory to get to the root cause of this new phenomena. I think it’s important to note that Bloody Roar 3 was released in 2001. I feel fighting game “stories” weren’t finding their place during this time. When you start the game, you’ll get a brief introduction of the above, and then get a prologue about the character you select. Everyone has a different vignette, which is neat, but there really could have been more. Finishing the game will reveal a bit more about your chosen fighter, too. Again, it’s something but not enough.
But, a well-written narrative isn’t why we play fighting games. We play them so we can beat the crap out of our opponents. In Bloody Roar 3’s case, we do so with more than punches and kicks. We add claw slashes, fang bites, and tongue whips to the formula. Bloody Roar 3 features standard gameplay options. Along with an options menu where you can set the game to your liking, there’s a two-player versus mode, a practice mode, and a survival mode. In survival mode, you try to beat as many opponents as possible as your life gauge slowly recovers between rounds. Arcade mode is where you’ll likely be spending a good chunk of your time. You simply pick a character, watch their introduction, and make it through each bout until you reach the end.
Bloody Roar 3 is a 3D fighter that feels like a marriage of Tekken and Virtua Fighter. Creating combos with different punches and kicks can be done by button-mashing, however there is a technical level to each fighter that makes the game difficult to master. The right combination of button presses will allow your character to perform impressive combos that can send your foes upwards, downwards, or through some of the arena’s breakable walls. You’re also able to guard high and low, side-step, and jump. The real fun comes when you press the circle button and Beastorize aka turn into your character’s animal form. Turning into a beast unlocks a new set of moves and increases your strength. Naturally, it’s not permanent. A gauge on the bottom of the screen indicates when you’re about to turn back into a human. A transformed character can perform super-powerful and flashy Beast Drives. Regardless of them connecting, using these will revert you back to a human. Finally, when the conditions are right, you can enter Hyper-Beast Form. This will cause time to stop and enhance the benefits of beast form even more. It sounds like a lot to keep up with, but you’d be surprised how well all of the sub-systems flow. During my recent playthrough, I was able to find my groove quicker than I expected. I still got a ton of game overs but I never felt like I was at an unfair advantage.
Bloody Roar 3 looks damn good. Watching everyone getting the crap kicked out of them whether as a human or beast is incredibly satisfying. The moves are fluid, the Beast Drives are ridiculous, the arenas are varied, and the anime images during the prologues and conclusions look wonderful. Yes, the game does suffer from some early 2000s awkwardness, but I think it adds to the appeal. The voice acting can feel equally awkward, although again, I think it just gives the game more personality. The victory quotes are especially campy. But, the music makes up for any shortcomings in the audio department. There’s a great, upbeat and techno infused soundtrack that is sure to get your thumbs ready for combat.
Bloody Roar 3 will last as long you want it to. If you have a regular gaming buddy, then you’ll have hundreds of game hours ahead. If you’re solo, then you have a bunch of characters to play in arcade mode. There are also a few secret characters that can be unlocked if you manage to fulfill certain conditions. As fun as all this is, Bloody Roar 3 still feels like it’s missing something. Other than survival mode, there isn’t enough variety to keep Bloody Roar 3 ahead of the pack. Maybe that’s a good thing. Remember how I said in the introduction that this was a good game to try if there’s any interest in the series? Having only a few game options helps that. And for me, it was a great way to get reacquainted with the series. Bloody Roar 3 is a fun game and it’s gotten me excited to discover and rediscover more of the series.
Overall, 7/10: The third entry in the Bloody Roar series doesn’t have the same level of adoration as the previous two. But, there’s still some furry fun to be had.