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Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament [PS2]

How does Atari's fighting engine hold up without Goku and the gang?

The Graphics:
Borrowing from Dragonball Z: Budokai 2, Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament puts a cell-shaded spin on its traditional character designs. The look fits well for this series, though the backgrounds are barren and kept very simplistic. Menu layouts are crisp and all video, while ripped directly from the animated story arc, looks just fine.

The Sound:
Though unremarkable, most of the music is either remixed or taken directly from the series, so it has a familiar feel to it. Same can be said for the voices, which were done by their cartoon counterparts. Sound effects are on par for a fighting game.

The Disk:
Trying to stand out on the shelves, Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament goes for the glossy cover with Yusuke front and center and Younger Togoro behind him. The back sports your standard fare with screenshots and technical information, but it's also glossed up, which is a nice touch. The instruction manual covers the basics and a brief overview on the story (see below), but it won't make much sense unless you've seen the series. Those wanting printed character move lists are outta luck.

The Story:
Straight from the manual:

"Fourteen-year-old Yusuke Urameshi is having a typical day. He's cutting class at school, having arguments with his teachers, and getting into fistfights with his rival, Kuwabara. Hey - when you're the toughest kid in town, you have a reputation to maintain! But then Yusuke does something that betrays his killer rep. He dives in front of a speeding car to push a little boy out of harm's way! Yusuke makes the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of another, but is it really time for this brash young man's life to come to an end?

Led by the sprightly, pink-robed Botan after saving the boy, Yusuke enters a realm that is not quite normal - Spirit World. There, Yusuke meets Koenma, a 700 year-old ruler with the body of a toddler, pacifier and all! But there's no room for laughs, as Koenma gives Yusuke an ordeal to restore his life. Hatching a Spirit Beast!

By completing a series of tasks, Yusuke has reclaimed his life, but has only one day to be revived by someone's kiss - and that someone might be Kuwabara! Back in the flesh, Yusuke finds he can see supernatural creatures hiding in the living world and quickly hunts down a demon criminal. With this move, he learns his adventure is only beginning. Yusuke is a spirit detective.

Life for these teens refuses to settle down, as Spirit World makes a chilling discovery. The Togoro Brothers faked defeat during Yusuke's last case, in an elaborate plan by the trillionaire Sakyo. Now Togoro will hit Yusuke with a terrible threat. Enter a vile competition run by the criminal world or watch everyone he knows be hunted down and destroyed!

After two months of urgent training, Yusuke, Kuwabara, Kurama, Hiei, and a mysterious Masked Fighter board a rickety boat to Hanging-Neck Island, home of the Dark Tournament. The competition attracts the most dangerous demon fighters and double-crossing human gamblers that the world has ever seen."

Similar to most fighting games, the main menu offers a handful of options. Playing the game's story mode (appropriately titled "Dark Tournament") puts you in control of Team Urameshi from training with Master Genkai to the showdown with Team Togoro. "Arcade" does away with the story and has you fight through ten battles to a final opponent of your choosing. "Survival" puts you up against nine straight opponents to see if you can, well, survive. "Skirmish" is this game's versus mode, which allows for one-on-one or tag team fighting with the computer or a friend. "Training" runs through a character's moveset while Genkai yells a wide variety of 'advice' (read: insults) your way. "DT Token Game" is something of a cross between checkers and a trading-card game where you and an opponent place tokens (earned through playing the other modes) on a board game-like structure and attempt to earn the most points at the end of a round.

Of course, token minigame aside, it's all about the fighting. In a surprise move, Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament strays from the Budokai formula with slightly more conventional button presses for strikes and combos. Trading blows builds up a Spirit Energy meter that can then be used for powered-up Spirit Moves, which are character-specific and activated with the shoulder buttons. Everything else resembles your standard fighter, as you win a round by depleting your opponent's life bar or knocking them out of the ring.

Since I'm not a hardcore fan of the fighting genre, one of the things I look for is an entertaining story to justify the usual frustrations that come from my lack of skill. "Dark Tournament" mode delivers a great retelling of the animated saga, and is paced well enough to maintain interest. The plot is divided into about thirty individual chapters, most of which involve the obvious straight fighting, but Atari mixed things up as best they could. For those who played through Dragonball Z: Budokai, the setup is basically the same. Each chapter begins with a short clip from the series, which while nothing new, certainly doesn't hurt.

Unfortunately, outside of "Dark Tournament", there really isn't much else to do. Assuming you manage to best the extremely cheap Younger Togoro, "Dark Tournament Plus" mode is unlocked. However, the only additions there are a few extended chapters where the token game is played. I suppose collecting tokens was supposed to be a major selling point (the manual proclaims there's over 150 different tokens to unlock), but the minigame, while creative, only lasts a minute or so and gets repetitive quickly. Unlocking characters and costumes is an almost-random process (a la Budokai 2), and the game provides no help whatsoever. Best to consult a strategy guide if determined to get everything...

A decent first effort, Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament isn't a bad game; just one that's been done batter many, many times before it. Series fans will get a kick out of re-enacting the plot, but I can't imagine fighting fans not familiar with the show getting much out of it. Unless you're a completionist, most everything offered can be accomplished in a rental, so it's hard to recommend a purchase. But the cover's shiny: That has to count for something, right?

Grade: 4 of 10 (2 Stars)

Additional Notes:
1.) According to the box, this game is rated "T" for teen due to Violence. Well, it's a fighting game, duh.

2.) Seriously, Younger Togoro is up there as one of the most annoying final bosses in the history of fighting games. Seven-, Eight-, Ten-, and THIRTEEN-hit combos on 'Easy'!? Effin' ridiculous...

Added: March 17th 2007
Reviewer: JJc14
Hits: 2717
Language: english


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  Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament [PS2]
Posted by anthonyfiddy2 on 2014-06-09 03:39:18
My Score:

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