Preview: Cowboy Bebop (PS2)

Publisher: Bandai / Developer: Banpresto / Genre: Action/Adventure / Release Date: 02-01-06

Let’s face it: Anime and video games are a marriage that is built to last. As a fan of both, that has always suited me just fine. However; looking at this from an objective manner it makes sense. Anime creates universes that tests the limits of our imagination, giving us all kinds of intriguing characters that may be dark, evil, flashy, comedic, over-the-top, etc. Video games do much of the same in a slightly different format that requires you to take the helm of things. With Americans in the last decade finally discovering the joys of anime, the relationship between the two has only gotten stronger. Gamers today are being assaulted with title of title in such series like, Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, Yu-Gi-Oh, Full Metal Alchemist, etc. All decent anime series for certain age levels. However, I can confidently say none of these games have set the world on fire. In fact the best anime/video games probably are the games that decided to use anime as their style of graphics. Tales of Symphonia comes to mind as one right off the bat. Today; however, we find ourselves with something of a bit more promise. Cowboy Bebop is an anime series most anime fans will immediately recognize just by the name alone. It’s tough to forget the series, and its subsequent movie, because of its deep characters and spell-binding storyline that chronicles the adventures of Spike, Jet, and Faye. Now, with little fanfare or advertising, we have another title on the horizon. Coming to a PS2 near you we have the first game adaptation in quite some time of Cowboy Bebop. Fans of the series have been rabid for something like this for a long time, but the real question is, can this title appeal to more then just that niche audience?

The mold for this game seems to be taken from other action games that feature third person fighting. Think Final Fight here and you’ll be very close to the mark. Relying heavily on hand to hand combat, with the occasional gun-play thrown into the mix, the game promises to stay true to the series at least in that respect. You’ll be able to control Spike, Jet, or Faye as you progress through familiar environments from the anime series, as well as brand new places designed for the game.

In terms of actual game-play we do have some details. The controls have been revealed. Normal punches and kicks will be thrown with the regular four buttons on the PS2 controller, with the upper R’s and L’s being used for more unique and dazzling combos. One of the most interesting aspects of Cowboy Bebop; however, isn’t the focus on hand to hand, but the relunctance to push guns as a viable weapon. Not too surprising since Spike and company always do use a lot of hand to hand techniques in the anime, but it still is interesting. You will actually be penalized for using your piece in this game, and if your one of those people who feel that a penalty is worth the easy kills, then you’re in for a rude awakening. Using the gun to kill will prove to be one of the more difficult tasks you will be faced with at certain times. The storyline, if you want to call it that at this juncture, will see the trio (along with Ed and Ein) tracking down in excess of fifty wanted criminals, trying to collect their bounties. So far the outlook is good for bonuses and secret content for successfully capturing these enemies. Fans of the anime will be thrilled to know that the chances for secret characters, new playing modes, and further plot development of the actual anime series are all possibilities for unlockable content in Cowboy Bebop.

In terms of graphics, this is the easiest part to figure out. Any game based off of an anime series is naturally going to rely heavily on the mountain of material already laid out before them. Cel-shading will be used to bring the crew to life, and screenshots have shown that the graphics of the game will mimic those that we are familiar with from the Cartoon Network anime series. As a fan of the anime I am most looking forward to the soundtrack. Relying heavily on the jazz influence that the series boasts, fans should delight in hearing a lot of the familiar tunes along with some new ones that should keep things a little interesting. One note of interest is that it is currently not known if the voice actors from the anime will be reprising their characters for this game. We can only hope that they do, since the cast is truly a talented one that deserves the praise the anime community generally bestows upon it.

With a release date of February the 1st, gamers will not have to wait long to get their hands on Bandai’s new title. Be sure to stay with Inside Pulse for any more info that may arise with Cowboy Bebop.