Yu Yu Hakusho: Spirit Detective Review

Developer: Sensory Sweep Publisher: Atari
Release Date: December 9, 2003 Also On: None

After my experience with Legacy of Goku, I doubted that Atari could make a good anime game. Darn, I hate always being right. This game is based on the anime called Yu Yu Hakusho, one of the most popular anime in history. YYH happened to air in Japan at the same time DBZ was airing. By no means was YYH crushed by Akira Toriyama’s mega popular chef d’oeuvre. It was actually the only show that could rival DBZ in ratings.

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Yu Yu Hakusho has a very interesting story, at least in the anime. It’s about a juvenile delinquent named Yusuke who was killed trying to save a little boy. However, that’s not the end of the series, it is actually the beginning. Yusuke then has a chance to get his life back only if he becomes the Spirit World’s next Spirit Detective. The job doesn’t really involve much, except for stopping evil demons that want to bring chaos to our world (in YYH there is a Spirit World and our world). During his adventures as Spirit Detective, Yusuke makes a variety of friends. There is Kuwabara (Yusuke’s school rival), Korama (a master thief with a great heart), and my favorite, Hiei (a super fast demon who doesn’t mind chopping people in half). After explaining the background information, you probably are still confused what the title of the show actually means (just like the Z in Dragonball Z). I don’t even know what that means.

However, the game differs a lot from the original anime on the level of excitement. While the show gives you new and exciting material in practically every episode, the game gives you repetitive and shallow material in every level. In this game, you could play as Yusuke, Kuwabara, Korama, Hiei, a lady named Botan, and Yusuke’s girlfriend named Kayko. You take these characters and use them to complete the mission objectives. The mission objectives vary in each level, and are surprisingly one of the best features of the game. In one level, you have to control Kuwabara and help him find lost homework assignments, while in another level you have to control Botan and find evil bugs. Though some of the levels were very different from each other, most levels are short and/or very repetitive. I remember I had to beat-up the same type of demons in 5 different rooms, and the only differences in those rooms were the colors of the wall.

Strengthening your character is the basis of the game. You get your character, beat-up a baddie, and then get experience points. Get enough experience points and you could increase your level. If your level is high enough, you could learn a new move. Characters in this game get two types of moves; actual physical attacks (i.e. punching, kicking, and slashing) and spirit attacks (attacks powered by your spirit). While you don’t learn any new physical attacks when you increase your level, you do get new spirit attacks. However, each character could only get 3 new spirit attacks. That really decreases the amount of joy you could get out of this game. You could switch your characters during the level, but the problem is that most people, including me, tend to just choose to play as their strongest character and let the other characters do nothing. I just chose Yusuke and leveled him up, and barely ever played as the other characters. The game needed to make me use all of my characters, not just one.

The biggest flaw in the game was the battle engine. It is monotonous and dull. It plays like Legacy of Goku, where you run around and just shoot your spirit attacks until your opponent dies. The AI is terrible, because all they do is run around chasing after you, and never perform any special strategies. Because the battle engine was so flawed, the boss battles (which were supposed to be big and fun) where boring. All I had to do was run around; shoot some spirit energy at the opponent until he dies; the whole “hit and run� style doesn’t strike me as being fun.

The game vaunts about having 20+ levels, but what they don’t tell is that most these levels are as short as heck. You could beat some of these levels in less than six minutes. You could actually beat the game in less than 3 hours. There is only one mini game that you could unlock in the game, and it’s not that fun.

The game’s graphics and audio are also pretty bad. The graphics are semi-3D, but the character models don’t even have faces. You could only recognize the character by their clothes and hairstyle. I’d prefer a good 2D game over an ugly 3D game any day of the week.

The audio is pretty annoying. There will be some tune that will be played over and over again until you scream. The good news is that you will be focusing more on the boring gameplay than the game’s graphics.

Another flaw in this game were the mazes that I had to complete were both senseless and tedious. In one of the beginning levels, you had to get through Yusuke’s house. You had absolutely no clue where to go, so I had to read a FAQ on this game (a very special thanks to LordofthePixieStix for writing it) and completed them.

Let’s say that the game was longer, had a much better battle engine, was a good looking 2D game, had good audio, better boss battles, actual side quests, had good replay value, and was fun, then that YYH: SD would be a great game. What bugs me is that Atari can’t make a good anime game. They failed with DBZ and now they failed with Yu Yu Hakusho. However, Atari can’t resist making quick cash, which leaves fans of the series wanting more; a lot more.

Graphics: 4
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 4
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 4
Final: 5.2
Written by Simon Review Guide

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