This game is so cinematic that's no longer a videogame
Cinema and videogames are coming nearer and nearer in the last years in different ways, that's evident in games like the Final Fantasy series or Metal Gear Solid or in movies like The Matrix. That's why when Squaresoft announced its new The Bouncer as a "cinematic adventure" no one was surprised. Anyhow both Squaresoft and the actual developers
of the game, the Dream Factory, forgot to stress the first word of their definition. A cinematic adventure, an interactive movie, this is The Bouncer. An adventure game, that's what the Bouncer is not.
For this reason, we'll start this review stressing this fact. First of all, get beat'em up games like Double Dragon or RPGs like Final Fantasy out of your heads. To complete the Story Mode of The Bouncer you'll need not more than two hours. Of these two hours, just 45 minutes are playable. In fact the game proceed alternating real-time sequences and prerendered CG movies to unveil the plot. Here and there, sometimes, there is a battle, where the actual gameplay resides. Being more precise, you'll have to choose one of the three available characters before each battle. While you'll directly control only this character, the CPU will handle the others.
The story that's behind the Bouncer takes more than an element from the Final Fantasy series: an evil organization called Mikado, a group of friends with a mysterious past that is revealed throughout the (brief) game, a girl (obviously in danger) endowed with special powers. The characters are all greatly characterized, both the "good" ones and the villains.
Neither this game lacks of elements derived from the beat'em up genre. Don't forget that the story in Double Dragon was based on a guy who had to save his own girlfriend.
All it's quite predictable here, even though the developers had the nice idea to introduce
three slightly different stories, that occur according to the character you choose in a certain situation. In other words, in order to enjoy all the complete story of the Bouncer you have to play the game more than once.
Anyhow this is not enough to hide the fact that playable moments in The Bouncer are a rarity. During the battles you control the character on a 3-D plane, using the four main buttons to perform the different attacks.
The analog buttons of the Dual Shock allowed the developers to make these attacks different according to the pressure exerted. The truth is that this characteristic, that should have added something to the gaming experience, is near to be annoying.
If you didn't understand yet, not only in The Bouncer there is not something that can be properly called gameplay, but also those rare moments of actual gameplay are not exactly exciting. Very bad score here, because this game (oh sorry, this cinematic adventure) is absolutely one of the less playable titles available on Ps2. Adding to that, the Story mode doesn't feature a multiplayer support, that is necessary in games exploiting a beat'em up attitude. No explorations here and bad controls. I prefer Fantavision. Really.