One of the latest titles to be brought over from Japan’s PSN store, Outlaws of the Lost Dynasty has never quite made it over to European shores before. A classic 2D fighting title from 1995, it’s one of the chosen throwbacks to classic gaming that’s been given a fresh chance on PS3 and PSP.
Set in approximately 12thcentury China, Outlaws pits eleven warlords against one another in a bid to win the emperor’s favour and unimaginable spoils. Almost all are equipped with a unique weapons (a couple of true hardcases choose to fight empty-handed) which also influences their special attack that can be unleashed at will.
At it’s heat, Outlaws is a classic 2D fighter. Combatants have three degrees of strike – low, medium and hard – that can be rattled off in combos (nothing too flashy, however) or used to perform the aforementioned special attacks.
The weapon system does, however, introduce an interesting mechanic that could certainly stand to be explored in newer titles today. While it’s possible to block, the onus is on generating a powerful offence and hiding behind your sword for too long is likely to lead to it breaking, rendering your most powerful abilities weak and useless. It is, however, possible to trick your opponent into giving you an opening. By hanging out at the edge of a stage you can feign weakness, rocking dizzily until they’re drawn closer. As this also happens after you’ve taken a particularly bad beating, they’ll see you as easy pickings and move in for the kill, giving you a chance to catch them unawares.
While the controls are responsive, Outlaws shows its age in its visuals. Character and set design is inventive but flat. Animations also show the strain of the older tech behind the game and character movements are especially jerky. It’s a shame that a little more effort wasn’t made to make the most of the significantly improved modern hardware but it is possible to look past the dodgy frame rate and still enjoy the game, especially when the visceral sound effects make up for any missing detail in the movements. Sadly, you also have to wait a long time in between rounds as load times remain just as long as they were back in ’95.
Outlaws of the Lost Dynasty does enough to keep fighting fans interested thanks to its varied mechanics (some of which, it can be argued, were ahead of their time) and unique cast of brawlers. It won’t keep players coming back for extended periods of time but, as a curiosity that never before made it to these shores, it’s worth a look.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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