Last Bronx

Last Bronx's two player game is one of the finest ever to grace the Saturn.

Publisher: Sega
Developer: AM3
Genre: Fighting

Although Sega's AM2 research & development department has hogged the limelight for the '90s, AM3 is steadily gaining ground. If Last Bronx is any indication, its going to be real hot by the end of the millenium.

Essentially Virtua Fighter 2 with weapons and a cage, Last Bronx differentiates itself by being the finest example of down and dirty attitude in the fighting genre. You've got eight characters, all members of rival gang/law enforcement organizations, and your job is to beat the crap out of all of them. Unlike Virtua Fighter 2, the fights aren't elegant. They're brutal. Zaimoku's most powerful moves, for example, consist of smashing a hammer on his opponent's unprotected head, taking a third health off. It's not your dad's 3D fighter, but it might be yours.

The gameplay is essentially the same as Virtua Fighter 2, with the same controls, but a smaller number of moves. It's a step forward and back in the fighting game genre. Rolling toward an opponent adds an interesting new twist to the match, but the lack of 3D movement betrays its older heritage. If you're a big fan of Fighter's Megamix, then you might find it hard to move to Last Bronx.

Last Bronx's two player game is one of the finest ever to grace the Saturn, but single player and practice modes are significantly flawed. The opponent AI is entirely too predictable, and moderately skilled players will be able to scoot through all eight characters in less than ten minutes, especially in the US version.

The obscure training modes in the original Japanese version has been reduced to a slighly unintuitive "try me" mode. In the standard mode, you're free to pummel a dummy character as your movements are mapped at the bottom of the screen. In combo training mode, you're given a move to try, and you're stuck practicing it until you can perform it. It looks like training modes are taking a step backwards -- first with the lousy mode in Dead or Alive, and now in Last Bronx. Whatever happened to the cool interface in Fighters Megamix? Heck, even Anarchy in the Nippon's training mode is better than this. Don't get me wrong. Last Bronx is a great game. Lots of moves, good graphics, great ambiance make it a real blast to play. And the Sega of America developers made an almost flawless transision from a Japanese to US version. Almost.