Yusha: Heaven’s Gate
Getting Yusha into the shops has not been an easy task for poor old JVC. Originally programmed in 1995 in Japan and known as Heaven’s Gate, all sorts of translation problems delayed the UK release of the game until early 1997.
Then, in March, another unforeseen problem cropped up when Marshall Applewhite convinced 38 of his followers in the Heaven’s Gate cult to ingest lethal doses of Phenobarbital in preparation for the recycling of Earth.
JVC’s adverts, game manuals, packaging, logos and everything else pertaining to the Heaven’s Gate game had to be scrapped and entirely redesigned with the new title, Yusha (“Brave Warrior”).
All these delays have not left this early beat-’em-up in an advantageous position against the more recently produced Soul Blades and Tobal 2s available today – it looks old when you load it up. The fighting arenas are covered with big, brash blocks of colour across the ground and ceiling, reminiscent of a time when 3-D fighting games were new. And it sends a chill down the spine to lay eyes on a collection of eight fighters who remind you more of Toshinden than Tobal with their twitching hips and all round lack of motion capture fluidity.
Once you get past that oldie appearance though, you find a beat-’em-up which is not outstanding, but still acceptable. The number of combatants available doubles once you’ve completed the game with the first eight characters, and the feel of the fighting is very like the Toshinden series especially with all the impossibly powerful magic-assisted moves.
The action is fast and lively; using a system similar to Virtua Fighter. Defend, punch and kick are on three separate buttons and more adventurous variations of each being triggered by short, snappy presses on the directional pad followed by an attack button. Many of the simple moves you may have learned before will get you through until you pick up Yusha’s own peculiarities (tapping forward twice and then the kick button will usually result in some kind of flying kick, for example).
Consistently beating on someone, whether a human opponent or a computer-controlled adversary, will add to your magic power gauge. When this hits the top of the on-screen guage your combatant goes off like a champagne bottle, bursting into a super powerful battle mode accompanied by a pulsing anime energy orb that consumes your body for a second and leaves your arms blazing away on fire! For the short time it takes the power to burn up, a new series of special moves are unlocked that can help you devastate the other guy in seconds.
When both players achieve this state, Yusha turns into quite a spectacle. At times there are so many swirling beams of plasma and fire, as the players summon their paranormal powers, you begin peering through the pyrotechnics expecting to see Jean Michelle Jarre bursting into one of his “classics” at any second.
However, rage meters are nothing new anymore. Neither is anything, in fact, that you will find in Yusha. Except perhaps for Dulffer’s ability to cling to the ceiling for a few seconds to attack from above! Toshinden 2 has all those glowing magical moves, and the ringouts. Soul Blade has the weapons and radically better graphics.
Both Tobal games give you true back and forth, left and right three-dimensional motion that Yusha lacks, and the latest Street Fighter brings the most tried and tested fighting system of all time to a superb 3-D environment. As you can imagine, Yusha is fairly average now that it’s finally appeared, but there’s absolutely no space for it when there’s so much else on offer to beat-’em-up fans and new adoptees. Released two years ago, Yusha would have been acceptable. But not now…