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Grappler Baki Tournament
Platform:  Playstation 2
# of Players:  1-2
Developer:  Tomy
Publisher:  Tomy
Features:  Vibration Compatible, Big Manly Men
Ratings:  Teen
Memory Req.:  48KB
Every system has its share of bad games, and it seems that the more powerful a system is the worse the bad games get. Japanese Playstation 2 owners have had a few disappointing releases, like Sky Surfer, Driving Emotion Type-S, and Hresvelgr, but nothing compares to Tomy's new flat, circular object chock full of computer data, Grappler Baki Tournament. I'm having a hard time actually calling this particular piece of work a game, so bear with me for a bit. I really don't know how to properly describe this one, but I'll try really hard. Mix the bad parts of both ECW games, a bit of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, the old Playstation fighter V.S., and an obscure Super Famicom game called Cho Aniki, shake well, and pop it into an old microwave for about 20 minutes. The result is an instant collector's item, if you're really desperate for stuff like this.

For starters, the game is really terrible to look at- the fighters all look like too tall versions of the old He-Man figures, and have the same points of articulation, so you'll see some kooky body positions as you're playing. It's as if talented monkeys using an incomplete version of Ascii's Fighter Maker programed the game. You'll laugh yourself silly as you look at the stiff one-piece torsos that all the fighters have. To be fair, the characters' fingers are animated separately and rather nicely, which makes for a few unusual gestures from some of the pugilists. And the game does have a bit of quickness to it, but compared to quality titles like Dead or Alive 2 and Tekken Tag, this is pretty sorry stuff. The developers threw tons of colored lighting around the arenas, and the graphics are all nice and high resolution so that the easily impressed out there will gawk and point at how smooth the game looks. But any blind man with his back turned could tell you that looks don't mean everything, and after you get over the lighting effects, this game really has nothing going for it.

Well, it does have at least 12 musclebound fighters, and you can edit their moves somewhat, but so what? This is one of those games that makes you want to take up programming just to see if you can do any better than what's on display here. If this game had come out five years ago, it would still be pretty poor. It's like re-releasing Battle Arena Toshinden and thinking people will run out and buy it. Actually, I'd probably rather buy another copy of Toshinden than pay to play GBT again.

Is GBT really that horrendous? Well, between the first-generation, simplistic character models, the awful music and sound effects, and the near total lack of decent moves, there's not very much to recommend this one at all. Unless you're really, really into watching silicon versions of grown men in tight, tight shorts and pants umm, grapple with each other. No offense, but BGT is the new reigning king of homoerotic console entertainment software, and that's the only way I can put it. Some of the grappling moves are questionable at best, and I don't think you'll want to try some of the moves you'll see at home. Half the fighters here look like guys on both hormone shots and steroids, and the rest are the sort of burly, ugly he-men that love to beat the crap out of these girly-men. One thing's for sure, you won't need to seek out move lists or any hidden characters anywhere on the Internet- chances are you won't even have the game long enough to want to finish it. Well, if you do- remember, it's a "don't ask, don't tell" world over here at Gametour- I don't ask why you bought this, and you don't tell me that you did- Comprende?

What we have here, folks, is basically an all-male version of Pretty Fighter X, or Advanced V.G., but without the appealing characters. When one of the fighters gives you the finger during the intro, and again on the character select screen, you kind of get the feeling that the developers are really giving you the finger for running out to your favorite shop and spending good money on this piece of junk. But the really funny thing is, this is just the sort of game that will become a hot collectable one day, just like another awful fighting game that everybody seems to want, Dragon Ball GT. But then again, Grappler isn't based on an anime that kids are going nuts over on a daily basis (imagine, though if it were). At best, GBT is a niche game that'll only cater to a particular crowd, and a very small one at that.

Greg Wilcox

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