Asura is pissed. His wife was murdered; his daughter kidnapped, imprisoned and used. Plus, his skin is really dry. And I have to say, this demigod was not exactly Mr. Sunshine before all that. Do you need this kind of drama? I suppose if you like a moody gentleman with a rockin’ bod, tattoos and six arms, then yes. Yes, you do. Especially if you’re into anime.
Asura’s Wrath (Capcom; $59.99) is an experimentation in what else this media could be. In fact, I’m not sure game is the right category to put this product in—it’s more of an interactive anime. The game is original and beautiful, the art style is breathtaking, and the action moments and fight scenes are incredible. It plays in ten-minute chapters, which require you to watch cut scenes, punch stuff and then erupt into massive violence that takes the form of context-sensitive button presses that play something like this: Giant Bloody Elephant Creature is in your way, and it tells you to push both joysticks outwards to make Asura strike a muscle-revealing pose before he rushes at the monster, fist extended. Then it tells you to hit X to bounce off a wall for momentum and then bang on O to land a multitude of lighting punches, before it tells you to hit the triangle button to dramatically finish the demon. The episode ends in an animated series of cards which bridges the story and then provides a “Next on” video, teasing you with the next chapter. It’s not really much of a game in terms of strategy and play, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.
The story is classic anime fare with a Buddhist slant. Asura is not an adept conversationalist and doesn’t much like anyone. If he were one of the seven dwarves, I would dub him Grumpy. In fact, all of the characters are well-designed stereotypes: the brooding, sensitive one; the crazy one; the loving girl; the lusty woman; the strange old man; they’re all there. This is not a weakness; it is a welcome to fans of anime, like the hero’s quest in RPGs, or the search for redemption in westerns. The world is unique and original, the monsters are bloody and grotesque, and the story epic. The game lasts about six hours, and you can replay any of the chapters again.
Asura’s Wrath is interactive entertainment perfect for lovers of anime and gaming neophytes; it’s dramatic, dynamic and face-exploding. It is easy to play and hard to put down, and the ten-minute chapters make it easily digestible. Sixty dollars is a steep price for six hours, but when the price drops, I would recommend taking Asura and his sexy male companion for a ride.
Frag Dean is a podcaster on Silly Frags, available on iTunes, Sticher and sillyfrags.com.