Last Bronx

lastbronx

Saturn, August 1997 (Japan)

First off, if you’re curious about what Last Bronx is, or why it’s cool, check out this incredibly definitive article about the game over at Hardcore Gaming 101.

OK done? Cool. I’m going to talk a bit about the Japanese Saturn version, which I recently acquired for 20 yen (yes, about 20 cents) at Super Potato in Akihabara.

The game sports some pretty great packaging, full of goodies.

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On the back of the poster is a move list, and on the back of the manual is a pretty cute illustration.

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As for the game itself, it’s a fast, fun, and creative fighter and, like many Saturn games, relatively unknown in the west (despite an English release).

Last Bronx is a weapons-based fighter that sports a small, but distinct, cast of playable characters. It’s full of lovely 90s-anime style art and takes place in a decrepit “199X” Tokyo- an aesthetic that sold me on the game immediately.

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Although Last Bronx uses the three-button “punch-kick-guard” control scheme of Virtua Fighter, LB feels closer to something like Soul Calibur in its speed and newbie-friendliness.

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While the game (generally) runs at a solid 60 frames per second, this results in some visual compromises. Occasionally characters flicker, fall apart, or sometimes even completely disappear (though this rarely affects matches).

In an interesting contrast to the “purity” of Virtua Fighter 2’s  world, Last Bronx is chock full of product placement.  Here are some of the instances I spotted:

Suzuki

Suzuki

Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines

Crystal Geyser

Crystal Geyser

109 Department Store

109 Department Store

Java Tea and Sonic the Hedgehog

Java Tea and Sonic the Hedgehog

The Japanese Saturn version of Last Bronx also includes a “Special” disc. I expected it to be filled with movies, an art gallery, and maybe a radio drama, but I was somewhat surprised to find that it mostly consists of training tips. What makes this cool is the (interactive) training videos are all “hosted” by chibi versions of the game’s characters.

IMG_2556[1]The videos are super charming, and also pretty helpful!

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Last Bronx is definitely not the most well-remembered fighter on the Saturn in the west. It’s overshadowed by Virtua Fighter, the 2D Capcom releases, and probably even Fighting Vipers. However, AM3’s only fighter is a fast, newbie-friendly, and aesthetically “cool” fighter full of character and charm that is still well-worth playing today.

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