What, in the name of Yomi, does it take to keep decency and thought in an anime-to-game tie-in? Is there some kind of Isaac Newton agenda that says “for every good adaptation, there must be a bad? Was Newton a Taoist? And what of the children? Hm? Did anyone once think about the children?
Yu Yu Hakusho was my Toonami palate-cleanser after school and between several other animes. Hakusho was the first show that demonstrated to me that the side characters could be more varied and interesting than the one in the spotlight. Hiei and Kurama were endlessly fascinating to me while the main bad guys introduced my young mind to several new ideas that other animes just didn’t seem to have the capacity to do.
And so let me lampoon this game and the mockery it brings upon the Urameshi house. Yu YU Hakusho: Dark Tournament feels like an awkward, ugly, crumbled shell of a fighting game that offers nothing of value for fans, which would’ve been the main audience in the PlayStation 2 era. Yes, the PS2 had Wii-levels of shovelware, but what makes this feel so base and toxic is the shear viscosity of the gameplay. In unbiased form, this is a fighting game that sets you with Team Urameshi in what’s probably the most widely-known storyline, The Dark Tournament. And the positive sprinkle I can add first is that the ripped-from-the-DVD story scenes would be friendly to any newcomer to the series who wants to know who’s doing what and why.
The s***storm of a fighting construct doubles the vision in confusion. Fights are completely unbalanced and will either see you crushed or victorious in glorious fashion. You will never feel comfortable in a match regardless of which way the scale goes because attacks can do amazing amounts of damage to where I couldn’t survive out the time limit if I tried. Another factor there is the mini-game elements take the place of several fights (ex: the Knife-Edge Death Match is the worst rock, paper, scissors simulator I’ve ever seen) and pour salt on any available fighting roots. Even when you feel determined to win – bless you child – you’re tested by time and loading screens as the game sports some extremely long examples of the vortex from the fourth-dimension.
There’s simply nothing but trash and fire where a string of fighting game design should be, a string of burning decisions that cause migraines when thought about too long. Yu Yu hakusho: Dark Tournament fills out a roster of eclectic demons and humans and makes them feel the exact same as fighters this side of their special moves. Nearly everyone has the same range and general “1,2,3” combos – except for Elder Toguro. He will end you in record time and has plans to burn your family tree while he’s at it. Seriously, there’s no cheaper boss for my money available in a game. He’s an unavoidable Cat Mario obstacle with a paint job.
I mentioned the roster, and it does include basically every character from this story arc. The sounds and voices are all there too so you’ll get at least some of the lower-level fireworks the show could deliver. The only modes are standard fighting and tag fighting and more fighting; Token Mode is a different name for fighting. Tokens are gained by playing through story mode, which, by-the-by, clocks in under 3 hours with a lonnnggg stretch of death at the end.
Posh and bother, I say, as I put Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament into a coffin and send it to a Viking-style funeral. Grab up the way better (but worse looking) Spirit Detective on Gameboy, import the hell out of Forever from Japan, or make a flipbook with your little brother providing sound effects. Do what you must to keep this one away from your hands and eyes.
Yu Yu Hakusho Dark Tournament Score