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All in all, Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament is a pretty fun game. Granted, it could have used a little polish here and there. However, it has a lot of strong points that redeem the game as a whole. Fans will want to pick this one up, and will be pleased to see that there was an actual effort to make a good game for fans to buy, not just a mess that was published for the sole purpose of profit. Thank you Atari. We appreciate this.
Non-fans will of course not care for this game, as it is admittedly a rushed job, and hard to understand for people unacquainted with the show. Then again, that goes without saying. This is strictly a fan game, and in that vein, it is a success.
The most important thing to keep in mind when considering whether or not to buy this game is whether or not you are a fan of the Yu Yu Hakusho anime series. This title is complete fan service to those who like the anime, and will largely be enjoyed by these people, just be careful of the occasional cheap comeback by the computer.
But it’s a nice idea in a game that (probably) does as much justice to the cartoon series as you can expect, and while fans of ‘proper’ fighting games will overlook it – with some justification – it’s not without its merits. The visual style, special effects, damageable arenas and, we understand, proper voice actors all lend themselves to a fairly well rounded experience.
Considering the conflict-driven undertones in Yu Yu Hakusho and the series' focus on martial arts, a fighting game is just about as good a fit as you could find for bringing it to the world of video games--and the execution of Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament definitely appeals more to fans of the show than it does to fans of fighting games. So, if you're a big-time Yu Yu Hakusho fan looking to step into the shoes of Yusuke, Kuwabara, Kurama, Hiei, or any of the other notable characters from the series, you'll definitely find Dark Tournament to be a much more engaging experience than if you were just looking for a good 3D fighting game.
Coming in with variable game alternatives – 3 levels and changeable ring outs, K.Os and time outs, you can’t accuse YYH of lacking in variables. I think this and the undoubted faithful and impressive series segments will make it a good choice for the fan, or someone at the lower end of the age range (it’s a 12+ rating.) For the veteran of Virtua Fighter, or Tekken, however, it’s a sheep in wolf’s clothing.
Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament feels like an incomplete game to me, as the limited combo system and unresponsive control definitely left a feeling that more could have been done. Also, there were definitely a couple of times in my experience that the uneven AI and frustrating control scheme had me shouting quite a few expletives too at my television set. How could the enemy be so cheap, how could my foe be such a sucker, and why is my guy not doing what he's supposed to be doing were among the many arguments I had with my widescreen.
Pure fighting fans will likely find the same problems, issues, and frustrations that I did, and for that I say stay away. But if you happen to be a fan of the Yu Yu Hakusho television series and have several forgiving bones in your body, then this one could certainly be worth a rent. The presentation values are pretty solid after all, and the story mode is rather cool even if you're cursing at your controller the whole time.
Honestly, Dark Tournament isn't terrible, but it could have easily been far better. With such solid efforts as Dimps' DBZ: Budokai series on the market, it's a shame to see a title so shiny on the outside be so ugly on the inside. To a fan, if you can get over the fighting's sluggish pace, there's much nostalgia to be had. For the rest, this is one ghost file that best remains closed.
If you dig the “Yu Yu Hakusho” anime (particularly the Dark Tournament saga) then you’ll be pretty satisfied with this bare-bones PS2 brawler. Its no “Dragon Ball Z: Budokai,” but Atari/Infogrames sure knows how to cater to the American fan base of dubbed anime TV shows that play videogames. Anyone that doesn’t follow the show (or has trouble spelling the anime’s name) can safely pass on this one and rent/buy “Mortal Kombat: Deception” instead.
If you're a diehard Yu Yu Hakusho fan and must own everything based on the anime, chances are you may enjoy what Atari's put together, but fighting fans will know right away that the game is seriously lacking. It's slow, sloppy, and not much fun, and where videogames are concerned, that's a recipe for disaster.
With only eight stages, poor controls, and moderate visuals, its solid line up of 25 characters cannot save this game’s fate of falling below mediocrity. If you are a fan of the show, you may get more out of this game than I did. Not being a fan, I had to judge this purely as a fighting game, which doesn’t even measure up to some of the PS one’s fighters. This game is for Yu Yu Hakusho collectors only.