Bloody Roar Fans Unleash the Beast Within
In the summer of 1997, noted video game publishing company Hudson Soft came together with Raizing (Now known as Eighting) to create a fighting game where fighters would make use of sudden and drastic transformations into anthropomorphic animal fighters.
Its name was Beastorizer, but by the time it was ported to the Playstation 1 in 1998, it was widely known as Bloody Roar. Bloody Roar as a fighting game was largely similar to games like Tekken and Dead or Alive, but the transformation mechanic allowed for a degree of strategy unique to the series, as in beast form the characters would have access to more movesets and combos.
The story that connects each installation of Bloody Roar is that of the Zoanthropes, humans with the ability to transform into bestial forms and are considered half human, half animal. Most of the time this ability is natural, bestowed upon certain humans by the spirit of the earth itself, but a company known as the Tylon Corporation has discovered that through experimentation people can be turned into zoanthropes artificially.
The Bloody Roar Story Contains Many Characters
In the first Bloody Roar, Yugo Ogami, a teenager with the ability to transform into a wolf, is looking for answers regarding the death of his father, Yuji.
Yugo’s father was a mercenary who supposedly went missing in South Africa, but according to Alan Gadou, Yuji’s friend and squad mate, they were attacked by a group of incredibly powerful zoanthropes that had been enhanced and brainwashed by the Tylon corporation.
This sets off an investigation into missing children and experimentations, and eventually leads to the collapse of the Tylon Corporation.
In addition to Yugo, Gadou is also a zoanthrope, with the ability to turn into a lion. Other characters in the first Bloody Roar include Alice Tsukagami, a girl who was kidnapped and experimented on by the Tylon Corporation. She was turned into a rabbit zoanthrope, but managed to escape before succumbing to brainwashing.
There is also Jin Long, a Chinese assassin who is hateful of his ability to turn into a tiger and was recruited by Tylon to kill. These are largely recurring characters who reappear in pretty much every Bloody Roar installation.
Bloody Roar 2 and the Aftermath of the Tylon Corporation
In Bloody Roar 2, it has been five years since the fall of the fall of the Tylon Corporation, and five years since zoanthropes were revealed to the world. Because of the shock and fear resulting from the zoanthrope revelation, zoanthropes the world over united to form the ZLF, the Zoanthrope Liberation Front, which looks to spread peace between humans and zoanthropes.
But as it turns out the iron-fisted leader of the ZLF, Shenlong, is running the group more like a terrorist faction. The sequel follows Yugo as well as Alice and Gadou as they attempt to take down the group.
New gameplay features include the addition of the Beast Drive. Normally as a player fights and takes damage they build up their Beast Gauge, which allows them to turn into their Beast Form for a limited time.
The Beast Drive can only be activated in Beast Form, and uses up all of the Gauge in exchange for a powerful super attack. There were also additional tweaks to the guard system, and the ability to break opponents’ guards.
New characters in Bloody Roar 2 include Uriko Nonomura, who actually appeared in the previous Bloody Roar as a boss character. The experimentation has left her beast form weakened, and she can only turn into more of a catgirl than a cat.
Similarly, Jenny Burtory is another zoanthrope that only partially transforms, gaining only bat wings and ears when her beast form is active. There’s no canonical reason for this, and the game only suggests that she may be another failed experiment or an actual ageless vampire.
The primary antagonist character is Shenlong, who turns out to be a clone of tiger zoanthrope Jin Long, engineered by Hajime Busuzima, a chameleon zoanthrope and former scientist for the Tylon Corporation.
Bloody Roar Comes to Playstation 2 with Bloody Roar 3
Bloody Roar 3 introduced Hyper Beast forms, which are stronger versions of the Beast forms but are only available for about 12 seconds. It also introduced Air Cancels, a mechanic found in many fighting games where when a player has been knocked into the air and is recovering, their opponent can use a move to block their recovery and continue attacking using air combos.
The roster from Bloody Roar 2 makes a comeback (Including Shenlong who apparently killed himself in the previous game), with the addition of three new characters. Xion, known as Xion the Unborn, is a man seeking out an artifact known as the Tabula of a Thousand Beasts.
The plot of the third game centers around this artifact and the power it contains. Xion’s beast form is The Unborn, a creature that resembles a humanoid robotic insect more than any other animal.
Another character is Koryu, known as Koryu the Iron Mole. Koryu is a cybernetic assassin based off of the original Bakuryu from the first Bloody Roar. That Bakuryu was a mole zoanthrope and died as a result of Tylon experimentation that caused his cells to dissolve.
His mantle was taken up by his student, who would also go by Bakuryu and later Kenji, and was also a mole zoanthrope. Koryu, then, was created from the remains of Bakuryu and programmed with a burning hatred of Bakuryu/Kenji.
The final unlockable character is known as Uranus the Chimera. Uranus has almost no connection to the story, but it’s implied that this is what would’ve happened to Uriko if she had stayed with Tylon. She turns into a monstrous beast that is incredibly powerful, and as a result playing as her is banned in most Bloody Roar competitive tournaments.
The fourth Bloody Roar is Not Bloody Roar 4, but Bloody Roar: Primal Fury
Known as Bloody Roar: Extreme in Japan, this edition was somewhat of an aesthetic reboot to the series, revamping the various outfits available to the fighters, almost all of which were returners from Bloody Roar 3. Primal Fury also tweaked the Hyper Beast mode a bit, allowing players to transform at any time, but at the cost of some of their health if their Beast Gauge wasn’t full.
Two new players were added to the roster, Ganesha the elephant and Cronos the Penguin. Cronos is the prince of a newly established kingdom of zoanthropes and is their best fighter.
His penguin form was actually chosen because of a fan poll, but turns into a phoenix-like creature in his hyper mode. Ganesha is actually Cronos’ bodyguard, but his reasons for eventually fighting him in-game are that Ganesha blames Cronos for the destruction of a village several years ago.
The plot of Primal fury centers around this zoanthrope kingdom, and while it appears to be a haven for them, there are seedier things going on under the surface.
Bloody Roar 4 is the Most Recent Iteration.
Bloody Roar 4 was released in 2003 and takes place a couple years after the events of Bloody Roar 3. Xion, possessed by the spirit of the Unborn, attacks a temple that was holding the spirit of a dragon.
This dragon is supposed to be a weapon for the spirit of the earth, Gaia, to use against forces that may threaten it. It was released during the attack and needed to be sealed again to protect the world, and was sealed in a man named Ryoho. A year after this, the seal is breaking again, and the various characters throughout the Bloody Roar world are aware of the potential calamity.
As one would expect, Ryoho is a new character to the series, and has a sort of tag-team relationship with Mana, a young shrine maiden with the power of a nine-tailed fox. Ryoho can also be used on his own, and while normally Mana’s fox form takes the place of his transformation, he has the option of turning into a dragon.
Another new character is Reiji Takigawa, a member of a secret clan dedicated to protecting the temple Mana works at. Reiji is a crow zoanthrope, and inherited his power early after killing his father and fleeing his clan.
The third new addition is Nagi, known as Nagi the Spurious. Nagi gained her abilities after being stabbed by Xion during the initial attack on the temple. Somehow this gave her access to his abilities, as well as some of the abilities of the Earth Spirit.
Bloody Roar 4 tweaked the Beast Gauge once more, tying it to players’ health bars. Once a player’s health bar ran out, damage would be sustained to the Beast Gauge, decreasing the amount of time one could go into Beast Form.
Players can also charge their Beast Gauge manually during the match. Bloody Roar 4 also made use of a “Career Mode” where players would pick a character to engage in various fights to earn DNA Points, which they could spend on new moves, movesets, or fighters.
While Eighting continues to develop fighting games, Hudson was acquired by Konami around 2005, and there has been no real developments to the property since Bloody Roar 4.
Yugo Ogami appeared in DreamMix TV World Fighters, a fighting game that combines fighters from different properties, in 2003, but so far that’s been the only Bloody Roar development since the release of 4, outside of a hoax regarding the development of Bloody Roar 5.