home > review > archive > Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament
GamesFirst! Online since 1995

|| Get Prices

Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament
game: Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament
three star
posted by: Eric Qualls
publisher: Atari
developer: Digital Fiction
ESRB rating: T (Teen)
date posted: 12:00 AM Sun Oct 24th, 2004
last revision: 12:00 AM Sun Oct 24th, 2004

Unlimited Game Rentals Delivered - Free Trial

Yu Yu Hakusho is a lot like Dragon Ball Z.  The main difference is that there is a whole lot more fighting and a lot less screaming about power levels in Yu Yu Hakusho.  Both series focus on groups of powerful fighters taking on all comers and that is why they both would seemingly translate very well into a fighting videogame.  Much like DBZ's Budokai games, though, Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament focuses more on fan service than being a solid fighter.  The result is a game that is just playable enough that fans will like it, but not a good enough fighting game to appeal to anyone else.  

 The story follows a young student named Yusuke and his friends as they work their way through the Dark Tournament.  Similar to the DBZ games, events that took dozens of episodes to play out on the show are shrunk down into bite sized chunks for the game.  Since this game follows a fairly specific period in the show, if you aren't already a fan of Yu Yu Hakusho this game isn't for you simply because you won't know what the heck is going on.  If you are reading this review you are likely already a fan of the show so there isn't really any reason to spell out all of the little details such as the fact that Yusuke died in the first episode and became a demon fighting spirit detective who enters the Dark Tournament to do battle with the evil Toguro brothers.  And if you aren't already a fan, then that long sentence likely confused and frightened you.  If that is the case, go find another game because Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament isn't for you.

The fighting in Dark Tournament is pretty simplistic.  Basically, it plays just like every other fighting game except for the fact that the commands for different attacks aren't like anything you are used to.  After years of playing Street Fighter II and every other fighter after it, I expect to accomplish something when I press quarter-circle down to forward + punch.  That isn't the case in Dark Tournament, and instead moves are performed by simply holding one directional button and then pressing an attack button.  Some attacks even make you press two buttons at once.  Man, that is complicated.  While the moves are easy to perform, executing them this way can hardly be described as intuitive.  You can't figure stuff out on your own like you can in other fighting games.  Combos are even worse.  You have no room for improvisation and can only pull off combos by inputting a long series of commands that the game teaches you in the training mode.  The results are usually spectacular, but playing this way is just boring.  Also, blocking is way too freaking effective.  You can literally stop everything an opponent can throw at you.  This means that every match is just a bunch of turtling back and forth.  Yawn.

There is also a little minigame in Dark Tournament that makes up its own mode.  As you fight through the story mode, you unlock tokens that represent different characters on the show.  You use these tokens on a hexagonal playing field that has several fan? tokens already placed on it.  Your tokens have a fan requirement stat, so you can only play one if the minimum number of fan tokens are around the particular spot you wish to place it.  Each token has an attack rating, and the point of the game is to place your tokens in such a way that you have strong tokens up against your opponents' weak ones so your tokens will win the fights? and you control the board.  The game is kind of difficult to learn (and difficult to explain, can you tell?) but it is actually kind of fun and is arguably better than the fighting aspect of Dark Tournament.  It is sort of like a combination of chess and a collectible card game and it works pretty well.  The playing field is a bit small, but since the fan tokens are placed randomly for each match it makes for a fun little distraction. 

Graphically, Dark Tournament fails to impress.  The environments lack detail and look really bland.  They are meant to look like locales from the show, but they do a pretty poor job.  The characters are cel-shaded and look enough like their series counterparts that you'll recognize them, but don't look great by any means.  For the most part, the animation is pretty smooth, which helps make the game look acceptable instead of just crappy.  

The sound, on the other hand, is pretty good.  The entire US voice cast for Yu Yu Hakusho has recorded new material for Dark Tournament and it sounds great and is sure to please fans.  A lot of the sound effects and music have been taken from the show and they sound great as well.

The bottom line is that if you are a fan of Yu Yu Hakusho, you will like this game.  The whole point behind a licensed title is to be able to recreate your favorite aspects of that license and Dark Tournament lets you do that.  The fighting engine is far from great- I would rank it below even the simplistic original DBZ Budokai- but once you learn everything you'll be firing off Spirit Guns like nobody else.  The story mode is actually really well put together and fans will really enjoy being able to relive the classic battles.  Fighting game fans already have enough to play this holiday season, so let the kiddies and fans of the show play Dark Tournament because it definitely isn't the greatest fighting game ever.  Give it a rent if you are interested.