Plasma Sword / Star Gladiator 2
  
       
  
STORY:  In the epic battle of the Final Crusade that occurred from last year, Hayato Kanzaki had slayed the evil Dr. Edward Bilstein and brought the end of the Fourth Empire's terror and destruction throughout the entire galaxy. The fall of the Fourth Empire and the death of its leader were momentous occasions of last year and it signaled the restoration of peace and happiness, but all is not well in the galaxy.
Rumors have been circulating about the unexpected return of Bilstein in a new cybernetic body, as well as the appearance of a ghost who eerily looks like Bilstein's old cybernetic body. At the same time, the Fourth Empire has taken the opportunity in rebuilding its forces and the loyal members of the organization are determined to carry out Bilstein's will of eliminating those that stand in the way of their master's galaxy conquest.


Hayato, June, Saturn, and Gamof realize that the threat of Bilstein is far from over and that the four of them must head back into combat in order to defeat Bilstein and the Fourth Empire once and for all. However, the quartet is not alone in their second struggle as they have new friends to assist them in the matter, including the strong war soldier Gantetsu; former enemy turned ally Zelkin; the aspiring hero Eagle; and a mysterious young girl named Ele. Hayato and his friends will find themselves heading back into the hard ordeal as Star Gladiators, Fourth Empire members, and neutral parties will be thrust into a war that will determine the fate of not only the Earth, but the entire galaxy. The Nightmare of Bilstein has now begun...

 

Kind of a sloppy character selection screen for a Capcom fighting game.

  
REVIEWPlasma Sword: Nightmare of Bilstein (known as Star Gladiator 2 in Japan) is the sequel to Star Gladiator, one of Capcom's first ventures into the 3D fighting game genre. While the original was released on Namco's System 11 Arcade Board and then ported to the Sony Playstation, Plasma Sword was released on Namco's improved System 12 Arcade board and then ported to the Sega Dreamcast in the year 2000.


All characters from the original Star Gladiator make their return (with the exception of Rimgal and Kappah) in Plasma Sword. Fourteen new characters join the veteran Star Gladiators, each with his or her own unique storyline. However, ten of the newcomers can easily be dubbed as "palette swaps," since they share the exact same fighting styles, special moves and Plasma Fields of the the original cast... but they do have their own unique Plasma Strikes, at least.

 

Hayato also has those colors in MVC2!

 

Plasma Sword
features much faster gameplay than the prequel, and nearly feels like a completely new game. The game features 4-button layout, 2 buttons for weapon attack, 1 for kick, and 1 for guard. Unique to the series, characters can perform a damaging skill called a Plasma Field. With the use of one super meter, the character who activates it will emit a sphere of energy. If the move connects, the playing field will be temporarily boxed in by four invisible walls, making escape from the Plasma Field effects difficult. The effects of the skill vary with each character, ranging to infinite Plasma Strikes, growing to gigantic sizes, and even stopping time. If a character raises their Super Gauge to level 3, they can then perform super moves called Plasma Strikes.


Plasma Sword's Arcade Mode features 8 stages. Players will encounter a mid-boss at Stage 5 which advances the story of their chosen character. At the final stage, players face a specific final boss depending on their character. Additionally, players will either see a false ending or true ending of the character depending on how many Battle Ability points they've obtained. If a player obtains the required amount of Battle Ability points, they'll fight another opponent (the "true" final boss) and can view a character's true ending.

 

Visually, a far cry from Soul Calibur on Dreamcast.

 

Graphically, Plasma Sword is an improvement over the original. Character models are sharper and more detailed, but the stages are actually flatter and less "3D-looking" than the prequel's. In my opinion, the background environments are very bland... consisting of only a 2D background image and rotating 3D floor (a recipe that was definitely getting old by the time Plasma Sword was released). The cool "Capcom style" artwork used in-game is very well done, but unfortunately it's displayed at a pretty low resolution (complete with jaggy edges). Overall, Plasma Sword can't hold a candle to other recent fighting games in terms of graphics, presentation, or gameplay (especially against the recent iteration of Soul Calibur on Dreamcast).


FUN FACT:
Several Star Gladiator / Plasma Sword characters made appearances in other Capcom fighting games as both playable characters and cameos.

Page Updated: December 20th, 2020
Developer(s): Capcom
Publisher(s): Capcom
Designer(s): Satsuma Ikeda   Director
Takayoshi Terada   Director
Hiro   Lead Programmer
Shoei   Title Design
Artwork by: Bengus, Daichan, MCF, Inoda Keigo
Platform(s): Arcade, Dreamcast
Release Date(s): 1999   Arcade
2000 
    Dreamcast
Characters Hayato Kanzaki, B. Hayato, June Lin Milliam, Ele, Rain, Bilstein, Blood, Byakko, Gamof, Gerelt, Gore, G. Bilstein, Zelkin, Vector, Saturn, Prince, Omega, Luca, Eagle, Shaker, Gantetsu, Claire, Rai-on

Featured Video:

Related Games: Star Gladiator, Street Fighter EX, Street Fighter EX2, Street Fighter EX3, Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi, Bloody Roar 2, Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring, Final Fight Revenge, Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition, Soul Calibur, Tekken Tag Tournament, Marvel VS Capcom 2, Mortal Kombat Gold, Power Stone, Power Stone 2
  

Gameplay Engine  6.5 / 10
Story / Theme  7.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  6.0 / 10
Animation  6.5 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  6.0 / 10
Innovation  6.0 / 10
Art Direction  8.5 / 10
Customization  5.0 / 10
Options / Extras  5.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  6.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  5.0 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  5.5 / 10
Characters  6.5 / 10
BOTTOM LINE

 6.5 / 10

 Review based on Dreamcast version     

 

Final Words:

Like the original Star Gladiator on PS1, Plasma Sword was an ambitious title by Capcom and perhaps ahead of its time, conceptually. While the charismatic characters and futuristic theme has plenty of charm (and Star Wars references), Plasma Sword falls short when compared to many other fighting games from the era especially on Dreamcast.

Plasma Sword's gameplay is easy to get into, but it's also a bit clunky. If you give the full roster of characters a chance, the game can be fun. Plasma Sword's vibrant art direction definitely shines a positive light on the sci-fi character designs, and they're definitely some of Capcom's most obscure and interesting. However, the game definitely doesn't have the replayability of other recent 2D / 3D fighters. 

Sadly, the in-game character models are still looking pretty blocky-looking on Dreamcast, and the boring / flat 3D stages don't do compliment the game's visual appearance, either. Sega's Dreamcast was capable of far more impressive visuals at the time (just look at Soul Calibur). If you picked up SoulCalibur at the Dreamcast launch like I did, it's difficult to not be disappointed by how Plasma Sword looks and performs. However, it was more impressive that Mortal Kombat Gold, I can tell you that.

If Capcom took their time and put a little more polish into this game, I think it would've shined. At the least, Plasma Sword offered something respectably different and "original" in the fighting genre at the time. Seeing Capcom's take on Star Wars-inspired characters might be worth the price of admission alone.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen
 
 

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