The original Power Stone was one of those games that petered out a little too quickly. The Japanese release was well timed, but the US release coincided with the Dreamcast's launch, pitting it against games like Soul Calibur and Ready 2 Rumble Boxing. This made Power Stone an easy game to overlook, as its charm made for short-term excitement. Power Stone 2 adds longevity to an already solid formula by bringing the concepts of four-player mayhem to an already crazy fighting engine. The result is a game you will either love, because of its sheer gameplay insanity, or hate, because you won't be able to locate your character in the middle of all the action.
The story of Power Stone 2 places the crew of fighters (enhanced by the addition of four new characters and two hidden characters) in a castle from which they're trying to escape. The only way out is through several wild fighting levels, including two boss fights. While the levels in the original Power Stone were pretty cool, the backgrounds are definitely the real stars of Power Stone 2. What makes the backgrounds so incredible? Interactivity. One level has you carry on the battle while you run away from a gigantic Indiana Jones-style rolling boulder. Along the run you can pick up a skateboard and use it to stay ahead of the boulder while trying to trip up your opponents so that they are crushed. Another level puts you on top of two submarines. As they occasionally submerge and resurface, you'll have to hop back and forth between the two boats. The tops of the subs have turrets that you can man, and one even has a little hovership that lets you float around above the surface and drop bombs on the fighters below.
The graphics are roughly the same as the original Power Stone's, but since you're seeing more fighters onscreen, the characters are a little smaller. Also, because of the wild backgrounds, the action moves along at a much faster pace. But even though the game is even more action-packed than the original, the backgrounds add a lot of strategy to the game. Now, you don't simply hop around small levels kicking each other in an attempt to collect all three power stones. Now you've got to think about where you're going to land, as well as which harmful obstacle you can knock your enemy into next. There is so much going on in a four-player battle that collecting the power stones takes a backseat to just constantly beating up one of the other three characters.
As you might imagine, Power Stone 2 looks just about as good on the Dreamcast as it does in the arcade, thanks to your friend and mine, the Naomi hardware. But the Dreamcast version has lots of other little extras that add some longevity to the game. In one mode, you'll earn items and money as you play the game. You can then go to a shop and use the money to purchase even more items, and you can also attempt to combine two of your items (by tossing them into a large, mystical furnace) to create a third, new item. Some combinations are better than others, of course, and certain mixtures will simply net you a twisted hunk of useless metal. The whole process is similar to the combination options in games like Monster Rancher and Persona. The game also contains a versus mode that lets you set up various team battles or free-for-alls, as well as an online component that connects you to the Power Stone 2 home page.
Fans of the original Power Stone will be pleased with the similar, yet definitely enhanced feel of Power Stone 2. Even with only two players, it's still a lot of fun, plus the game is significantly more balanced than its predecessor. As a four-player game, it's definitely one of the wildest fighters to come to the Dreamcast.