It's a little odd that we're reviewing a game that appears to have been out in the US for almost a full year, but seeing as the nice Atari PR guy sent us the game, it's only polite that we treat it like any other. Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament is a videogame of the popular cartoon (I can't say the name rings any bells myself) and brings the one vs. one fighting seen in the show to the PlayStation 2.
The most impressive part of the game is the rather authentic visuals. From the research I carried out, scouring the internet for some pictures of the TV show, it's clear that the game looks great. All the characters and environments look brilliant, as do super moves, but the presentation is let down by some pretty poor animation. It's a shame, but fans of the series will probably still appreciate the detail in the characters.
Audio is also good, with the voice actors from the TV show voicing the characters in the game. While I'd love to say that this is brilliantly authentic to the show, I can't say for certain as I've never seen it, but it sounds perfectly suited to the game and characters. The sound effects and music in the game also fit well with the action, rounding off some impressively solid presentation.
If games were all about presentation, Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament would score pretty well, but, unfortunately, that isn't the case. The controls have some serious issues that could well ruin your enjoyment of the game. Special moves are incredibly hard to pull off, with the game seemingly ignoring your button combinations. It takes a lot of practice to learn the moves and even then you can't execute them as easily as you'd like. Combos are equally problematic, often doing more harm than good. Combo moves can't be broken out of, momentarily taking all control away from you. Your opponent can then take you out with a few small combos of his own, with you hammering the controller's buttons in the hope that you'll gain some control before it's too late.
The game offers the usual modes seen in a fighter, the most interesting to fans being the two story modes. Here you'll play through a number of chapters, performing various tasks, and are rewarded with actual clips from the TV show. The gameplay still suffers from the problems with the combat system, but this is by far the most entertaining part to the game.
Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament clearly has a specific audience in mind and for its fans, the game at least delivers on the presentation front. Kids obsessed with the cartoon will no doubt enjoy playing as their favourite characters, but even the most novice gamer will begin to see the deficiencies in the combat system after prolonged play. Die hard fans can rent the game knowing that they'll be able to appreciate the quality of presentation, but everyone else should stay well clear.