The Bouncer was the first game released by Squaresoft for the PlayStation 2 console, and launched in the U.S. on March 5, 2001. Developed by Dream Factory. At it's core the game is a beat'em up with three playable characters, Sion Barzahd, Volt Kruger, and Kou Leifou, each with their own distinct fighting styles. I mention "at it's core" because most of the game is centered around non-playable cutscenes. These were clearly intended to be the highlight of the game as many of the cutscenes last significantly longer than the gameplay sections both succeeding and proceeding them. The cutscenes can be skipped however pressing start merely pauses the cutscene and brings up a menu asking if you want to resume watching or skip it, showing clearly where the developer's intent lies. The game also features an experience system that allows each of the player characters to grow stronger and learn new moves over the course of the game. The progression of the game's plot is also dependent on which bouncer the player chooses to control during specific sections of the game.
Bouncers guard the various bars located along Dog Street overlooked by the ominous Mikado Building. Sion, Kou, and Volt are bouncers who work to protect their bar, Fate. Fifteen year old Dominique has become somewhat of a mascot for Fate ever since Sion found her lost in the city. One day Mikado Special Forces abduct Dominique and it is up to Sion, Kou, and Volt to rescue her.
Dauragon C. Mikado is the current CEO of the Mikado Corporation. Being the adopted son of a former CEO, he was trained from birth in order to perform in his current position. He is responsible for Dominique's kidnapping, and it is up for the three bouncers to find out why, and put a stop to any other plans he may have.
Gameplay and Story Progression
The game's structure follows the same pattern throughout. As a cutscene ends, the player must choose one of the three bouncers to control in the following gameplay segment, with the others controlled by the CPU. Once the gameplay segment is over, the player will receive Bouncer Points, the game's equivalent to Experience Points, which can be spent to upgrade the selected bouncer's maximum life capacity, attack and defense power, or be used to unlock special attacks. The game will then resume with another cutscene with the point of view and depiction of key events dependent on the bouncer the player controlled during gameplay.
The basic controls are the same for each bouncer:
- Square Button: Mid-level attacks
- Triangle Button: High attacks
- X Button: Low attacks
- Circle Button: Jump attacks
- L1: Triggers a special attack when pressed with one of the basic attack buttons.
- R1: Guard
- R2: Triggers a Trinity Rush attack
The Trinity Rush is a special technique only available in story mode when all three bouncers are present. During the fight, if a CPU-controlled bouncer gives a verbal cue, the R2 button can be pressed to perform a special attack with all three bouncers.
Modes of Play
Follows the stories of Sion, Volt, and Kou as they fight to rescue Dominique. Details of the storyline and the game's ending will differ depending on which characters the player chooses to control before each gameplay segment. Characters encountered in the story mode can be unlocked for use in the game's other modes.
A New Game feature that allows the player to start the story mode from the beginning with powered-up characters.
A single-player mode in which the player can select any unlocked fighter and fight through a series of waves of enemies.
The Bouncer has two forms of multiplayer. The standard versus mode allows for up to four players to participate if a PS2 multitap accessory is connected in a free-for-all battle. The second mode is a two-player team battle mode in which each player selects one player to control and two AI allies and face off with the goal of knocking out the other team's leader.
The game's developer, Dream Factory, wanted The Bouncer to be more of a beat'em up and to include destructible environments and weapons. Square was unhappy with the game, feeling that the graphics should be better and have more of a movie-like feel. Dream Factory rebuilt the game to make The Bouncer what it is today.