Get your 3D fighting fill with this impressive DS game.
Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight is like Power Rangers meets Yu-Gi-Oh, complete with using cards to summon Zords. The main rider summons a Red Dragon, a toy I once owned back when Power Rangers were cool (shut up!). I found myself quite engaged in the game itself, and if you want a graphically impressive DS fighter with lots of content, Kamen Rider may surprise you.
This is basically a 3D fighter with simplistic controls. X and Y are your attack buttons, B is jump, and A is special attack. You can cycle through your special attacks with the L and R buttons, and when your power gauge has filled (either naturally or by holding down L + R), you can unleash a stat boost, new weapon, or summon. This sounds incredibly simple, and it is, but there are little touches that keep things fresh. For one, you will often be holed up in a room with three other guys, and they will attack from all sides. You can tap them to change your target (which is awkward), or you can just press down and X to perform a breakdance-style kick move, knocking down everyone around you. You can also double tap in any direction to dodge in that direction, which is very useful for avoiding powerful attacks from the front and taking advantage of any lag that follows the attack.
Kamen Rider is broken into variations on this theme: mission mode, one-on-one, and what appears to be a survival run. Nothing is explained, so you’ll have to figure a lot out on your own. The instruction manual, gives you the button layout and bids you good night. Thankfully, Kamen Rider is easy to learn. You’ll unlock the majority of new content in mission mode, where you select a fighter and then start pummeling fools. Experience, new specials, and additional characters are unlocked here.
While most mission goals are as simple as “kill everybody before the timer runs out,” you’ll start getting more complex goals in no time, such as defeating your opponent with a summon or other special attack. Mission mode sort of resembles the same mode in the Soulcalibur series, but without the dumb story. In fact, Kamen Rider seems to lack any sort of plot, which is probably a positive.
The game looks incredible; better than most N64 fighters, in fact. The character models are large and impressively detailed, and are animated smoothly. Despite having four or five characters onscreen at once, I never experienced slowdown. Backgrounds are static images, but they rotate to give the illusion of depth. Happily, both the Kamen Riders and their enemies are quite different. Although a few pallette swaps are present, for the most part they are quite distinct (you will end up fighting way too many “Red Minions,” though). The sound, however, is noticeably obnoxious. The same faux-metal tune plays throughout most of the game, and your character’s phrases are terrible. One guy, who doesn’t even have a sword, says “I’ll cut you!” all the time. Sure, you can use a special attack to give him a sword, but it's still a cringeworthy oversight.
The game is surprisingly goal-oriented, doling out new special attacks and characters at a steady clip. You can play through the mission mode with every character, although no differences are apparent in the layout—you do this for the special unlockables. What’s really unfortunate is that Kamen Rider features no multiplayer of any kind, whether local or online. You’d think that the appeal of mixing and matching special attacks to fit your own play style would be a natural fit for multiplayer, but unfortunately that isn't the case.
Kamen Rider is an excellent solo fighter. While it lacks a multiplayer component, it's technically impressive and full of content. It’s definitely worth checking out.