ZeiramZone (Japan)

Year: 1996
Platform: PlayStation
Developer: Banpresto
Genre: Action
Rating: **

I knew there was a SNES game based on the "Iria" anime series, but I had no idea there was also a PlayStation game based in the "Zeiram" universe. Similar to the live action movies, bounty hunter Iria is transported to a series of "zones" that are teeming with monsters and biological weapons. Each mission ends with a mini-boss fight that results in the capture and containment of Iria's quarry. I'm assuming that Zeiram himself is the final boss, but I never made it that far.

Whereas "Hyper Iria" was a 2D side-scrolling shooter, "ZeiramZone" is a 3D fighting game. Iria herself is a rather unattractive 3D polygonal model whose design is a cross between the animated Iria and the live action Iria. Both she and her partner Bob are fully voiced (which is unusual), and it sounds like the anime voice actors were used. The zones themselves are rendered in 3D, but they're rather crude and simplistic. However, since that was twenty years ago, it's hard to recall what the actual state of the art was. Even though the environments are 3D, Iria is mostly restricted to 2D movement. She fights with light and heavy punches and kicks, and can duck and jump. A sidestep feature allows her to move on the Z-axis, but there's only one layer of depth. This becomes extremely aggravating when trying to navigate obstacles, because you can't simply run past them in a logical way. The fighting is pretty smooth for the most part, but Iria often gets turned around and ambushed from behind. Defensive moves and special moves are difficult to pull off, so most fights end up being a button-mashing exercise of Iria's basic attacks. The game is made up of six zones and is refreshingly short. Unfortunately, I only made it through the first two zones before the game become too frustrating to continue.