Mapping the Spectrum of PS2 Action Games: an Insert Credit Multiplayer Project

I‘ve found myself casually joking "where’s the line between beat-em-up and musou" enough times that I‘ve begun to think about it in sincerity. The PS2 seems like a good place to start, due to its bountiful banquet of third person 3D action games of all kinds. God Hand, Bujingai, Shinobi/Nightshade, Chaos Legion, Nanobreaker, that one disc of CyGirls, Dynasty Warriors and all its family, Devil May Cry, Ikusagami, Samurai Western, Maken Shao, that Ghost Rider game, Yakuza, BeatDown: Fists of Vengeance, Yoshitsune Eiyuuden, Final Fight: Streetwise, Urban Reign, Garo, that Berserk Game, Genji: Dawn of the Samurai, Shadow of Rome, that Nightmare Before Christmas game for some reason, Blade II, BloodRayne, that one Spawn game, Red Ninja: End of Honor, Cavia’s Steamboy game, Spider-Man 2, honestly a lot of licensed games were DMC clones around that era, even that Van Helsing movie got one. Anyway, the list goes on forever.

**I thought it might be fun if we all do an Exquisite Corpse sort of project where we each add one game to this image by placing a small piece of box art on there somewhere.** I was explicitly thinking of melee games, but I feel like gun-based games that aren't explicitly "shooters" can fit the bill? Stuff like Gungrave or 10,000 Bullets? Crimson Sea 2 is like, just _barely_ on the edge imo. I dunno, I trust your judgment. But we're specifically looking for combat/action-focused games, as opposed to 3D platformers with some melee combat, for example. I'm not including games like ChainDive that take place largely on a 2D plane. Talkin' bout stuff where you walk around and smack a bunch of dudes.


_Maybe it would be better to do a two-axis compass style layout, but I couldn't think of a second axis that would be either useful or funny enough to include. Happy to make a template for that if anyone has any ideas, though!_

I like the spectrum. The spectrum makes sense to me.

Is the intention that we edit the image and reupload it?

Something like this?


# **GOD HAND**

I want to be clear that I do understand how spectrum charts of this nature work, and that, if I were to follow the rules here, **GOD HAND** would be in between two points. However, I feel that **GOD HAND** exemplifies those two points of the spectrum to such a degree that it places one foot firmly at one point, and then does the splits across to the other point.

@“Mnemogenic”#p125209 precisely

@"robinhoodie"#p125210 exactly!

@"Gaagaagiins"#p125214 this is canon. but no other game gets to do this. only god hand rates such spectacular special consideration.


@“andrewelmore”#p125220 this is canon. but no other game gets to do this. only god hand rates such spectacular special consideration.

Let's compromise and say in the spirit of the PS2 3D Action oeuvre that others can come up with their own unique special graph techniques, especially if the main character could physically perform it (I can't prove it retroactively but in my mind I was thinking about **Gene GOD HAND's** Heel Drop technique when I made it like that)

@“Gaagaagiins”#p125225 you know what, you‘re absolutely correct. that’s way better.

I revisited Urban Reign the past few nights and I think I‘m going to have to retract it’s eligibility, unfortunately. It's really an arena fighter presented like a 3D brawler.

I think a double axis is possible to represent that era of beat’em ups.

❶ One axis should be about the number of enemies you are tasked to hit at the same time, given that the Musō genre was born on PS2. Or eventually, it could be about the scope and complexity of one stage: are you asked to clear and crowd-control one specific room at the time? Or do you have to take in consideration the entire field and things happening outside your field of view? Another way to think about it is how much do you need to consider what’s happening off-camera. I guess the real lower extreme on that axis would be any 1v1 fighting game, but Urban Reign could fit there.

❷ The second axis could be about how much the game relies on skill and execution of its combos or escapes (God Hand on one extreme of the axis) vs. how much the game relies on the RPG aspect (proper equipment, choice of weapons, character level/xp, reliance on NPCs etc.).

For instance, Ninja Gaiden Black was on the Xbox but, while it would be heavily on the side of « focus on the immediate small room of enemies », proper strategy regarding what kind of weapons you equip for each stage is actually quite important, so I would put it slightly less at the extreme of the « pure action and execution » than God Hand from that perspective.