Ranma ½: Hard Battle (らんま1/2 爆烈乱闘篇 Ranma ½: Bakuretsu Rantō-Hen?) (known in Europe as just Ranma ½) is a 2-D fighting game released by Masaya and DTMC for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Hard Battle is the second Ranma ½ game to be translated into English after Ranma ½: Chōnai Gekitōhen. However this time Hard Battle kept the original graphics, music, and character names, which had not been the case with Chōnai Gekitōhen. Different voices were used for the international releases outside of Japan. The PAL version changed some characters' names, such as using the name Adeline instead of Akane, keeping in line with the naming from the French dub.
The game was released in Japan in December 1992, making it the fifth Ranma ½ game to come out that year, and it was the third to be developed for the Super Nintendo. It was released internationally a year later. The original Japanese title, Bakuretsu Rantōhen, can be translated as "Explosive Brawl Chapter".
Ranma and his father Genma decide to perform their martial arts exercises in a remote part of China. What they don't know is that they've entered the "Training Ground of the Accursed Springs," which consists of more than 100 springs, each with its own unique legend. The story goes that anyone who falls into one of the springs will be transformed into the beast that haunts the spring. Now it's up to you to help Ranma and Genma get out of the area and in one piece. In this one-on-one fighter either alone or with a friend you'll have to do battle against a wide variety of strange enemies. Can you help this innocent father and son team escape and get home alive?
Principal Kuno offers to help each of the characters if they first defeat eight other opponents. However in all cases, he fails to live up to his promises.
Hard Battle has three modes of play: the standard one player story mode, a two player competitive mode, and a two player five character team challenge mode. There are ten characters in the game, twelve if Ranma and Pantyhose Taro's cursed forms are counted. All twelve characters are available for the two player modes. After completing story mode Taro becomes a playable character. Happosai is unlockable by entering a code.
Play control is simpler than most fighting games. Each of the SNES controller's buttons (plus the up arrow) can be assigned to activate one of four moves: jump, block, normal attack, and power attack. Different normal and power attacks can be triggered depending of a variety of factors, such as how far the attacker is from the opponent, if he is ducking, or if a directional arrow is pressed along with the attack button.
Instead of entering a series of directional movements and pressing an attack button to activate a special attack, most moves are done by holding the left, right, or down arrow in conjunction with an attack button for a few seconds and then releasing the attack button. The longer the attack button is held the stronger the attack will be. For instance, one of Ryoga Hibiki's special attacks is the bandana throw. If held for several seconds he throws three bandanas instead of one. Many moves can also be executed while holding the block button.
Another feature of Hard Battle is the ability to recover from throws. By pressing an attack button after being thrown the character can attempt to land on their feet and take less damage. Unlike many fighting games, opponents never get stunned after being hit with powerful attacks or a combo.
- Ranma Saotome: Principal Kuno makes a deal with Ranma: if he can defeat eight opponents he will get passing grades in all his classes. After defeating everyone the principal informs Ranma that skipping class is no way to go through life, and he will not get credit. The angry Ranma throws him through a window. Ranma can be played in his male or female form and in both forms can execute a double jump. He is a well-rounded character, though female Ranma is faster while male Ranma is stronger. His only real weakness is his lack of long range attacks. Ranma's special attacks include the Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken, Hiryu Shoten Ha, and Moko Takabisha. His stage is a riverside path under a bridge.
- Ryoga Hibiki: Ryoga wakes up in Principal Kuno's office with no recollection of how he got there. The Principal tells him if he defeats eight opponents his memory will return. In the end Ryoga regains his memory: Principal Kuno hit him in the back of the head when he entered his office. Ryoga is as well balanced as Ranma, though he is not as fast. His special attacks include the Shishi Hokodan, bandana throw, and Bakusai Tenketsu. Several of Ryoga's normal attacks involve his umbrella. His stage is the rooftop of Furinkan High School at night.
- Shampoo (known as "Bambou" in the PAL version): Principle Kuno tells Shampoo a story about eight warriors who decided to fight each other to determine who was the strongest. Shampoo takes the story to heart and decides that if she defeats the eight opponents, the principal has suggested that she will be strong and Ranma will like her. After defeating the eight opponents, the Principal informs Shampoo that she misinterpreted the story, and has to start over by fighting Taro. After winning the battle, Shampoo bemoans the fact that she can't do anything right. The Principal, however, states that because of her, his "coconut overruneth with joy." Shampoo is the fastest character in the game and can also do a double jump. She has two special attacks: a charge attack with her chúi and the rising sky dragon kick. Her stage is the top of a moving railcar.
- Akane Tendo (known as "Adeline" in the PAL version): Tired of having to fight off boys asking her for a date, Akane asks the principal to do something about it. So he sends her out to fight his eight most troublesome students. After defeating all eight opponents, the principal announces that she must defeat ten people instead of eight (counting Taro's cursed form as two people), and at this point Akane realizes that she has been used. After defeating Taro, the Principal announces there have been some changes in school policy. Rule #1: No fighting on school grounds. Enraged, Akane knocks out the principal. Akane is not as fast as Ranma, but has several useful basic attacks and two effective special attacks: a jumping uppercut and a dash punch. Her stage is the front yard of the Tendo Dojo.
- Genma Saotome: Genma has decided to stand up to his rebellious son. Principal Kuno advises him to start by making an example of his friends. After defeating Ranma and the other characters in the game, Genma is seen walking down a street covered with posters warning of a wild panda causing havoc over the city. Perhaps he should have fought in his human form...In the game Genma appears only in his panda form. He is easily one of the strongest characters, though is also quite slow. His arsenal includes attacks with his signboard, a series of rapid jabs, and a rushing attack. His stage is Jusenkyo.
- Hikaru Gosunkugi: Principal Kuno approaches Gosunkugi and tells him he is always ready to listen to the wishes of his students. Gosunkugi replies that his wish is to have Akane respect him. The principal then tells him that while he was in Hawaii he studied how directions can influence people's destinies. He then tells Gosunkugi that if he can defeat eight opponents from eight different directions, Akane will respect him. After defeating all his opponents, the principal dresses up like Akane and runs up to Gosunkugi, who is not fooled by the disguise. Gosunkugi's speed is below average but he is not strong. His primary weapons are his straw voodoo doll (which he can throw or swing) and a hammer. His stage is a haunted Japanese temple. This is the only appearance that Gosunkugi makes in any of the Ranma ½ fighting games.
- Ukyo Kuonji (spelled Ukkyo Kuonji in the manual and known as "Frederic" in the PAL version): Principal Kuno talks up Ukyo's ego about how strong she is and how one of her strengths could be to make any business prosper. This leads her to participate in the tournament. She fights with an assortment of spatulas. After winning the tournament, she realizes the principal was using her to get free food. Ukyo is fairly well balanced and has good reach when she swings her large spatula. Her special attacks include throwing spatulas and firecrackers. Ukyo's stage is a wrestling ring with a giant okonomiyaki being fried in the middle of it.
- Mousse (known as "Mathias" in the PAL version): As the story begins Mousse is consulting a fortune teller wearing a Hawaiian shirt. The fortune teller informs Mousse that if he wants to be happy he must defeat eight opponents. After beating all the opponents Mousse realizes he has been used and hovers over the principal with weapons drawn. Principal Kuno responds that he is about to be attacked by a duck. Mousse uses a variety of weapons for his normal and special attacks, including swords, a ball and chain (which not only has good reach but can sometimes get as many as four hits in), a yo-yo, a swan-shaped potty (Fist of the White Swan), and a cat. His special attacks include egg bombs, a flurry of blows with different weapons, and diving at his opponent with clawed shoes (Hawk's Talon). His stage is a fighting arena.
- Gambling King (simply called "King" in game): King dreams of owning his own casino, but lacks the funds. Principal Kuno offers to give him some financial aid, but he must defeat eight opponents first. After defeating the eight opponents, the principal informs King that he has one more fight...he bet the money he had saved up for the casino on the last opponent. After defeating Taro, The Principal allows King to open a casino next to his office. It turns out that King is a better fighter than a gambler because he can't beat high school students at his games. He is perhaps the most challenging character to beat the game with. Although slow he is not exceptionally strong and most of his attacks are close range or of limited usefulness. He makes a variety of attacks with playing cards, dice, and a bow. King's stage is a casino. This is the only playable appearance that he makes in any of the Ranma ½ fighting games.
- Pantyhose Taro: Principal Kuno tells Taro that if he collects eight signatures, he can make Happosai give him a new name. After defeating all the opponents, the principal accuses Taro of forging the signatures and suggests he fight the person who named him. He defeats Happosai, but the old man passes out as Taro demands a new name. The player can select his normal form or his cursed form. While human his only special attack is a leaping kick, but his strength and speed are good and his normal attacks are useful. The transformed Taro is as strong and slow as Genma and can do a diving or charging special attack. His stage is a cliff overlooking the sea. Pantyhose is the final boss for all playable characters except himself, in which case he fights Happosai.
- Happosai: Happosai is the final boss for Pantyhose Taro Happosai's special attacks are a small projectile, his Happo-Fire Burst and extending his battle aura, which makes him look several times larger. His stage is a giant statue of Principal Kuno. Happosai can only be played or fought by anyone besides Pantyhose Taro by using the Debug mode cheat. When played in story mode, Happosai has no ending and his opponents loop. Losing two rounds in story mode as Happosai results in the game freezing.
CGRundertow RANMA 1/2: HARD BATTLE for SNES / Super Nintendo
- Given the setting at Furinkan High, and Principal Kuno's importance in the plot, it is odd that Tatewaki does not make an appearance.
- Ranma ½: Hard Battle instruction manual
- らんま1/2_爆烈乱闘篇 on the Japanese Wikipedia
- MobyGames profile
- Video Game Museum endings gallery
- Hardcore Gaming 101 entry for all three fighting games
- The Cutting Room Floor entry
- Silent Divergence review
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