The idea behind Project Justice sounds like the type you might read in a “Your game ideas” section in a computer magazine. Teachers and pupils from rival schools band together and fight it out in 3D to uncover a mystery following a chain of events. Of course, only such an idea would come from the land of rice crackers and noddles – Japan. Project Justice is a sequel to the Arcade and Playstation game “Rival Schools” a solid and likeable fighter that was over shadowed by the likes of Tekken.

The 25 plus character line up in Project Justice is quite possibly the most bizzare in gaming history, including a swimming instructor (dressed in flip flops of both the hand and foot variety), the school nurse, (her combo puts your fighters life bar up!), the all rounder PE teacher, nerdy IT teacher, school photographer, music Teacher and a sporty mix of football, baseball and tennis players each using their sporting tools of the trade for battle. There’s also a bunch of switch knife weilding thugs (like the kind you come across in Manchester) and a sumo wrestling teacher – I bet not many schools outside Japan have them!

Project Justice plays much like Capcoms traditional 2D fighting games, only in three dimensions. Although the characters and backgrounds are three dimensional, gameplay still takes place on a 2D plane meaning the 8 way bouts that Soul Calibur offered are no where to be found.

Project Justice offers 5 different play modes for up to 4 players. Arcade, Verus, Training, League Battle and Tournament. Arcade mode features two types of play – Free play and Story mode. In story mode you pick a group of 3 already chosen fighters and the games plot is explained through 2D anime cartoon style cut scenes before and after battles. Sadly, the story itself is fairly complicated and very unrewarding. You may not want to finish with every fighter, but doing so will reward the player with new characters.

Project Justice stands out from other fighting games gameplay wise as battles are in groups of three. When your power meter is powered up you can team up with the other members of your posse to create stunning combos. Sometimes before calling in another fighter you’ll have to break up a fight between your other members which is done by landing the first punch in a short 10 second bout. The air combo system is well thought out too – instead of just launching yourself in the air you have to time your approach right as people fall to the ground at different speeds.

Some of the more silly combos include synchronized swimming, a life giving massage, hypnotism and human tennis target practice. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter how comical they maybe, you’ll soon tire of seeing them after a short space of time.

Visually Project Justice doesn’t have the same style or flare as Dead or Alive 2 or Soul Calibur. By no means poor, in fact nicely stylised and the majority of backgrounds are filled with movement (the lighting effects on the construction site level are noteworthy) but don’t hold a candle to the latter games visuals. The music and sound effects are rather twee too, as you would expect from a game of this nature.

Overall Project Justice is an above average fighter in all departments. There are lots of moves and combos to discover and it’s a good example of crazy Japanese game design. Maybe abit too over the top for it’s own good however. It’s no match for the still stunning Soul Calibur, Dead or Alive 2 or quite possibly Capcom Vs SNK in terms of style and depth, but we would be happy to include it in the Top 5 Dreamcast fighters.

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