Metascore
66

Mixed or average reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 20
  2. Negative: 1 out of 20
  1. 90
    Brings more than just fierce punches and kicks -- it features an engaging story and plenty of gameplay modes that offer a high replay value. Hands down, this is one of the best PS2 games.
  2. Great graphics, good sound, mediocre gameplay. We were soooo close.
  3. Likely to elicit plenty of "Oooohs!" and "Ahhhhs!" from your friends, The Bouncer simply doesn't have enough substance to satisfy diehard gamers.
  4. If The Bouncer had been cast with a little more of the freedom associated with the RPGs it borrows its visual flair from then this would have been a defining moment for the PlayStation2.
  5. It is lacking mostly in the game play department, which frankly, isn't very exciting. It presents little variability and this allows it to get old fairly quick.
  6. Pretty to watch, but a real bore to play, and when it's not boring, it's frustrating. Not a good mix.
  7. An above average game -- it just had so much more unrealized potential. And it gets damn annoying at times.
  8. The Bouncer is more cut-scenes than fighting. It is very difficult to get into the flow of the game when you have a two to three minute fight sequence and then stop and watch a five minute cut scene before another two to three minute fight sequence.
  9. 70
    The Bouncer is not the next messiah, it's not the next wave of fighting, and frankly, it's not the paradigm for anything really new, except perhaps incredible-looking graphics.
  10. 70
    It's a quick fix of violence wrapped up in the sort of looks that will impress your non-PS2 owning mates, and at least you can show it off when they come round. Just bear in mind that it won't beat "Tekken," "DOA2" or "Soul Calibur" for replay, and you will enjoy it.
  11. 68
    It is one of the sharpest looking PS2 games out right now, but the lack of actual gaming content leaves it with an overall mediocre feel.
  12. It looks and sounds incredible. However, the ease and extremely short length of the game, matched with other problems like horrific camera angles and lack of a multiplayer story mode, make The Bouncer fair, at best.
  13. Quite possibly the prettiest game I’ve ever seen...But presentation isn’t really the problem here. It’s the gameplay.
  14. I could go on for hours describing the game's pendulum swings from ground-breaking presentation and production value, to sub-par action and repetitious, short gameplay.
  15. The Bouncer is here and it's not any good. We know how much that hurts, but it's time to move on. The game is less than three hours long -- less than 30 minutes if you skip the movies -- and what's there isn't fun.
  16. If you're desperate for some next generation eye candy and can put up with the mediocre game engine, then by all means snag this game.
  17. While The Bouncer cam puts on a good show, it chooses fashion over function every time. Dramatic camera angles produce awesome screen shots, but as a result you'll spend half the time wondering what's sitting right in front of your face.
  18. Gorgeous-looking, but devoid of almost any rewarding gameplay whatsoever, despite a functional multiplayer.
  19. There's not much else to be excited about. It is an average beat-'em up with some nice visuals...The combat is too disjointed, the gameplay feels distant, and the fighting engine is too simple.
  20. One hell of a disappointment and one of the worst experiences I've ever had to endure on my shiny DVD-playing black box.
User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 22 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 14
  2. Negative: 2 out of 14
  1. Feb 23, 2015
    7
    The Bouncer is a beat-em-up game with mechanics that would have been revolutionary had they not been buried behind idiotic design choices. ItThe Bouncer is a beat-em-up game with mechanics that would have been revolutionary had they not been buried behind idiotic design choices. It reminds me of "Die by the Sword," in that the precise hit detection should have spawned a new genre of sequels and copycats with procedural action gameplay, but was instead lost and forgotten.

    REVOLUTIONARY:
    1) The game has PERFECT hit detection. It feels pixel-based, and it's better than what we have 15 years later today. What this does is it really makes the differences between each attack stand out so you can apply them to the situation, shifting strategies as enemies cluster, or flip. It keeps everything feeling procedural and organic, because the impact angles are always different.
    2) Rag-doll physics for all human and cat characters (but not robots). Some beat-em-ups today do this (not enough), but the ragdoll in this game is probably the best I've seen, and at the time any real physics was novel, and they actually affect gameplay.
    3) Enemies knock each other over when they collide. In combination with the perfect hit detection and rag-doll-physics, this opens up a world of strategy and replayability.
    4) Two NPC allies stay with you almost the entire game and help in fights, although they can knock you down when they're hit.

    IDIOTIC Design Choices:
    1) No cooperative gameplay. The only multiplayer was the versus mode (up to 3-on-3 with 2 computer-controlled allies per, or free-for-all with 4 players). I would have killed for coop gameplay in the survival mode especially.
    2) Encounters are way too short (3-5 enemies) before a frequent, overly-long cutscene and another upgrade/save/character-select point. The plot is so insipid you skip cutscenes on the first playthrough, but even that takes time. The characters are dressed for Final Fantasy, meaning they all universally look stupid aesthetically.
    3) Walking movement in 3D was stiff, constantly arrested by an auto-lock-on mechanic that made it difficult to position yourself with the precision that the hit detection required.
    4) Characters have 8 basic attacks (and paltry few combos) from 4 face buttons; this was one of the only games ever that distinguished between light and hard press on the PS2 controller. Picking attacks like that, rapid-fire in sequence, is just too much to ask from a player in a fast-paced beat-em-up.
    5) There are no environmental hazards, ring-outs, or destructible/interactive objects in the environment. It's like the entire game takes place in one room where the background art shifts.
    6) An RPG upgrade system, which never works in action videogames because it's always hard to calibrate how upgraded you need to be. So if you save up to buy new moves (which is my bias because I want to see everything...at least get the throw because it looks cool with the ragdoll effect) or switch characters midway to upgrade them, the game becomes impossible.
    7) Then there are a few pointless sections without enemies or puzzles, just corridors with only one exit and literally nothing to do but proceed there; it's bizarre.
    8) There's no "continue" option when you die (you have to load a save from the main menu) which just aggravates the steep difficulty curve and cheap bosses that begin appearing at the halfway point.
    9) The game lasts 3 hours, although only 1 hour is actual new gameplay, the rest is cutscenes and restarting the same section over and over because of a super-cheap boss.

    The upshot is a relatively fun game (worth a playthrough or two) with enormously squandered potential. In the 15 years since, only dinky indie games have attempted procedural/organic beat-em-up gameplay, and not nearly as well.

    What probably went wrong is too much of Square's traditional Final Fantasy RPG influence. It's a shame, "The Bouncer" could have fixed itself into a superb 9/10 game just by adding cooperative play and deleting "features": delete the cutscenes, delete the RPG mechanics (spawn every character with all his moves), delete the robotic enemies, delete the invisible wall that keeps enemies from "ring-outs."
    One more step beyond that--add in environmental hazards, make the arcade (not "story"; literally zero cutscenes would be better) mode longer, and maybe design characters that didn't look like they were caught inside a Lisa Frank warehouse explosion--and we're talking a perfect 10/10 game.
    Full Review »
  2. May 6, 2014
    5
    I used to love this game when I was a kid, but I was kind of disappointed when I picked it up to play it again after so many years. This gameI used to love this game when I was a kid, but I was kind of disappointed when I picked it up to play it again after so many years. This game is good actually, for its graphics. This game was made back in 2001... Back then this, this was pretty revolutionary to me and some other people, but graphics was not the only thing that was good; the sound was also great. With all that said, this makes it a decent game, but does that make it a great game? NO. The gameplay was definitely awkward and not entertaining, the game felt really fun back then, but now I think it was not really enjoyable... And I see that some people agree. I think the gameplay is mediocre, which is disappointing being that this game could've been great if the actual game was... What a shame. Full Review »
  3. Oct 26, 2012
    8
    The Bouncer is an odd, atypical sort of fighting game. Unlike its traditional brethren - Street Fighter, Tekken, Soul Calibur - The BouncerThe Bouncer is an odd, atypical sort of fighting game. Unlike its traditional brethren - Street Fighter, Tekken, Soul Calibur - The Bouncer assumes more of the feel of a RPG with the same traits as a fighting game. In fact, this game could be more akin to an old-school side-scrolling fighter from the days of yore if one has an open imagination. Nevertheless, Square's attempt at a trendy Japanese spiced fighter is a true sleeper, even when it was released. The graphics are fantastic considering when it was released, everything clean and well polished, with a similar feel in visuals to that of Square's Final Fantasy X. Combat is limited to only a handful of different attacks for each of the three playable characters in the story mode. However, these do not inhibit for some heated combat with multiple attackers at once.

    The story is short, and you can breeze through The Bouncer in speedy fashion. But there's a huge replay value, with lots of backstory told through the loading screen. Playing as each character offers a different perspective on the story, allowing for some conversations to be heard, while other details are left out for a separate playthrough with another character. And of course, there's a nifty multiplayer mode that allows you to control any of the characters you earn throughout your main-game adventures.

    A final nifty feature is the leveling system, giving the game an added feel of role-playing. Experience points are earned with each battle, allowing you to learn new attacks and improve your health/defense/power. You're forced to spend them wisely as you level up your characters. Though this is by no means a popular game, The Bouncer offers an unique take on a fighting game that few other games have attempted. It's worth it!
    Full Review »