Capcom’s joyful, rule-breaking gameplay laid the groundwork for today’s multiplayer shooters. Its producer and designer tell us how they did it
From the very beginning, developers saw the Dreamcast console as a place to experiment. Sega set the tone with innovative outliers such as Shenmue, Jet Set Radio and Seaman, but other game publishers soon caught the wave. There was Acclaim with the odd extreme sports title Trickstyle, developed by the Burnout team; there was Interplay with futuristic shooter MDK2, created by Bioware five years before Mass Effect; and there was Capcom with its joyful, rule-breaking brawler Power Stone.
Set in a boisterous, steampunk-infused universe of pirate ships, taverns and temples, Power Stone was a two-player 3D beat-em-up, in which environmental awareness was as important as punching. There were 10 characters to choose from, most drawn from weird Victorian and Edwardian adventure fiction tropes: pilot explorer Edward Falcon; dancer (and ninja) Ayame; tank-like miner Gunrock; Galuda, a Native American bounty hunter. These were super colourful, diverse, problematic, overblown misfits, loaded with backstory – and this was years before Overwatch discovered the value of offering players a roster of funny, interesting weirdos rather than musclebound martial arts assassins.