Samurai Shodown

Mitsurugi from Soul Calibur is pretty obviously inspired by this dude.

Samurai Shodown kinda looks like a platformer, but it turns out it’s a pretty solid fighting game worthy of the successors it spawned.

It’s pretty plainly in the Street Fighter tradition, with weapon attacks and kicks, three of each, and special moves executed with the same controller inputs. It’s got a pretty high damage output, and simple combos.  All in all it reminds me a lot of Street Fighter II in its various iterations.

Unfortunately, I’ve managed to draw an assortment of games in the letter S that narrowly avoid all the Street Fighter games, even though I dearly love Street Fighter. I was not expecting to enjoy this game as much as I did, though, so now I feel a bit better.

I don’t really know much about Samurai Shodown as a series, or the various spinoffs and related series from the same publisher, SNK – they did the various other big fighters like Art of Fighting and Garou: MOTW and King of Fighters and what have you.

What I do know is that there is a peculiar slowdown when hard attacks land – similar to that in SF2 when a projectile lands.  I find this terribly annoying, and I always thought it was lag.  It turns out it was intentional, and it was included in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix (longest game name ever?  Quite possibly) for projectiles.  The more you know.

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Rise of the Robots

Bender would beat the shit out of either of these assholes.

This game is shockingly bad.  You can only play one character.  There are only six other characters, who you fight in the same order.  Everyone only has two moves.  The AI spams the same move over and over and does more damage than you.  Multiplayer involves the first player using the crappy one character, and the second player choosing one of the bosses, who do more damage and take more damage to kill.

The pre-rendered graphics were clearly the focus of development time.  They were really hyped up, apparently, so much so that one magazine gave this buzzing fly-ridden pile a 90%.  It’s a shame that there is only an incredibly terrible game underneath those graphics – which aren’t even that good, even by SNES standards.

Reading little snippets of the video game market in the past make me feel a bit better about our current state of affairs.  Sometimes people worry that we care too much about graphics, at the cost of other areas of development.  Well, complain as you will, I have yet to play a game with great graphics in this generation that was anywhere near as skull-fuckingly atrocious as this game.

Mortal Kombat 3

Mortal Kombat II Turbo: Hyper Fighting

The Mortal Kombat series, probably better known for its violent array of finishing moves, exaggerated display of blood, and curiously inconsistent misuse of the letter “K” than its actual gameplay contributions to the fighting genre, continues on in this third installment, aptly titled Mortal Kombat 3 (in contrast to, say, the Street Fighter series, which failed to demonstrate its ability to count past the number two until around the ninth installment or so, depending on whether the Street Fighter EX series counts).

So what’s different this time around?

  • More characters.
  • Multi-tiered levels.
  • Umm…a “dash” button.
  • Wait, you can turn into an animal, too, which is kinda neat I guess.
  • What the…who the hell is this Stryker guy? He looks like some ex-frat guy working as a bike messenger. Or someone’s dad.
  • Cyborgs.
Stryker - Determined to do that keg stand...and be the worst Mortal Kombat character ever.
Stryker will fuck you up for some Pringles.

Alright, so what’s the same?

  • A handful of old characters, most with the same moves as in the previous two games.
  • An oddly large amount of blood spewed forth every time you punch someone in the face.
  • UPPERCUTS.
  • Character sprites are still stretched vertically, which makes them look a bit taller and leaner when fighting, but unnervingly short when you knock them down.
  • Cheap AI.
  • ADDITIONAL UPPERCUTS.
  • My general lack of skill and disdain.
Defeated by myself, proving yet again that I am my own worst enemy.  Especially when wearing a mask and wielding iron hooks...no wonder no one wants a hug.
Defeated by myself, proving yet again that I am my own worst enemy. Especially when wearing a mask and wielding iron hooks...no wonder no one wants a hug.

If I recall correctly (unlikely, but possible), the game was still fairly successful, helping keep Midway more or less in the black for another few years. Of course, Midway banked too much on the arcade market for too long, as well as trying to continue to milk what they could from their old arcade franchises well past the point at which people stopped caring about them. There’s obviously more to their demise, but that’s a topic better covered elsewhere. I’m mainly just here to pick apart old, defenseless video games and yell at fictional characters, and my qualifications as to those are questionable at best. My parents must be so proud.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Fighting Edition

TIDAL SCREEEEENN!!!

I was never into Power Rangers when it was on TV. I must have been around 12 when it first came out, which probably placed me right on the edge of the target demographic. As lineout mentioned previously, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was essentially on its way out, which I had already transitioned from watching almost religiously every time it was on after school, regardless of whether or not it was a rerun, to shrugging off in tired disinterest any time I switched channels to it on a Saturday. Honestly, I probably had better things to do like practice guitar, comb my proud peach-fuzz mustache, or try to download warez off of one of the local BBS’s at 9600 bps.

Don’t look at me like that…I’m not old yet…

Random button-mashing = SUCCESS

So, if I recall correctly, a typical Power Rangers episode went as follows:

  1. Some cheesy, one-off story line is presented featuring the Rangers in their normal high-school environment. It’s somewhat like Saved by the Bell, but with considerably less drama fueled by one of the main characters’ addiction to caffeine pills.
  2. A crazy person in a monster costume shows up across town and starts killing people and basically just wrecking up the joint.
  3. The Rangers jump into their color-coded spandex suits and start beating the crap out of the drug-addled costumed hobo.
  4. Some freaky woman with pointy hair and an obnoxious voice uses her magic wand to super-size the monster to Godzilla-esque proportions.
  5. The Rangers form Voltron and finish up the fight.
  6. The Rangers go back to school and conclude the story line with a smug sense of satisfaction.
  7. I die a little bit more inside.

What Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Fighting Edition does is filter the preceding outline down to just the Voltron fighting. Surprisingly, it does a somewhat adequate job of this. The game takes the Street Fighter II route of relying on various button combinations and direction-pad sweeps to execute special moves. There’s also plenty of flashing lights and colors to keep you visually entertained or otherwise induce epileptic fits.

He was strong, but he was no match for my flailing sword technique...

Fun fact: I just realized that the original black ranger was African-American, the original yellow ranger was of Asian descent, and, as far as IMDB tells me, the original red ranger was part Native American. Way to keep things PC, Saban Entertainment!

…or am I the bad guy for pointing out this connection? DEAR GOD, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!?

Fatal Fury 2

fatal-fury-2

This is, as of now, the only game I have actually played to its completion for this site.

Now, a fighting game is generally not very long or difficult to beat, but Fatal Fury 2 is good enough that I really enjoyed messing around with the system. I enjoy fighting games a great deal, and as far as the older 2d fighters on the old systems go, this is pretty good.  My only real complaint is the ridiculous inputs for some moves.  One of them is quarter circle back, then back-up as a separate input, then kick as a separate input, for a spinning overhead kick.  It is very hard not to jump when attempting this.  Terry’s super is something like quarter circle back, back down, forward, and then light punch + heavy kick.  What the hell is that?

Now, we’ve all played these games or games like them, these long-historied 2d fighter franchises that stand on the shoulders of generations of crazy Japanese players who keep their life savings in rolls of quarters.  So, instead of talking about the combo system or lack thereof, or the character selection, or whatever, let’s take a moment to examine the long, convoluted, and perhaps even arousing history of Fatal Fury.

Fatal Fury: King of Fighters is the first game in the series (which is made by SNK), and you can only choose from three guys: Terry or Andy Bogard, and Joe Higashi.  The review below will give you an idea of how good that game was.  It added a two-plane system to the fighting game formula, where you could move to the other plane to dodge attacks.  The story is essentially that Geese Howard murdered the Bogard boys’ father ten years ago, and they are on his trail to take revenge and also bring down his criminal empire.  Geese Howard is not as cool as M. Bison.

Fatal Fury 2 is much better, added different strengths to kicks and punches, and generally made the game playable.  At the end you face Wolfgang Hauser, who is some weird rich dude with lots of muscles.    There are five new playable characters here, who mostly become old familiar ones in later SNK games.

Fatal Fury 3 is actually made by the same guys who designed the first Street Fighter – which is, incidentally, terrible beyond all reckoning.   Around the time this comes out, there’s a whole bunch of Capcom-style permutations like Fatal Fury Special and Real Bout Fatal Fury and all sorts of wonderful Engrish titles of that sort.  It adds real combos to the game, which means it’s keeping up with the times.

Before FF3, though, there was a spin-0ff: King of Fighters.  This game and its sequels focus on the tournament idea that was begun by Geese Howard in the first game, while the subsequent Fatal Fury games abandon that and pursue some other bare skeleton of a story.  There has been a standard main-series King of Fighters game release every year in Japan, since 1994, until 2004 when there was none (although there was a spin-off KOF game); instead, KOF XI came out the following year.  Now, we’re getting KOFXII for 2009 in a couple weeks, and I for one am very excited.

A whole bunch more assorted Fatal Fury games came out, ending with Garou: Mark of the Wolves in ’99, which draws its name from the actual translation of the Japanese name for the original game, “Legend of the Hungry Wolf,” which is apparently derived from Terry being a lone wolf of some kind, even though he has a brother and shit.

In addition, just after Fatal Fury 1, SNK released The Art of Fighting, which is a prequel to the FF series taking place years before.  King of Fighters integrates both series and takes all those characters and pits them against each other.  The Art of Fighting has two sequels as well.

All told there are dozens of these games; I am not going to count, but I’m pretty sure it approaches a hundred, if not more.

In conclusion, if you thought Street Fighter was bad, try tracing SNK’s fighting game history.  Jesus christ.