The Fighting Games That Time Forgot
Back in the days when Nintendo and Sega's 16-bit consoles were duking it out, fighting games -more commonly known in my neck of the woods as one-on-one Beat-'em-ups- were at the eight of their popularity. Whether you were a Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter II fan was as important as whether you preferred Mario or Sonic. The simple charms of two people (or animals, robots, or other characters) knocking seven shades of snot out of each other first gained popularity in arcades (remember them?), before spreading to home consoles and computers. When the 32-bit generation rolled around, the fighter successfully transitioned to 3D with the likes of Tekken and Virtua Fighter. The genre fell out of favour for a while, but has recently seen something of a resurgence, especially with the e-sports crowd with events such as Evo concentrating on the genre.
For every Street Fighter or Dead or Alive, there are dozens of fighting games that didn't take the gaming world by storm in quite the same way. And that's what we're here to talk about today, introducing The Fighting Games That Time Forgot!
Clayfighter, Clay Clay Fighter,
Come and Fight them if you Dare!
Clay Fighter, Clay Clay Fighter,
Punch them, kick them, they Don't Care!
Using the same then-cutting-edge tech used to put "actors" in Mortal Kombat, Interplay's Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive/Genesis put claymation figures into this game which brought a much-needed sense of humour to an often po-faced genre. Boasting such characters as the snowman Bad Mr Frosty and Blue Suede Goo (an Elvis impersonator) it was a solid fighter which was genuinely funny. Plus it was one of the first games to have it's own specially recorded theme-tunes (see above). It was followed up by Clayfighter II: Judgement Clay and the Nintendo 64 version, Clayfighter 63 1/2 .
Thanks to it's use of pre-rendered graphics, back in 1994 Rise Of The Robots became one of the most hyped games of the year. In those days before everyone had the internet, gamers poured over the shiny screenshots in their games magazine of choice and eagerly awaited it's release. Only it turned out to be an absolute stinker, scoring some of the worst reviews of the year. These days the only time you tend to hear about it is on "worst games ever" lists. For a much more successful robot-based brawler, see One Must Fall
As you might have guessed from the title, the unique selling point of Brutal, was that it featured cartoon animals (including a bear, a lady fox and Kung Fu Bunny). Although made by the British developer Eurocom, it shared the eastern flavour of many of the most popular fighting games of the era, and revolved around a fighting tournament to win the coveted Belt of Heaven.
One of the earliest 3D fighting games, Toshinden is actually credited with introducing the side-step into the genre. It was also one of the early games released on the original Playstation, until it became overshadowed by the release of Tekken, which would go on be one of the console's biggest series, leaving poor Battle Arena Toshinden in the dust. Introducing weapons to the 3D fighter, it broke ground that would later be (arguably) improved on by Namco's Soul Blade/Edge/Calibur. Still, it deserves credit for pushing the genre forward and helping make the weapons-based fighting game what it is today.
Think Ninja turtles games and you probably think the arcade game or the NES classic, but Konami also gave those Heroes in a Half Shell their very own one-on-one beat-em-up, and a load of fun it was too. The NES, SNES and Mega Drive versions differed, but the Super Nintendo version was generally seen at the best. For a later, significantly less successful fighting games spin-off an established franchise, see Star Wars: Masters of The Teras Kasi
Hudson Soft entered the 3D Fighting arena with the Bloody Roar series, originally known as Beastorizer. The series had a distinctive feel, thanks to a unique fighting mechanic. All of the characters start off as human, but have the ability to transform into half animal hybrids. In human form the characters are quite weak, but by filling their beat meter they are able to morph into beast form and become much more powerful. The most recent instalment - Bloody Roar 4- was released in 2003 for PS2.
Tobal was notable for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was the first Playstation game published by Square. Secondly, it featured characters designed brilliantly by Akira Toriyama, manga artist and creator of Dragon Ball Z. Most interestingly, however, was that it included a quest mode, where players left the fighting arena and explored dungeons instead. Sadly however, it's US release was most notable for coming with a demo disc of then then-forthcoming Final Fantasy VII. Square made a further step into fighting game territory with Ehrgeiz, a game notable only for including FFVII characters Cloud and Tifa.
Time Killers pit characters from various different historical periods- including Vikings, knights and future warriors- against each other in weapons-based combat. Stata's arcade game was controversial at the time for it's other distinguishing characteristic- extreme violence. Debuting in 1992- the same year as Mortal Kombat, Time Killers revelled in gore, featuring dismemberment and decapitation at an Itchy and Scratchy level. The Mega Drive port arrived somewhat late to the party in '96, where it was poorly received by critics and gamers alike.
Sega studio AM2 were responsible for the Virtua Fighter series, the original 3D fighter. In 1995 they launched another fighting series in the form of Fighting Vipers. Playing very similarly to Virtua Fighter, Viper's key difference was that the characters sported armour and fought in a walled arena. Powerful attacks can be used to break through the armour, and the walls can be used to help you during battles. The whole thing had a very 90's "attitude" with characters who were probably "from the streets" and "down with da kids". It only ever spawned one sequel (later ported to Dreamcast) although at least one of the characters popped up in the 3DS cross-over Sega/Namco/Capcom game Project X Zone.
How many of these have you played? What's your favourite fighting game? let us know!