In the last installment of fighting games you’ve undoubtedly forgotten about, there were some real winners in that batch of oven baked oatmeal cookies, and there are some more in this list. But there are also some real stinkers this time around. Make sure you pinch your nose near the end of the article. I think the landfill is calling to pick some of these losers back up.
Just recently re-released on the Virtual Console (Thanks for the shout out, by the way, Pete!), ClayFighter, while not revolutionary at the time, should have been. If not for its gameplay (And it DEFINITELY shouldn’t have been for its gameplay), then definitely for its creativity and uniqueness. Quite frankly, there’s nothing else like ClayFighter, and this is good at times, and also terrible at others. The assortment of characters is what does it for me though. Granted, most of it was just an ongoing gag of the fact that they were sculpted out of clay (Blue Suede GOO, anyone?), but it was a fun little roster, with Bad Mr. Frosty rounding out the pugilists. The graphics were also pretty mind blowing at the time. They weren’t Donkey Kong Country mind-blowing, mind you, but for a fighting game with some pretty good physics and jump attacks, it definitely was a hint at where the consoles were capable of going at the time. ClayFighter equals great fun.
Oh, and PS, the sequel had Boogerman and Earthworm Jim in it. Is there anything better than that?
Can somebody say total rip-off? Well, many Street Fighter fans did at the time, and a lot of them still do to this very day. But that’s straight-up poppy cock, as WH was loads different, like the fact that it only had three buttons (Hey, that’s three less, SF fans!) instead of six, and that, kind of like Eternal Champions, it based its combatants off of different periods of time, but unlike Eternal Champions, it actually had some real ones in there, too (Who knew Rasputin kicked so much heiny in his time?). The problem was, not many people were willing to give a chance back then, so the series pretty much ended at World Heroes Perfect. But some people still dig it, and you can find the original on the Virtual Console. It’s all sorts of greatness. Trust me, it is.
Rival Schools: United By Fate
A game so good that a band named themselves after it (Rival Schools Band) , RS:UBF is a real romper stomper of a title, and definitely Capcom’s third best fighter outside of Street Fighter (Star Gladiator is my first favorite, and the next one down is my second). As a fighter, it was a bit different. Similar to the tag feature in the Marvel vs. Street Fighter series, you would pick two characters to wreak havoc on the screen, with the sports teams and school spirit being a nice touch to a pretty gimmicky feature. But this being Capcom, they of COURSE had to ramp up the weirdness to a million, as even the hot school nurse and the school principal had to get in on the mix, throwing out shoryukens like it’s going out of style (Which it never is, of course, how could it? They’re awesome). And while the actual meat and potatoes one-on-one combat wasn’t all that spectacular, whipping out those ultra-deluxe tag-team supers sure was something special. Whoo-Wee, too awesome, too awesome. RS:UBF is a decent game with more than a few features that make it stand out. Definitely worth a gander if you can even find it these days.
Darkstalkers is very much Street Fighter. And I’m not even calling it Street Fighter lite, either (i.e., SF Alpha one and two), but genuine, “I’ll quarter circle that aaaass,” Street Fighter, with all of the key ingredients already shuffled and stirred into the mixing bowl of success. There are the outrageous, but humorous characters (Anakaris, you have funny fingers), the high combo blasting supers, and even the tough as nails boss, that make this game every much a Street Fighter killer as any, even if it IS already underneath the Capcom umbrella. Is there any wonder why four of the characters from this series made the leap to Marvel vs. Capcom 2? Darkstalkers is an AMAZING game, and one that, if you’re a fighting fan, you can’t live without. Behind Star Gladiator, this is my second favorite, non-Street Fighter Capcom game. It’s just that good.
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
Okay, whoever thought it was a good idea to have a story mode where you could only pick ONE CHARACTER (Acclaim, I’m looking at you) should seriously be brought out to a spanking range blindfolded and then just made to sit there with their bare bottom out, waiting for a paddling that will never come (It’s the ANTICIPATION that will hurt the most), because it’s a stupid idea. Seriously. Being able to only play as the man with the fists for the story mode is just plain weak, and it truly ruined what could have been an awesome experience, which was marred by the idea that the game had to stay true to the movie it was based on. The combat is kind of cool though, and I especially LIKE the ability to jump on your characters when they’re down, which was truly Bruce Lee-esque in scope. But really, the game was pretty much like playing Tekken before Law came along, and after that happened, it pretty much made this game obsolete. So yeah, it was a cool concept, but it was poorly executed. That’s Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.
Um, excuse me? You mean to tell me that Shaq has a fighting game? And it comes with a bonus CD of Shaq calling himself “Shaq Diesel”? Only in the Clinton years, my friend, only in the Clinton years. I mean, I know that NOW, the idea of larger than life basketball players doing superhero acts doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore, what with Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic donning a Superman cape and slamming it home at the All-Star game, but back in the day, this was almost as ridiculous as that Michael Jordan plat-former where he was bouncing on trampolines and acquiring points from nabbing basketballs—I said, almost. But truthfully, Shaq-Fu really is ridiculously terrible and quite possible one of the worst games—forget fighters, I’m saying GAMES—ever made. It had HORRIBLE hit detection, a tremendously hard difficulty level (I remember getting to the third character, like, twice), and a story that makes the Mortal Kombat mythology look like it was written by Gustav Flaubert. In other words, Space Jam made more sense, and that movie didn’t make ANY sense (It was pretty good, though. Great soundtrack). Shaq Fu ? More like (Wait for it) Shaq-Poo! And I could care less if I just wasted my college education on a poop joke. This is America, dammit, and Kevin Smith is a star.
This, I guess you could call it, “follow-up” to Mortal Kombat is an absolute mess disguised as something original. Really, all it is is people dressed up in funny costumes (Funnier than even Kabal from MK3, and that was pretty funny), walloping on each other and chanting strange things from surround sound speakers. Undoubtedly, this is even WORSE than Shaq-Fu (and did you read what I just wrote about Shaq Fu? That game is TERRIBLE). I mean seriously, I don’t think I could even TELL you what was so bad with it, but as soon as you touched that joystick, any smile you might have had on your face after eating at Roli Boli in the food court was utterly and completely destroyed, and you were stuck with trying to pull off any of the cool looking fatalities you saw in Ultra Game Players, only to end up uppercutting them really high and having them land, thud, right back on the concrete. Well, you know what, screw War Gods, and screw Midway for thinking people would actually be dumb enough to like it. Don’t you guys have market testers? They couldn’t have POSSIBLY have liked rolling around the bland as all get out stages and those cookie cutter combos, could they have? I mean, just look at the side of the cabinet. What the hell is THAT thing? I’ll tell you what it’s NOT. Awesome. Not even a little.
Next up: Tobal, Bushido Blade, Guilty Gear, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and More…