Last week saw the XBLA release of three of Sega’s classic fighting games, all of which were originally created by their legendary AM2 team. Being a bit of a veteran when it comes to gaming of this nature, I’ll be looking at each one in turn, a virtual lament to an era of classic gaming, now overtaken by fast-paced first-person shooters and realistic football games. Next up; Fighting Vipers.
Like many who spent a fair amount of time in the Arcades in the mid-nineties, you can’t have failed to notice that the newer machines of the time were starting to become more and more 3D polygon based. They were loud, brash and really in your face fighting games. Way back in 1995, Fighting Vipers was one of these. With its acclaimed reception at the time, how has Fighting Vipers stood the test of time?
Just like Virtua Fighter 2, the opening menus are functional rather than lavish, with pretty much the same options as Virtua, an Arcade Mode, Offline Versus and Xbox Live Battle modes to choose from. Arcade mode has 3 options, with no differing version choice when compared to Virtua.
The premise for the game is, again, a replica of Virtua Fighter 2, where you use a combination of kick, punch and guard to beat your opponent within the timeframe. These are incorporated well into the controller and moves are fluid and feel natural. So, what’s different? Well, the characters are the main, obvious difference. Each character is replicated from the arcade cabinet, with definite Manga influences. They all have large hands, feet and eyes, and it is starting to look a little dated. There are no ultra-shaded HD resolution figures here, which may come as a culture shock for some. Each character you’ll notice, is wearing armour of some description. This armour is represented by the human figure next to the health meter at the top of the screen. If you pull the right combinations to the right areas, this armour can be broken. This is one of the ways you can increase your chances of defeating your opponent as the armour does not return at the start of the next round. Players without armour will take more damage to their health, so keep an eye on your armour meter throughout the bouts. Some characters have props that they will use to beat you senseless and there are some moves that you simply cannot block.
The arena is the other major difference from Virtua Fighter 2. This time around you are in an enclosed arena. The backgrounds are well animated, with large moving objects and shadowing. The walls of each arena form an integral part of your fighting strategy as each can be used to inflict pain on your opponent. Get this combination timed just right and you’ll blast them through the wall to their doom.
Once again, achievements are few and in the most part easily obtained as removing armour and performing the wall destroying kill move are there to grab easy gamer points. There were a few, however, that were not well explained, and not easy to execute, not for the lack of trying.
Having said this, the game contains a few secret modes and characters. The only disappointment was the absence of the Sonic the Hedgehog and “Miles ‘Tails’ Prower” hacked characters from the original cabinet. As before, these can form some of the achievements that you can obtain, so it’s worth have a play and seeing what you can find.
There is less speech in this game than Virtua Fighter 2 and the music is pretty standard for a game of this nature. The walls and cages smash with a slightly unrealistic crash and the hits and blocks have only a slightly different sound which can be hard to pick up if you’re concentrating on something else.
Overall, although Fighting Vipers was a later game than Virtua Fighter 2, it doesn’t quite feel as polished as its older cousin. It’s fun, but due to some intermittent collision detection, it’s not as fun as it should be. If you remember Fighting Vipers from the arcades and you’re looking for a faithful port, then this will be for you and although the achievements are mostly easy to get you will have some durability with the offline versus mode and the online leaderboards through the Ranking secret mode and Xbox Live Battle mode. Kid mode adds a little fun to the game in Arcade mode too, as all the characters then take on some exaggerated aspects of appearance. It’s frustrating at times, but addictive. I still want to pick it up and smash Raxel and his annoying guitar through the walls.