Fighting games were extremely popular in the 1990s as they created perfect one on one battles for a generation of kids with shorter attention spans than their elders. Who has time to play a 20-30 minute game of NBA Live or Madden Football when you can punch and kick each other to a bloody pulp in less than 5 minutes? You can play a whole tournament with 5 of your friends in the same amount of time it took to get a game of football in. The Saturn is widely known for it’s fighting games, largely due to the popularity of the Virtua Fighter series as well as other franchises such as Street Fighter, that found their way onto the Saturn.
I’ve made it fairly clear in previous posts that I’m not a huge fighting games fan. That mostly comes from my lack of skill in the original 16 bit Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat games but I do admit I prefer the style of gameplay presented with fighting games of the 32-bit era. Something about the 3D environments and my general ability to win a round or two made these games more fun in my humble opinion. However, as a result of my general lukewarm feelings towards fighting games, I only own a few of the many available for the Saturn.
Virtua Fighter 2 was a big arcade hit in 1995 and was one of the early games available for the Saturn in late ’95. The original Virtua Fighter was available during the Saturn’s premature launch but it wasn’t the technological wonder that many were expecting. Virtua Fighter 2’s release, with improved graphics and gameplay was more indicative to what the Saturn could do. Overall, I like Virtua Fighter’s gameplay mechanics and visual style. The fighting mechanics are simple (kick, punch, block) but effective and strategy is the key here instead of relying on button mashing luck. The Virtua Fighter series is known for its floaty jumping mechanics but that doesn’t bother me like it does some others. It gives the impression that the game is taking place on some distant planet where gravity is more of a suggestion. I really don’t have anything negative to say about Virtua Fighter 2. It’s one of, if not THE, most well known Sega Saturn fighting game for a good reason.
Fighting Vipers is another solid arcade based fighting port that was a Saturn exclusive in 1996. The similarities between Fighting Vipers and Virtua Fighter 2 are evident but that’s ok because they are both well made, easy to learn, difficult to master fighting games. What makes Fighting Vipers somewhat unique is the art style and backgrounds/settings used for the fights. The characters in Fighting Vipers are more of your typical “American” style characters, complete with a heavy metal guitarist/singer, a roller blading model, a skateboarder, a flirty girlie girl fashionista, a GI Jane, a rotund mystery man, a Japanese expat, a young street gang leader as well as several unlockable characters. There are number of interesting and cool looking settings with walls around them for you to either throw your opponent against or if using a special move, you can throw them through the walls as a sort of finishing touch. It looks pretty cool and is very satisfying to pull off. There’s a little bit of blood but overall, Fighting Vipers is not a graphic fighting game. While Virtua Fighter 2 is meant to have more of a strategic approach to fighting, Fighting Vipers rewards aggressive moves, attempting to pin your opponent against the walls so you can pummel them mercilessly. One thing I noted with Fighting Vipers is the character’s collective ages. Almost all of the characters are teenagers, with the youngest fighter all of 14 years old! All I kept thinking about when playing this game was where were these kids’ parents?!?!
Currently in my collection:
Fighting Vipers – game, manual, case B+
Virtua Fighter 2 – game, manual, case A-