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Rings of Saturn Issue #15. “Fighting Vipers” in ERR, YU, YOU’RE MAKING QUITE A LOT OF FIGHTING GAMES AT THE MOMENT. HAVE YOU GOT ANGER ISSUES YOU’RE NOT TELLING US?

Yu Suzuki, noted and respected game designer that he is, sure made a lot of fighting games didn’t he? Even Shenmue, renowned for being a wholly original and enjoyable gaming experience, had its fair share of fisticuffs. Is anyone checking on Yu to make sure he’s okay? I mean, it might be advisable for someone to check in on his office every hour or so, just to make sure he’s not flying kicked someone out of the window to the inviting ground below (Because you can TOTALLY do that in Fighting Vipers).

Fighting Vipers is a game from the 90’s that commits my ultimate gaming sin. For those who have never read any of my work before, that sin may seem innocuous but it gets right up my nose and stays there to agitate and annoy in equal measure. For those who read my work a lot (I’d firstly like to thank you for doing so, you delightful creature you!) they will no doubt be able to finish the following sentence for me before I even type it. This game has no modifiable difficulty levels. Thusly, if you find the game either too hard or too easy when you first play, you’re time with it will be frustrating and shorter than if you’d been able to modify the difficulty to suit you accordingly.

Now, before the usual gaggle of idiots start with the “Boo! You’re just bad at this game and you’re whining about it! You’re not hard-core enough to appreciate this game. Boo! Kill the NOOB!! BOO!!!” comments, let me inform you all that I’m bloody awesome at this game. I blew through it with most of the roster in a grand total of something like 20 minutes. I lost probably all of three rounds in route to doing so as well. So yeah, I’m not having a bitch because the game was too hard; in fact I’m doing the exact opposite.

Yes, it’s rare that you hear me complaining about a game being too easy, but Fighting Vipers surprisingly has claimed that honour. It’s a shame because there were certainly elements of the game that I liked, but after playing it for a brief time I’d really seen all you could see. The roster of fighters isn’t especially gripping and there isn’t much replay value to completing the game with all of them, due to the fighting styles not being especially diverse.

Where as a game like Street Fighter II: Turbo has a more challenging difficulty curve and also a more varied and memorable roster, thus encouraging you to try and master everyone as best you can, Fighting Vipers’ roster really doesn’t provide as much impetus. You have your traditional heavy hitters like Sanman and more nimble smaller fighters like Picky, but most of them can all be defeated with relative ease by mashing the punch button.

Even Boss fighter B.M. can be despatched with relative ease by the entire playable roster. There’s no real strategic differences to picking, say, Tokio over Jane when it comes to fighting the final boss. Your tactics will remain relatively unchanged no matter who you plump for. Contrast this again with SFII: Turbo, where playing as different characters made the battle with Bison a different challenge depended on who you played as. For instance, Dhalsim’s lack of speed would make it harder to combat Bison’s quick feet, but he’d do more damage with one good shot than the much more nimble Chun Li would do. Again, this added actual strategic elements to the last boss instead of just turning up and mashing buttons until you won.

I’m sure there are fans of Fighting Vipers who will feel that I’m selling the games strategic elements short, but if you google reviews of the game you will find, on the whole, a general agreement that the game is too easy and that you can spam the game quite easily with the right characters selected. Though this doesn’t make the game an especially bad one, it does erode its longevity and make it more of a half an hour distraction as opposed to a classic fighter.

Graphically, the game looks fine for the time. The Saturn was capable of decent 3D graphics but its notoriously difficult set up made it hard for developers to get the absolute best out of it when it came to 3D. Overall though, I liked the graphics. Yes, they are a bit rough around the edges but they also have character to them and the stages are well designed.

Each stage is a giant square surrounded by a wall, fence or cage. You can knock opponents into the cage and even smash them straight through it if you land a devastating enough final blow. One of the later stages involves you fighting in an ascending glass elevator (In arcade mode this is where you end up doing battle with hair metal inspired fighter Raxel) and you can send your opponent through the glass wall tumbling to their, assumed, doom. You can also send B.M. flying off a roof top to his supposed death as well. Again, anyone think Yu had some anger issues he was working through when he produced this game?

Every fighter also has layers of armour that can be destroyed and whittled away during the bout. This is a nice touch and it’s always satisfying to land a big hit and see your opponents armour shatter into little pieces. The game even shows a little replay of the attack from different angles after the fact. It’s little more than a gimmick and operates as a fun sidepiece to the overall experience, but it is enjoyable and was one of the games calling cards when it first hit arcades.

So overall, the game isn’t bad. I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to recommend it but it certainly didn’t anger me. It just didn’t hold my attention for very long due to the easy difficulty level and lack of variety amongst its fighting roster. If you see it cheap, you could do worse than picking it up if you’re building a Saturn collection. I wouldn’t spend more than a Bison Dollar on it though.

As always, I’ll post some footage of the game below.

Thanks for reading

Nil Satis, Nisi Optimum (I’m retiring “Peace Out” as Mundanne Matt uses it on YouTube and he was using it before me. It was purely accidental that I lifted it for myself and I think it’s only right that I let him have it)

You can watch YouTube Footage of the game, courtesy of PickHutHG, by clicking HERE

Looking for other great content to view here on the site? Well why not take a goosey gander at the following?

Stephen takes a look at The Division and you can read about it by clicking HERE

You can read Ian’s review of Assassins Creed India by clicking HERE

And you can read Stephen’s review of Hurtworld by clicking HERE

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