Sunday, 13 March 2016

Fightin' Spirit (Amiga)

Now, I don't mean to badmouth the Amiga when I say this, but Fightin' Spirit is one of the best-presented titles I've seen on the system, and it wouldn't look out of place on the SNES or Mega Drive a few years earlier. It's harsh, but it's true: by the time the 90s were in full swing, the gap in budget and size of development team between console/arcade games and Amiga games was at the point where, even with the more powerful hardware of the A1200, Amiga games were starting to look very dated in comparison.

This is a really well-presented game, though. There's menus full of options (which I'll get to later), big colourful fonts, character portraits, and all the stuff you'd expect from a post Street Fighter II fighting game. There's a bunch of different fighters, though they're mostly from the US, for some reason, with one guy each coming from Thailand, China, Japan and India. Plus there's a tiger from parts unknown and a dinosaur that, for some reason, hails from Brazil. Did Blanka make the developers assume that Brazil was just a land of monsters or something? Bizarre. The game's storyline gimmick is that all the human characters have "animal spirits" that appear over their bodies when they do certain special moves, which looks kind of like Joe's Tiger Knee from SNK's games, but with a whole bunch of different animals. Of particular interest is the token female character, Sheila, who has the dolphin as her animal spirit, but can also summon and throw ethereal starfish at her opponents.

Like I said earlier, there's a lot of options in this game. Some are taken from more popular games, like the King of Fighters-esque team battle mode, and the Deathmatch mode from World Heroes 2, with it's momentum-based shared health bar. There's also control options for one and two button controllers, and, more usefully, the four-button CD32 controller. There's also some odder options, like the option to either choose your opponent in single-player mode, or fight opponents in random order, and the inexplicable option to turn off special moves.

Well, once you start to play the game, that last option won't seem entirely inexplicable. One of the biggest problems this game has is that even if you have a movelist handy, specials just can't be performed reliably. The biggest problem, though, is that the fights aren't very exciting. Everything feels stiff, stilted and awkward, and the fact that specials only come out some of the time only adds to that feeling. Of course, the AI players can perform specials perfectly everytime, and they do. Repeatedly.

Fightin' Spirit might be better than the infamously bad Amiga ports of Street Fighter II, but compare it to any of its contempories on other formats, and it doesn't hold up well at all. I know those games had more powerful host hardware, bigger budgets and bigger, more experienced development teams, but it's the way it plays that lets Fightin' Spirit down, not the graphics or production values.

No comments:

Post a Comment