Float like a butterfly and spike like a hedgehog…
Every fancied seeing who would win in a straight up bare knuckle fight between Sonic and Robotnik? Well, back in 1996 the SEGA AM2 crew thought they’d let us find out for ourselves…
Initially launched as an arcade release, yes that’s arcade as in “coins in a slot” type arcade (remember them ?), followed by a release in the Sonic Gems Collection that came out for the PS2 and Gamecube back in 2005. A Saturn release was planned but like a lot of things around that time, it never saw the light of day.
So yes, this fighter is getting on in years. But it was developed by SEGA AM2, a name that any fighter fan worth their electronic black belt will recognize from the Virtua Fighter series. That’s some serious fighting chops right there, but is this one worth checking out?
Although the heritage of the VF series is there in the team behind it and to a certain extent is there on the screen in front of you, it’s actually quite a basic brawler. Punch, Kick and Block buttons are there in conjunction with directional inputs as is the norm. You won’t go breaking a brain vessel trying to remember the button combos for any of the moves though. However, when confronted with some of the more obscure characters that are included in the game, you might (Bark the Polar Bear? Anyone?).
Don’t expect much longevity for a single player experience. Compared to today’s offerings, this is quite easy by comparison. As a result, if that’s your reason for looking at this one you’ll be disappointed. Multiplayer is where it’s at with a fighter and it’s still enjoyable whether you’re sitting on the couch with a buddy or taking Knuckles online to deliver some knuckle sandwiches. As I’ve said, it’s not complicated, but it’s a good laugh.
Graphically, well what you’re greeted with in this XBLA/PSN release is the original game, that’s it. No HD upscaling has been done, no revamping of anything for that matter other than the inclusion of the online mode. This, at the end of the day, may be it’s downfall. The graphics may have been cutting edge back when the game was released, but here they’re showing their age on today’s HDTVs.
This is however a rare game. Think about it, outside of retro collections and the original arcade this hasn’t been seen in quite some time. Fans of fighting games and also Sonic collectors should therefore take note, given it’s price point of 400 MSPoints this little slice of history is a nice addition to the collection. Admittedly it’s not going to keep you glued for hours trying to unlock all the extras, but it’s a nice wander down the rose-tinted path of retro games and one best enjoyed, as with all fighters, with a friend.