Art of Fighting: Legacy of Pain
When I was first tapped to write this blog, I had set several minuscule ground rules that I myself would abide by. These were not harshly binding rules by any sense of the word but ones that would help me keep my razor sharp focus and not wander off the beaten path. While you may be asking yourself, “Self, why is he already talking about violating his ground rules when he has only written three SNES articles and not even good ones, I might add?”. Please rest assured wander on the Interwastes, I do not plan on reneging for artistic sake. I will stick to my *flexible* rules even if it leaves me a broken hollow shell. The rule I am referring to is that no matter what horrors the SNES may toss at me, I will not skip a single game that graces my overburdened shelves. The plan was to look at each game with a subjective view and an unmolested eye. Not just the terrible abominations (anything by LJN), the secret mana from heaven games (wink, wink), or even those obscure cartridges that only die hard fanatics like me have ever played. So here I am, stuck in a quandary that deals with these *rules*. You see, I have a certain aversion to a particular type of game/genre. One that millions of people worldwide play on a daily basis. This genre is known as the “Fighting Game”.
I haven’t always loathed fighting games, wait I take that back, yes I have. I have such a burning hatred for any game that requires my fingers to achieve the dexterity of a card magician making shadow puppets on the wall in the sole chance that I may pull off a “high double shindig foot stomp fire ball” that leaves my competition begging for his blankie. There is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this abject disgust, one that I will plan on digging into in a later post. Please don’t think this is a cop out; more like ominous foreshadowing. But for now I shall just move on to my first fighting game in my SNES collection and that game is Art of Fighting.
So here I sit, diet cherry cola resting on the table next to me, slowly growing warm but remaining untouched. My hands grip the SNES “dog bone” controller with such unbreakable tenacity that my knuckles are two shades whiter than my already pale skin. The match begins, each contender marches fourth, the seconds count down, the crowd hushes, a pin drops to the floor heard by everyone. I have spent the past 20 years (30 min) training for this moment. I close the distance – determination burning in my eyes and…
10 seconds later I am laying on the floor face down in a puddle of what appears to be my blood. My opponent looks upon me in total disregard of my suffering and whispers, “You have no skill”. Now let it be known that this was the first fight I had engaged in. I flailed around the arena doing my best impersonation of a furry trying to sucker someone into a hug at an anime convention. It was embarrassing, it was humiliating, it was downright degrading. But in my defense, it was not all my fault.
This first thing I want to point out is the abysmal controls. In a fighting game your life completely depends on fluid controls and without such, you might as well be running head first into a wall . This style of game requires precision timing, smooth transitions and ultimately, a speedy response to controller inputs. Instead, you are left with sluggish movement, ridiculously floaty jumping, and unresponsive controls. When it comes to a fighting game, this is a programming flaw on par with giving you a toilet bowl brush in a fast paced, FPS game such as Modern Warfare. After 40 minutes of playing, 10 of which was spent becoming well acquainted with the floor, I had yet to get past the second fighter.
At this point I decided to try and look at other, possible redeeming, aspects of the game. Unfortunately, these departments were also still sorely lacking in polish. The music is a horrendous mixture of repetitive sounds and uninspiring beats that really doesn’t rally your fighting spirit. Hell, the start menu music alone sounded so much like Spy Hunter that I expected the need to drive to my first match all the while taking out vehicles with oil slicks and machine guns. Trust me; this game would have been a whole lot better if it took this route. As for the in game sound effects, I really can’t say they pack very much…punch. While the on screen fighters do exhibit the normal grunts and groans associated with beating each other to a bloody pulp, the effects sound just slightly better than putting a burlap sack over the head of a hobo and punching him repeatedly in the face, not by much I might add.
Now it’s time to move on to the graphics. While not always as important in my book as say- story or CONTROLS; it still needs some loving care. Maybe in this department there will be some redeeming quality that will make up for all the other pitfalls? Sadly, no. While I was able to tell whether I had picked a man or a wombat to be my next punching bag everything else was a hot mess. The stages (all two that I saw) seemed to be lacking in a certain department that’s critical to a video game and that’s substance. The stages were devoid of anything resembling detail. While I might add that you could easily tell if you were fighting in a temple or a bar, aside from those basic layouts, there really was not much to look at in the stages.
I really did give it my best effort! I wanted to go into to this game with a clean slate and not hold it to any of my preconceived prejudices dealing with fighting games, but it just wasn’t happening. So after much inner debate, I have decided to give this game more than just a quick summary of the overall aspects of the internal workings; I will do an “Original Gamester” first – I shall thrust upon it my scathing review.
Controls: Play with the controller unplugged or just hit your head with it.
Music: Ear bleeding
Graphics: Is that a teapot or a minivan?
Replay Value: Get used to seeing the continue screen.