Violence Fight (Arcade) review
"Thereís no game that encompasses the smell of pizza quite like Violence Fight. The aroma twists my head and lures me in. I cannot escape it; it is all-consuming. The game itself -- well, the quality was never in question. At best Violence Fight was always a comical time-waster to me, to us, who spent our lunch times feeding it quarters. Sure, it wasn't deserving of our attention, but it was there, and it was a video game. Better that we should have stayed indoors, inside the school-cum-penitentiary, and eat our packed lunches humbly hunched over at long nondescript benches? HA! How much sweeter it was to play a game this loaded with kitsch, loading our own stomachs full of sloppy pepperoni pizza, and enjoy a sun-filled walk back to our cells and classrooms. "
Thereís no game that encompasses the smell of pizza quite like Violence Fight. The aroma twists my head and lures me in. I cannot escape it; it is all-consuming. The game itself -- well, the quality was never in question. At best Violence Fight was always a comical time-waster to me, to us, who spent our lunch times feeding it quarters. Sure, it wasn't deserving of our attention, but it was there, and it was a video game. Better that we should have stayed indoors, inside the school-cum-penitentiary, and eat our packed lunches humbly hunched over at long nondescript benches? HA! How much sweeter it was to play a game this loaded with kitsch, loading our own stomachs full of sloppy pepperoni pizza, and enjoy a sun-filled walk back to our cells and classrooms.
Certainly the names that greeted us were funny. Bad Blue was the main attraction. He's the studly musclebound hero, the guy who you want to be. If you hit the gym hard and wear a nice tight fitting pair of Wranglers and go shirtless, you might come close to fitting the bill. But can you jab like him? Can you perform useless, twisting, jumping knee attacks that resemble Michelle Kwan double axles? Of course you canít. The red-headed hero isnít your only choice, but he was the most popular one at our convenience store. He was bad after all -- even his name concurred.
Ben Smith is the always tough Black Guy. Arenít Black Guys always tough? They're usually stricken with some handicap like being slow of mind or of foot to compromise that toughness, but Ben has escaped this dubious distinction. Heís tough and fast, and his machine gun punch is a useful tool if this game offers any.
Lee Chen is our Asian friend. Itís a good thing that Violence Fight looks like a McDonaldís ad. Weíre all so... well represented. He can execute spinning, flipping kicks with the ease and grace of a ballerina. His outfit, while authentically traditional Chinese, is of a dodgy shade, and perhaps clandestine ballerina training really did figure in the past of this mysterious fighter.
Best of all though, is Lick Joe. Yes, you read that right: Lick Joe. The brown-clad, dumpy fighter looks like a pile of crap with limbs. He's an overweight, over-the-hill Patrick Swayze from Road House (I love you Dalton!). His hair needs a wash, his pot belly gives him the look of an expecting mother, eight months along. Donít let this put you off, as Joe wields a deadly weapon -- his palm, facing upward, will flash before your eyes, before his grubby fingernails find their target: your throat (Dalton, is that really you?). A truly unconventional attack, as is his other staple move, the two-legged dropkick, a la Blanka from Street Fighter II fame.
Choose one of these stout warriors and fight the other three successfully to gain access to another tier of fighters entirely. A madman resembling Stone Cold Steve Austin will infuriate you with his flying headbutts and his extended middle finger (heíll do the latter when he wins, the bastard, so you can expect to see that offensive, poorly drawn gesture pretty often). The man behind it all is another Black Guy (Benís older brother?) and he bears a bicycle chain. He will lash you with it with impunity and you will cry bloody murder (I'll never forget the classically kitsch sound of his attacks: BRRRUPP! BRRRUPP!). Beat him and itís doppelganger time -- just like Double Dragon.
But Double Dragon had some decent technique involved. Violence Fight doesnít. Itís got extraneous perks, like the unruly crowds who toss beer bottles and other trash your way, and the bonus rounds where you take on a tiger to gain increased strength to be attributed to your punch or kick. But itís missing fundamentals. Sure itís nice to smash a human-sized barrel or crate over your opponentís head, but it would be nicer if you could block. It would be nicer if you could actually recover when youíre down and out and in the corner. It would be nicer if the jump kick attacks (outside of Lee Chen's) were actually useful.
I would be supremely grateful if there was some rhyme or reason to why you sometimes are able to engage with your kick successfully, and why other times, no matter now furiously you pound the button, your opponentís attack will simply negate yours completely and utterly. Violence Fight has its own internal rhythm. I have grasped it for ephemeral moments on occasion, when I was able to pin an opponent against the ring constraints and drop him, allow him to get up, and drop him again, not using the tried and true pound as fast as you can method, but, Zen-like, accomplishing harmony with the gameís intrinsic rhythm. When you are on this level of oneness with the game (accomplished by fluke, arrived at through patience) you are unstoppable. Let it carry you, let the God-like strength take you as far as it may! When you play the game button mashing style, or too smart, you are rewarded only with frustration to the very extreme.
Play Violence Fight if you see it in the arcades, doubtful as that scenario may be. It is funny to look at, funny to play -- right up until the arbitrary, ever-fickle combat system shows its ass. I revisit it too, sometimes, if only to have the smell of pizza wafting through the air, through time, before the smell of a very bad game takes its place.
Staff review by Marc Golding (December 15, 2003)
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