FIST (Saturn) review
"With such a lackluster assortment of characters, the only solution is to compound the problem with one of the worst assortments of special moves ever envisioned. You know you're in trouble when one of the special moves is literally called Punch! Punch! Punch! and is performed by pressing the punch button three times in a row."
"When you play to FIST you just can't stop that heart from pounding. It's a feeling you've never eaperienced [sic] before. A thrill like wandering through another dimension. And it's all full of a love that's different from the unbearable reality. Is this a dream or an illusion?"
The charmingly decorated instruction manual imposes this philosophical diatribe upon buyers who've been scarred by real life's harsh, unyielding nature. When stress wells up within the mind, fighting games provide mental catharsis through beating virtual people up -- bash China girl Pai's face into a bruised, toothless, bloody pulp and feel good about it. To eschew violence and instead fashion an otherworldly experience is an unusual approach, but it's necessary; no number of gameplay permutations can remove the "Virtua Fighter clone" stigma from a 3D fighter. The way to differentiation is outside the realm of punch and kick; it's all in the mind. The logical conclusion from the instruction manual's heady quote is that this game isn't about fighting; it's about experiencing a blissful alternate reality. A world that people want to escape to, time and time again.
Unfortunately, the designers made their game the video embodiment of hell, and they named it FIST, which is straight-up the bloodiest, manliest, kick-assingest name ever imposed upon a fighting game, let alone a fighting game that's supposed to be "all full of a love". FIST!
It's a damn crying shame that such a rugged name was blown on an adventure where bunny ladies poke sailor-suited schoolgirls' pointy breasts in a vain attempt to become the world's ultimate idol singer. [Note: In Japan, an idol singer is a pop star who dresses up in silly, frilly outfits. Teens and pre-teens love them because they don't know any better.] I crap you not -- even the men aspire to priss and preen on stage and woo a pubeless audience, but to get there they have to win the FIST tournament. I shed manly tears of despair at this flowery waste of a great name!
Characters: 2 out of FIST
Every fighting game needs a cast of great characters, and FIST is still waiting. Included is a big bruiser named Andy and his brother by another mother Arts (who looks suspiciously like Terry Bogard in the instruction manual, but looks more like Paul Phoenix on the screen because the programmers didn't have enough power left to push the polygons for his vest and cap). Those are the men, now bring in the women!
Exhibit one: Marin Aoki
Marin is a Japanese schoolgirl with starch-white skin dressed up in a sailor uniform. Her midriff-baring shirt is way too tight and her panties-revealing skirt is way too short. (They're white.) I'm sure they'd rather blame it on the plenty-powerful Saturn, but programmer limitations ruin the TOTALLY UNIQUE sailor-girl concept; Marin looks like a ceramic Barbie doll with a red smile painted on her flat-shaded polygonal face.
Exhibit two: Dotsuki Masumi
Dotsuki is a little girl dressed up in a raccoon suit. WTF.
Exhibit three: Ai Momoyama
Ai is a schoolgirl with long pink flowing ribbons decorating her flowing blonde hair... in the instruction manual. In the game, she's composed of pointy-jointed, flat-shaded, jaggier-than-PS2 polygons. And she has enormous breasts, which fit her twelve-year-old body like monster truck tires on a Toyota Camry. Her expertise is kicking people in the shins. She wears a band-aid on her nose because Japanese men think battered women are cute.
Exhibits four through six: Not Really Worth Mentioning
Special Moves: 3 out of FIST
With such a lackluster assortment of characters, the only solution is to compound the problem with one of the worst assortments of special moves ever envisioned. You know you're in trouble when one of the special moves is literally called Punch! Punch! Punch! and is performed by pressing the punch button three times in a row. Fortunately, this is balanced by the awesomeness of the secret martial art Kick! Kick! which is performed by -- wait for it -- pressing the kick button twice.
Some special attacks do have incredible names. Although amounting to little more than "a kick to the shin" or "a punch to the stomach", attacks such as Soulcrusher and Shining Rush prove that the developers of FIST are experts at wasting great names.
Coding: ? out of FIST
I'm not privy to the source code, so I can't explain why fists and feet harmlessly pass through the opponents' rectangular legs, bulbous heads, and pointy chests. What I will say is that the game makes no bleeping sense. A CD single (one of those dainty three-inch things) contains the professionally-recorded, vocal introduction song that isn't even used in the game. That doesn't mean the music is bad; it's quite decent, which is an aberration for FIST, all things considered.
That is, until you reach the final boss. On the outskirts of a biological weapons facility, the enormously powerful ex-wrestler Andy (who wants to become an idol singer) attacks without mercy, unleashing hammer throws and body drops! Your raccoon-suited girl is repeatedly knocked to the ground, sending up clouds of chunky polygonal dust. Andy viciously lands a knee in your stomach while you're down, eliciting a painful squeal from your prone, helpless body!
A love song plays in the background.
Final Score: 2 out of FIST
Pretty Fighter X, the developers' previous fighting game that blew chunks but became a cult classic collector's item because it had well-drawn cartoon girls and a yellow "suggestive content" label, was a great marketing move. Its modest success made The Suits happier than happy can be, but the devoted programmers weren't pleased. They had a vision. They had a dream. They had FIST.
Staff review by Zigfried (June 16, 2005)
Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.
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