Fighting Vipers (Saturn) review
"Fighting Vipers was the unheard voice back when the Arcade vs. Consoles debate was at its peak. While ported games like Virtua Fighter, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat were scrutinized under the limelight when compared to their Arcade counter-parts, Fighting Vipers was snuck into the home market without much fanfare. Over eight years later, despite the fact that it wasnít recognized at its time, FV is held as one of the most solid fighting titles for the Satur..."
Fighting Vipers was the unheard voice back when the Arcade vs. Consoles debate was at its peak. While ported games like Virtua Fighter, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat were scrutinized under the limelight when compared to their Arcade counter-parts, Fighting Vipers was snuck into the home market without much fanfare. Over eight years later, despite the fact that it wasnít recognized at its time, FV is held as one of the most solid fighting titles for the Saturn.
FV takes place in the busy city of Armston, a location where teenagers from all of over the streets would equip armor and participate in caged fights. In a bold political move, the Mayor of the city announced a new sport based off of this fighting, making it an official tournament each year. Amongst the fighters is Raxel the Rocker, Grace the Rollerblader, and Picky the Skateboarder and a slew of other colorful, but at the same time disgustingly, stereotypical characters.
As you choose your fighter and come upon the first battle, you can't help but feel that FV is just another Virtua Fighter clone. The menus are set up the same, and the character select screen is suspiciously familiar. But all suspicions will be throw out once the first match has started.
VF's fighting is a more toned down, flexible rendition of what you play in Virtua Fighter. The fighters move more fluidly, quickly, and there's no confusion with the simplistic control scheme. You have your basics: guard, kick, and punch buttons. The other three triggers on the controller are there to combine the triggers (punch+kick, punch+kick+guard, etc.) which comes in handy once you succumb to the delightfulness of fighting,
The fighting itself is based around the fighterís armor. The more blows you do to the opponent, the more their armor will weaken. If you strike them with a particularly powerful blow, their armor will fly off completely, dropping their defense immensely. In addition, the game emphasizes heavily on juggle attacks where you juggle your opponent into the air with stringed moves and combos. The possibilities here are limitless; every move in the character's arsenal can seamlessly be integrated into an air combo. This makes the player feel that they are creating their own combos on the fly.
And despite the flexible fighting engine, all the characters are surprisingly well balanced, an issue that has plagued various fighters of this era. Each fighter feels pretty much the same as far as agility and power goes, but their distinct power-moves (that weaken the armor) are what set their styles apart.
The downfalls of FV resides in its presentation. The visual aspect of the game isn't anything horrible, but itís not anything to brag about either. The fighters are blocky and the polygon count has taken a noticeable blow in the conversion from the Arcade. The battlegrounds themselves lack focus and are uninspired. The only interesting part of fighting in these stages is that you can knock your opponent through the wall and out of fighting arena as a finishing move. Yeah, we've visited skyscrapers, boxing rings, and airports before. Where's something new?
Likewise, the music is abnormally intolerable despite the fact the Sega has composed solid soundtracks in the past with their new age guitar riffs and synthesized effects. The battle cries themselves sound low-quality and out of tune (what's with the all the ruckus when you break a wall? Criminy).
The developers recognized these shortcomings and introduced a handful of play modes for this port. However, only two of them (Arcade and Versus) are worthwhile (who wants to watch exhibition matches of two CPU opponents?)
Fighting Vipers is a solid fighting game that has an unfortunate lukewarm presentation. A few extra months under the developer's eye really could have turned this game into a contender amongst the more popular fighting franchises. (-Shin 1/18/2004)
Community review by shinnokxz (January 19, 2004)
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