“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
“Great poets imitate and improve, whereas small ones steal and spoil.”
Gee, I wonder which quote gets tossed around more often: the quote supporting theft, or the one comparing it to curdled milk? Well, here’s some milk way past its expiration date: Fighter’s History.
Fighter’s History is Street Fighter II with a randomizer attached to practically everything good about the game. Special moves and even entire animations have been lifted wholesale from SFII to FH’s cast, and haphazardly distributed so Not-Zangief has Bison’s signature scissor kick, and Very-Not-Guile has acquired a head stomp. It’s blatant, and, for any fan of the genre and Street Fighter II in general, pretty disgusting. It’s Avengers Grimm to Street Fighter’s Avengers.
But theft in an artistic medium is inherently artistic, right?
There are original aspects to Fighter’s History, if you look hard enough. Yes, the principle players here basically are Ken, Ryu, Chun-Li, and even Sagat with the numbers filed off, but there are a few interesting cast members. There’s a female judo practitioner who, yes, is dressed exactly like Ryu, but her “powerful” moves and general personality seem to be a precursor to Street Fighter’s own Makoto (who would debut years later). Marstorius could be a simple Russian grappler clone, but he’s a Grecian wrestler recalling the myths of Heracles and alike, which, if you’re going to randomly pull cultural stereotypes, that one seems a little more appropriate than Brazilian beast-men. And Abe Simpson’s favorite Matlok is a British punk rocker with bombastic movements that could have easily inspired Darkstalkers’ Lord Raptor. Yes, once you get into the gameplay, they’re all clearly Street Fighter knock-offs, but their design and origins aren’t bad.
This “original” game is, nuts and bolts, all about aping Street Fighter, but its coat of paint is generally different. I could easily brush off this game as an uninspired effort to grab some of those sweet Street Fighter quarters, but let’s indulge in the conceit that this is a game someone or some team created as an actual creative (created/creative.. ooooh that’s how that works) pursuit.
Say someone had an idea about a fighting tournament. This tournament was started by a repentant emissary of (a) god, who wished to prove he was the strongest fire-breathing fat man in the world. His direct rival, a purple clad circus clown named Clown, fights against him, as has been the way since the days of yore. Joining the battle for supremacy are fighters from all over the world, from all works of life: a French gymnast, a 20-something delinquent high school student, and even an L.A. Detective who rumbles in front of the United States Capitol, which I’m pretty sure is in Los Angeles. Say someone wanted to present this idea to the masses, but only had skills in spritework and music composition. And it’s 1993 for some reason. Well, obviously, the only way to get this product out to the nation would be to slavishly ditto Street Fighter II, the greatest fighting game of the time and possibly all time, and get Karnov’s Great Fighting Times Fun Game out there. It’s the only thing that makes sense!
Hey, you can’t copyright poetry, man, the person that invented rhyming didn’t horde the idea for himself for all of time, and you can’t claim you own the idea of how some dude throws a projectile at another dude. It’s, like, totally Scène à faire, bro.
At least that’s what some idiot judge decided when Capcom sued Data East for this piece of $%* being the exact same ^&*$ing game as Street Fighter II. Christ, our legal system.
FGC#2 Fighter’s History
- System: Super Nintendo
- Number of Players: 2
- Number of Fighting Games I Ever Expected to See Featuring Matlok: 0
- Number of Fighting Games I Ever Expected to See Featuring Karnov: 1¾
- Did You Know? Clown the clown is actually distinctly noted as homosexual in the Japanese release. Hey, that’s neat, maybe that makes him the first “out” gay character in a fighting game. Good job, guys, maybe you’re not… wait.. what’s this? “Clown is depicted as a homosexual who is attracted to younger men.” Oh. Younger. Always finding new ways to ruin clowns, eh? Stay classy.
- Would I play again? Never. Though, in a way, I’ve been playing it for years.
What’s Next? Random ROB has chosen… Mega Man V (GB). Wow, third pick and it’s a game I actually want to play! Good ROB! Please look forward to it!