Tag Archives: king of fighters

Xenogears 05: In Chains

Soulful BlankaLet us consider what it is to be imprisoned.

Just when he had gained some small measure of contentment as a soldier fighting for the freedom of a nation, Fei Fong Wong was captured by his enemies, and detained in Nortune D Block. D Block was a prison for people from all walks of life, whether they be enemy soldiers, malcontents that threatened the safety of others, or simply those unable to afford the conveniences of modern of society. But while this area seems to be open air and “free” for its downtrodden residents, Fei is outfitted with a bomb collar that will detonate and literally blow his head off if he contravenes the rules. The message is clear: obey or die.

And so Fei is forced, against his will, to do… exactly what he always does.

First, Ricardo “Rico” Banderas attempts to establish the proverbial pecking order by forcing Fei into something like a prison Fight Club. Fei’s indomitable will triumphs, and he trounces those that would battle a man who is barely even awake. This wicked “baptismal” is then followed almost immediately by a recruitment by Imperial Battling Committee Member Rue Cohen. Rue wanted Fei to forsake his fists and once again get in the robot Weltall to (eventually) defeat Rico in Gear combat. Fei was told he would earn his freedom through this act, and that appeared to be the only way Fei would escape his unjust incarceration. In order to have any chance at a life, Fei would have to fight yet again.

And (after an unfortunate bit of sabotage on the part of the champ) Fei fights and is undefeated in the arena. Fei is an excellent martial artist and Gear pilot, so of course he is practically invincible when battling the jalopies of the local residents. This gear is the god-slayer; what hope does W-Shaver have?

This is surprisingly funBut when pilots start going missing, Fei is suspected of being a murderer. Rico, believing Fei to be seeking revenge for any one of many reasons, joins Fei in trying to find “the real killer” either thanks to a feeling of duty or a general fear that Fei is going to murder him next. And how does Fei clear his name? Why, he fights every last mutant in the sewer. Sometimes twice! Eventually, Redrum is discovered and executed for the crime of being a freaky mutant sliming his way around the underground. Was Redrum really responsible for murder? Fei believed so, so Redrum was punched into the stratosphere.

So, complete with solving (“solving”) crimes and fighting in two loose fighting tournaments, was Fei’s life on the inside any different from his existence outside those bars? No. The prison that Fei had created for himself was so much stronger than any bomb collar ever could be. It was the trappings of his own life that kept Fei bound, and he would only find true freedom when the cycle of violence ended.

After he punched about a thousand more soldiers and mutants, of course…

Even Worse Streams presents Xenogears
Night 5

Original Stream Night: February 2, 2021
Night of Battle Arena Toshinden 3

Random Notes on the Stream:

  • Welcome back to the ‘gears. Rico is Soulful Blanka, the saddest of Blankas.
  • And this turns into a history of Blanka / Street Fighter racism.
  • Caliscrub shows up early… but still misses the Blanka fight.
  • BEAT does a Paradise Lost.
  • And now… BEAT found Donald Trump fanfic. We will not discuss such further.
  • Being on stream is “like being alone, but better.” This… might be an own.
  • Hammer has glasses… no one knows why. Why do we have glasses? Nobody knows, either, but at least we can note Hammer’s first appearance.
  • And then we remember all the cartoons we ever liked are a million years old. … Also, Fei had a bomb collar removed. Sorta.
  • Fei lives in a porn universe. Just with robots. There will be no further elaboration on this fact.
  • Dangerous MindsBEAT quotes Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” That’s one of the good ones!
  • If anyone is counting how often we mention Hulk Hogan’s Pastamania, here’s another instance. Soon, we will fight in a fake fighting game.
  • Fei lost his fight due to Weltall exploding… so let’s talk about why the Ninja Turtles chose their weapons.
  • “They built a fighting game into Xenogears and nobody noticed.”
  • We insult Amazon while streaming on Twitch… this may end poorly.
  • “You wanna see something soul-rending?”
  • As we enter the sewers, we talk about the ugliest King of Fighters. I will continue to defend Max.
  • “Mychronics, what a country.”
  • No one knows the lyrics to Rico Suave. But we have to do something to stay sane in this sewer dungeon…
  • “Those are some gross dolphins, dude.”
  • Hey, this was the stream right before Boxboy + Boxgirl times.
  • This sewer is driving us apart as we argue over whether Gamecube games are any good. I am firmly pro-Double Dash.
  • We can at least agree Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time is terrible.
  • This dude is murder backwardsEveryone knows how long it took to get to Redrum. It was forever.
  • “Have you ever found Waldo? It’s a pain in the ass!” … Oh, look, we close as Elly gets her own “meanwhile”. Been a while since we saw her.

Next time on Xenogears: Fei gets early release for good explosions.

It has to be somewhere around here

Chrono Cross 09: Final Boss(es)

Big ol' tickChrono Cross was always a complicated, labyrinthian mess of a game. From the focused infiltration mission of Viper Manor to the redundant and roach-infested remix of the intrusion a few hours later, Chrono Cross never quite knows when to let sleeping dogs lie. There is a dungeon exploring a vision of the future, another dungeon exploring a different vision of the future, and then we cap things off with a dungeon that is a vision of the future and the past (and a dinosaur). And at least one of those future dungeons (it’s the last one) ends with an epic, dramatic boss battle against a morphing opponent that is clearly intended to be the final boss.

And once you beat it, then you get to fight another, more complicated final boss.

We have not come today to roast Chrono Cross’s significant pacing problems. A gigantic dungeon followed by an arduous boss fight (and six extra boss fights in between) should never be followed by talking to ghost children on a one-screen beach before fighting a threat to the universe than cannot even get enough out of its own way to pull off a unique super attack. “Lavos” reeks of a slapdash final addition to the game, and the presentation of everything surrounding it screams of a universe where a bonus finale tying to Chrono Trigger was foisted in at some producer’s behest. We already fought Lavos, guys! And the fight was a lot more interesting last time! There might have been an alien astronaut in there or something!

But, while the final opponent of Chrono Cross is incredibly lackluster, the method of defeating her is not. The Time Devourer may be conquered one of two ways: beat it senseless, or weaponize the harmony of the planet. If you choose to slice and dice what’s left of Lavos, you will see the “bad ending”, but an ending all the same. However, if you acknowledge this is a hostage situation, and the person you are trying to save is, ya know, worth saving, you will be generously rewarded with a Schala/Kid-focused ending that provides a touch more closure. And wasn’t that the whole point of the adventure? To save Schala? I mean, it kind of came out of left field, but it did all line up…. Kinda…

Look at it goLook, it would be easy to be mad at Chrono Cross for trying to have its cake and eat it too with its complicated “real” fight against a dinosaur computer and then a puzzle fight against the true big bad… but you know what? I can count on one hand the number of JRPGs that, up to this very day, end with a boss fight that requires anything but a high strength stat. Are there interesting, intricate final bosses out there? Of course, but so many still boil down to “hit it harder”. The Time Devourer is something different, and, like the rest of Chrono Cross, that is interesting all by itself.

Even if it did mean that nearly everyone else on the stream never bothered to beat Chrono Cross “the real way” before…

Even Worse Streams presents Chrono Cross
Night 9

Original Stream Night: June 14, 2022

Recruited this week:

  • Technically we recruited Poshul again during New Game+, I guess

Random Notes on the Stream

  • Welcome to the final dungeon! Let’s discuss other PS1 final dungeons… except they’re kind of samey.
  • Ample Vigour joins almost entirely through groaning.
  • Look at me!Hulk Hogan kept the Pastamania Regalia. You cannot convince me otherwise.
  • Consider “I love the idea of incel Dracula” and other Castlevania spinoff concepts.
  • The final fighting boss appears as we discuss the possibility of a very bouncy King of Fighters JRPG.
  • What is the true nature of Lavos? Is it an astronaut that looks like a heart?… Or… something?
  • The redesign of Schala for Chrono Cross is discussed… but we all agree it is terrible.
  • We beat the game! We are playing it again! BEAT is playing Smash Bros again! My Switch told me!
  • Let’s fight Lavos all over again! And discuss how Final Fantasy 6’s Cyan is catfishing a woman from a cave.
  • And that’s it for Chrono Cross…. Kinda!

Next time on Chrono Cross: Let’s take a look back at the roads not taken.

It's her
Maybe we could go to the beach sometime?

FGC #634 Martial Champion

So many fighting gamesNot all fighting games are created equal. For every Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, or even Clayfighter, there are a bevvy of games that seem to have been forgotten by all but the most dedicated of fighting game enthusiasts. But that does not mean we can’t learn from these “lost” fighting games! Every fighting game, no matter why they were forgotten, has something to offer. Let’s take a look at some forgotten fighting games, and see why they deserve at least a cursory glance…

King of the Monsters
1991

RAWRWhat is going on here: One of the best games to take place in the far-flung future of 1996, King of the Monsters is the story of what happens when six or twelve legally distinct monsters all decide to rumble and see who will be the titular King of the Monsters. This is bad news for anyone that lives in the future-past Japan that is their battleground, but great for anyone that has ever wanted to see a rock giant fight a snot ghost.

Best Character: Is Astro Guy really a monster? He looks like Ultraman, and there is Beetle Mania over there to be his trademark inexplicable giant bug opponent. Astro Guy wins, as he may be a copy like every other monster, but at least he is the kind of monster that didn’t already appear in Rampage.

What can we learn: King of Monsters was released before “fighting games” became codified with Street Fighter 2 (dropped that same year), so King of Monsters almost feels like a “wrestling game”. It has turnbuckle attacks, an emphasis on grabs, and, most importantly, you have to pin your opponent for three seconds to score a win. And that can be fun! An empty life bar is not a loss in King of Monsters, it just means it will be more difficult to get up when Rocky the Moai power dives on your monster. Extending the match a little longer is great in a game with a scant six playable characters, and it is nice to see the potential for a turnaround despite a theoretical impending loss. Let’s see some last-minute grappling from modern games!

Dino Rex
1992

Big boys starting this offWhat is going on here: Like Primal Rage, this is a 2-D fighter featuring dinosaurs battling for supremacy. Also like Primal Rage, this game absolutely sucks. You’ve got three attack buttons, special moves, combos, and the ability to “charge meter” via shouting, but… Oh man. The central conceit here is that you are technically playing as a scantily clad man controlling a dinosaur via whip, and it sure feels like you have only a whip’s worth of control over your chosen dinosaur.

Best Character: All the humans in this game are generic prehistoric dudes (though, if a match ends in a draw, you can play as one of the dudes, and they curiously have Ryu’s moveset), so we presumably must pick a favorite dinosaur here. And is it possible to pick a dinosaur that is not the mighty Tyrannosaurus? It might be purple again, but it is still a goddamned t-rex.

What can we learn: Dino Rex is a bad fighting game for the fact that you are very likely to lose because it is difficult to confirm whether your controller is working at all, but sometimes it feels good to get your ass kicked, because it also kicks everyone else’s asses. The storyline for Dino Rex posits this is an annual dinosaur fighting tournament to win the hand of an Amazon Queen, so there are spectators, and an arena built up for this yearly battle. And, since dinosaurs are fighting, it gets absolutely wrecked. It is fun to watch the surrounding area get destroyed by careless dinosaurs! And someone on staff evidently noticed, as the bonus stage is controlling your dinosaur in a “dream sequence” that sees a modern city getting similarly smashed. So if you’re going to make a bad fighting game, at least let us destroy everything in it.

Martial Champion
1993

What is going on here: One of Konami’s rare, early fighting games (they were more into beat ‘em ups), this is a pretty obvious Street Fighter 2 clone where a bunch of international weirdos are all punching and kicking in an effort to become… I don’t know… some kind of Martial Arts Champion or something. Your attack options are limited to three buttons (high, mid, low), and there are a total of ten selectable characters (and one unplayable boss).

Best Character: Avu is a tempting choice, as he is basically Karnov (he’s even got fire breath!), but I’m going to choose Bobby. Not only does he have the best name, but he seems to exist as an obvious example of “Well, Guile looks kinda American, but is there any way we can crank that up to ten million?”

What can we learn: Martial Champion has a variable weapon system! Kinda! Some fighters have weapons, and said weapons can be knocked out of a fighter’s hands. And the opponent can retrieve these weapons! And… maybe do nothing? If a fighter doesn’t have a weapon to begin with, it seems they do not have any abilities with any weapons. But! Even if you can’t use it, playing keep away with a weapon is good fun. Thought you had increased range with that scimitar before, loser? Now you’re not getting it back until a knock down. Good luck!

Now let’s talk about Shaq-Fu…

FGC #610 Samurai Shodown (Franchise)

So badassI have learned that I am here for the weirdos.

Samurai Shodown is not my franchise. I am a fighting game fan, and have been since I first saw a furry Soviet dude power slam some guy with too many skulls. But, by the time Samurai Shodown was appearing in my local arcade, there was already a myriad of options that more easily drew my attention. If I wanted a basic 2-D fighting game, I’d play Street Fighter 2. If I wanted to see a little super violence, I’d play Mortal Kombat. If I wanted to see a weapons-based fighter, I’d play Soul Edge/Soulcalibur. If I wanted to plug some quarters into a Neo Geo machine, I’d go with something along the lines of King of Fighters (Fatal Fury also qualifies there). Hell, even vaguely recognizable, possibly historical figures fighting was available in World Heroes, and that game had a mecha-Hitler you could pummel into the pavement. In short, Samurai Shodown held the unfortunate position of being a fighting game that looked pretty good, but was also popular at the exact same time some of the best fighting games of the era were receiving routine updates/players. Or, put another way, not only is Cammy going to grab my attention faster than Neinhalt Sieger, there are also a few more potential opponents crowded around her cabinet. Sorry, SamSho, I’ll get to you in another thirty years.

And… uh… here we are.

On my grand list of games I want to cover before this FGC project ends (I currently claim I am stopping at FGC #655… a full hundred articles past the last point I said I would stop…), I have a meager handful of fighting games remaining. Every title from that first paragraph has been examined and reexamined (sometimes ad nauseum), so now we are down to fighting games that are… let’s say… exploratory? Games wherein I do not have encyclopedic knowledge of ridiculous plots or muscle memory that will allow me to toss out down-downforward-forward-punch fireballs until three years after I’m dead. Some of these “unexplored” games on the list are amusing misfires, but I will admit I was expecting a lot of the Samurai Shodown franchise. After all, I had at least played this in the past, and, though these play sessions may have been tremendously shorter than any time I spent with Guilty Gear, they were enjoyable. And I always appreciated the Samurai Shodown characters that appeared in other games. That bird with the hawk? She seems nice! It should be fun and enlightening to play through the Samurai Shodown Neogeo Collection and see what this glorious franchise has in store.

And I found it… underwhelming.

Get 'em lil dudeTo be clear, “underwhelming” is the exact word for this situation. None of the Samurai Shodown titles appear to be outright bad. The gameplay primarily seems to be focused more on defense than offense, but, make no mistake, you can attain a victory by going in with swords blazin’. Or maybe no swords! Characters in most of the games seem to have two distinct playstyles: with or without weapon. Be disarmed as the result of a button mashing contest, and you have to rely on your fists for a moment or two, which makes for a fun change in tactics. It’s like you’re playing as two characters at once! I am always down for that! And, while the “Engrish” and general story is simultaneously noteworthy and forgettable, there is definitely something happening here. Bushido and all that riot is great, but I am going to stand at attention when some nerd cuts down a pair of trees without even trying. Oh, and who doesn’t like some random dude running around in the background of battles tossing off powerups? There is good stuff here in Samurai Shodown!

But it all felt very… slippery. Not talking about the controls, mind you, those are perfect and responsive. Just, somehow, the whole experience felt forgettable. Like whether my chosen samurai won was going to be quickly forgotten. Or, perhaps, how my fighter won was what would be forgettable. I understand that, once again, this is not my game, so it is entirely possible I was missing something, but the general reason I won any given match seemed nebulous. And, in a fighting game, that makes everything feel unusually light. Across the multiple Samurai Shodown games, there are multiple ways to win a match… Or… More accurately, there are multiple ways to practically instantly drain a life bar. And, while slicing off the limb of an opponent feels like it should be remarkable, when you stumble on “I guess that special move just does that sometimes” it feels… wrong. Did I really win? Or was that more of an accident than my usual victories? Whatever the root cause of the issue, this made the various SS titles feel insubstantial in their gameplay.

MAGIC!But that does not have to be the be all and end all of a fighting game. A fun cast can completely rescue confusing gameplay. The previously mentioned World Heroes was not a great game by any means, but it did include a football player fighting Jack the Ripper, so it more than qualifies for gold status. Samurai Shodown’s cast meanwhile… Well, it is hard to judge some of these characters in 2021, as, like Samurai Shodown itself, there are clear examples of “this was done better elsewhere” through the decades. Like World Heroes already had a pretty good Joan de Arc analogue, so Charlotte is lacking. Haohmaru, the games’ marquee hero, feels like a lesser Mitsurugi of Soulcalibur. Hanzo the ninja could not be any more generically “this is our ninja” if he tried, and I’d rather pick up Red Earth if that is all that is available. Weller the American “I wanna be Japanese” character is so much more distinctive as Bang of BlazBlue, and I’m pretty sure Kyoshiro Senryo was one of the final bosses in that Simpsons beat ‘em up. It is no wonder that Nakoruru wound up as the persistent Samurai Showdown rep, as “has a bird” separates her from much of her fighting game sorority (though her general “fighting shrine maiden” thing causes her to blend into the anime trope ether).

But there was one character that seemed tremendously less forgettable than his contemporaries: Genan Shiranui, aka the little green guy with a claw.

Get 'emArguably, this is another example of “done elsewhere”, as Genan and his obvious spiritual brother, Earthquake, both resemble SNK/King of Fighters characters Choi Bounge and Chang Koehan. And if you wanted to claim that it was a coincidence that there was a King of Fighters influence, please note that Genan’s surname is Shiranui, the same as Mai Shiranui, heroine of Fatal Fury and King of Fighters. And, oh yeah, Mai (or at least her identical, historically appropriate ancestor) outright appears in Genan’s Samurai Shodown (1) ending. So, ya know, wearing influences on their sleeve there.

But Genan is memorable all on his own. He is green. He is wearing torn clothing that tells more of a story with visuals than Jubei can hope to muster with an entire story mode. He is constantly licking a metal claw, which is probably unsanitary. His background involves implied cannibalism. He apparently has a pair of kids that hide in his sack-clothes. This is the exact kind of eccentricity I want from a fighting game character, and it was clear right from the first Samurai Shodown that Genan was gonna be my guy.

And then the franchise dropped him like a rotten potato as of Samurai Shodown 3. Dammit! Only two games for my green meanie!

While I tried to soldier on with some pale dork with blue hair… it just wasn’t the same. I have to assume that Genan was nixed in an effort to make Samurai Shodown slightly more realistic (in a universe where people routinely, graphically die before being revived by a quarter), or to pad out the roster with slightly more distinctively “Samurai Shodown” characters (there was that brief period in the 90’s when crossovers and/or homages were considered bad). Whatever the cause, Genan was gone before we truly knew ye, and, in his absence, everything about Samurai Shodown became slippery again. Oh, build up a rage meter to do super moves? Ho-hum. I don’t want red skin. I want it green, dammit! And, given how the franchise seemed to drift into generally more serious settings over time, I was convinced Samurai Shodown was never going to have an entry that was “for Goggle Bob”. Not the end of the world, there are plenty of fighting game franchises that I can enjoy; but it would be a hard confirmation that this wasn’t “for me”.

Then I got to Samuri Shodown 6. Then I got to this nonsense…

What is even happening here?

That appears to be some manner of ancient puppet automaton, and it is fighting… a dog. Just a dog.

I am here for that.

Samurai Shodown 6 is a “dream match” title that includes a playable version of practically every character that had appeared in Samurai Shodown up to that point. Genan is back. Earthquake is back. That big red guy that was a mix of Genan and Earthquake is back. The flag dude hidden character is back. And speaking of “hidden” characters, every pet and animal is playable, too. Are they effective? Not remotely. But sometimes you just want to play as a monkey. It worked for Eternal Champions (no it didn’t). And the new characters of Samurai Shodown 6, like a swan-turned-maid and a chubby guy who really likes fireworks, all exude a noticeable air of levity. Ocha-Maro Karakuri, that mobile puppet up there, seems positively mundane in a roster that includes an anime pretty boy that is based on historical jackass/president Andrew Jackson.

DO NOT LIKEAnd it wasn’t until I hit Samurai Shodown 6 that I realized that this kind of nonsense is exactly what I want. Who have I always gravitated towards in other fighting games? Blanka. Tung Fu Rue. Cyrax. The misfits. The absolute last fighter I ever pick is your typical Ryu or Bruce Lee clone du jour. My favorite fighting game is a title wherein you can have a multi-tentacled god team up with a teeny tiny robot servant working alongside a member of S.T.A.R.S. This is why the other Samurai Shodown titles seemed boring to me! I simply cannot enjoy a videogame unless the character select screen includes a healthy number of people that have absolutely no business being in any sort of polite society, left alone a videogame (sorry, Dr. Faust, you know it is true). Apparently I do not care if there is an amazing combo system, intuitive gameplay, or the best netcode in the universe. All I want is some dork cosplaying as Freddy Krueger (and, no, actual Freddy doesn’t count).

Is Samurai Shodown ever going to be “my” fighting game franchise? No. But does it remind me what I actually want in a fighting game? Absolutely. Give me a little green weirdo any day of the week, and I’ll give your game a fair shake.

And if you want to have a brand new, modern edition of your franchise, and you choose to drop said weirdo? Well, don’t expect me to buy a season pass anytime soon…

FGC #610 Samurai Shodown (Franchise)

  • OuchSystem: Samurai Shodown is supposedly the fighting game that put the Neo Geo on the map. But I don’t see no King of Samurai ’99 on my Playstation! Whatever! The franchise has been on practically every system from a certain epoch (take a look at that Gameboy version sometime), but the collection is currently available on (mostly) modern consoles like Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. Most of what you see here is via Switch and PS4.
  • Number of players: This isn’t Super Samurai Bros, so two players.
  • Who let the dogs out? Perhaps, once you get past the violence, rage, and weapon-combat, the defining characteristic of Samurai Shodown is how many fighters have pets and other auxiliary sprites as “backup”. It would certainly explain why bird-lady is so heavily featured in crossovers…
  • Favorite Character (not the green guy): It’s the red guy. Youkai Kusaregedo is a gigantic monster that first appeared in Samurai Shodown 5. He is described as an undead devil that was a “very kind man” in life, but was also a cannibal. That… is certainly a type of kind. Regardless, now he is a hulking beast, and I am only mildly disturbed by the fact that his canon story is that, in a fit of hunger, he devoured his pregnant daughter. I like playing as him, but I’m not inviting him to Christmas dinner anytime soon.
  • Land of the Rising Fun: I am required by law to note my favorite bit of Engrish from Samurai Shodown 2.

    Funster!

    As a noted funster, this had to be logged.

  • Lost in Translation: Maybe Samurai Shodown is supposed to be funny, but got lost in translation? Like, there are some goofy, tropey fighters skulking around, and maybe their intrinsic humor doesn’t come through in a different culture. Nicotine Caffeine has to have something going on here.
  • Let's go nutsThe Black Swan: Iroha is a scantily clad maid premiering in Samurai Shodown 6. She was previously a swan, but transformed into a woman wielding guillotines so as to get closer to her master. And that master? They are supposed to be the player. So, yes, this character is a walking fetish in more ways than one. Is it any wonder she got her own spin off game, and was some of the earliest DLC for the latest Samurai Shodown?
  • Favorite Samurai Shodown Title: As if it was not obvious, Samurai Shodown 6 wins here. The recently released Samurai Shodown 5 Gold is very close to 6’s complete nonsense, but, to my knowledge, you cannot play as a dog in Gold. You can do that in 6. Twice.
  • Did you know? The one character that had been previously playable but is not in Samurai Shodown 6 is Hikyaku, the delivery man that runs through the background in other Shodown titles. He was playable in the Gameboy port of Samurai Shodown as a bonus for anyone that deigned to play a Neo Geo fighting game on the friggen’ Gameboy, but was never available on a big boy system. If you are unfamiliar with the Samurai Shodown franchise, Here we go againjust imagine a playable version of the postman from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask. This is also a likely explanation for why he was never seen again.
  • Would I play again: There are so many good fighting games out there! Maybe I’ll hit the modern SamSho when all the DLC is on sale/includes my boy.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… The Misadventures of Tron Bonne! We’re going to go on a misadventure, Miss Tron! Please look forward to it!