Tag Archives: racism

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…

Chrono Cross 07: Dragons

Chrono Cross loves imagining dragons! Look at this chonky boy (well, girl)…

She gets her own isle

The most helpful of the dragons, the Water Dragon, is all smiles and rainbows when you need to chill a volcano, but literally shows her teeth when it is time for a throwdown. And the way she “swims” through the air later? Awesome.

Only a volcano?

And speaking of volcanos, this little guy hulks out to join Master Roshi and Tung Fu Rue in the pantheon of dudes that can turn into muscle maniacs on command. This Fire Dragon is never gracious, but remains polite, when he challenges you to a battle.

Such big teeth you have

Meanwhile, this monster rules the quasi-prehistoric “Savage Land” of Chrono Cross, and is not shy about making it clear you are about to be devoured. And why shouldn’t he? Dang thing is built to deal with tyrannosauruses on the reg.

DO NOT PET

Yet the dragon living deep in the Earth is almost… roly poly? This looks like a creature that has never seen the sun (kind of literally, as it is hard to see if she even has eyes), but has spent a good amount of time getting fat on sand monsters. Sister is the size of a building!

Very unfriendly

But there is nothing friend-shaped about the Black Dragon, which dreams nightmares that cross dimensions. Chrono Cross never really does commit to whether or not “black element” is supposed to be “evil” or somehow “gravity”, but the Black Dragon cuts enough of an imposing figure that he cannot be seen as anything other than dangerous.

They did save us once

And conversely, the white Sky Dragon is appropriately divine. In a genre that frequently presents dragons as the exact same creature seven times with slightly different colors or styles even today (looking at you, Elden Ring), Chrono Cross really went the extra mile by making every dragon significantly different.

Sory, Harle

Even if they did have to involve a murder clown.

Even Worse Streams presents Chrono Cross
Night 7

Original Stream Night: May 31, 2022

Recruited this week:

  • Do Masa & Mune count?
  • Leah

Stream Notes:

  • Time to get the Mastermune! Which involves solving dumb puzzles at Viper Manor! A discussion of Final Fantasy 8 and Chrono Cross summons ensue.
  • There is a brief intermission while fighting Solt and Peppor as I run off to do… something. I literally do not remember what happened…
  • Caliscrub arrives as we try to find BEAT and defeat the possessed Dario.
  • And then Ample Vigour shows up. Dario is still standing. I have not accomplished anything yet.
  • In post-stream response to AV’s comments on the subject, my wife has confirmed that the Smurfs and Donald Duck were generally equally popular in Europe around her childhood. I am inclined to believe her.
  • CroakBEAT arrives just as we finish an important conversation about the legend of the few people that can draw duck bills. We still haven’t finished Dario. And now for more about Disco Elysium.
  • When we finally start fighting the Water Dragon, our first Dragon, we talk about crappy Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat characters. Eat it, Dario.
  • By the time we are fighting the Fire Dragon, the stream is now just about discussing arcade games from the late 90’s
  • As we attempt to get the rock opera going, I defend Battle Arena Toshinden.
  • “Is someone thither?”
  • The concert to end racism leads to the dumbest part of the game: fighting the same lizard creatures over and over again. At least we get some summons going…
  • By the time we are fighting the Earth Dragon, we are discussing the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 film. Jim Carrey is a marvel of CGI technology.
  • We wind up hunting the Green Dragon with Leah, who may or may not be Ayla’s mother? Or daughter? It sucks. Like Sneff.
  • And this stream was a slog. I apologize if you watched it. Moving on!

Next time on Chrono Cross: Robot on Robo violence.

Please don't do that
This is just mean

Chrono Cross 05: How Pretty

So prettyChrono Cross does one thing wonderfully… and the remake mucked it all up.

As has been mentioned on the stream repeatedly, I am talking about graphics. Chrono Cross had some amazing art for its time. In fact, the word “art” seems to be the only way to describe it, as this night’s stream opens with a gorgeous environment that recalls the works of Van Gogh. And that can’t be a coincidence in a videogame where you recruit a painter named Van! Beyond the obvious exquisite dimension, we also have scenic tropical towns, imposing manors, and at least one “dragon castle” that is a stunning mixture of nature and architecture. Looking at any given screenshot from Chrono Cross shows the viewer something that might be expected at The Louvre.

(And if you think I am being hyperbolic, please keep in mind that I was at The Louvre a couple of months back. They have a lot of space to fill, and there are some real dogshit paintings in there. A scene from El Nido would beat the toga off the 7,000th painting of Jesus looking concerned.)

But immaculate thumbnails aside, Chrono Cross has some issues when you adapt its world for modern displays. This was a game originally designed to look great on a television that weighed 50 lbs. and had a display area roughly as large as a Mr. Potato Head. Once you blow that up to the contemporary display that takes up an entire exterior wall, you start to have problems. Chrono Cross is great in its micro-macro, but once its micro bits start showing, you notice things like incomprehensible banners and sub-clip art guitars. The battle arena seen in this stream features a banner that proudly displays “Welcom [sic] Iron Man”, which is not only misspelled, but makes exactly zero sense in a monster fighting tournament conquered by a bunny girl. But who can blame any of the old art directors for Chrono Cross? That banner would have been the size of a chiclet back in the Playstation 1’s day…

Lovin the alienAnd while we’re deep in the angry well, the “shiny” effects that have been added to Chrono Cross HD seem to exist only to repel fans. Absolutely no one played Chrono Cross back at the turn of the century and said, “Well this Starky alien is neat and all, but he should be so much shinier!” Chrome doesn’t work on grays, and making an obviously biological entity appear to be robotic is unmistakably an unfortunate choice.

But since these blurbs are supposed to be outlining the good of Chrono Cross, I will say it again: Chrono Cross can be gorgeous. Just pull your old CRT TV out of the basement, hook up your Playstation with an R/F adapter, and gaze in wonder at the game the way it is meant to be played.

… Or just use that old ass television to play Super Smash Bros. See if I care.

Even Worse Streams presents Chrono Cross
Night 5

Original Stream Night: May 10, 2022

Recruited this week:

  • Sprigg
  • Harle
  • Radius
  • Van
  • Zappa
  • Funguy
  • Norris
  • Starky
  • Irenes
  • Janice
  • Sneff

Random Notes on the Stream

  • We are starting with an exemplary look at graphics. See everything you just read for more information.
  • 2-D Monsters means a discussion on PaRappa beta stuff. It looks like the current best way to see what we were talking about is here.
  • Sorry, girlfriendRacism makes zero sense in this lazy plot. I mean… racism never makes sense, but this specific racism is never fully explored.
  • There is a discussion of Spider-Man and/or Bruce Campbell quipping across videogames. Either one is fine.
  • Welcome to Termina. It’s fucked!
  • Van, across two dimensions, is unhappy. Like Notch.
  • 🎵 Believe it or not, Funguy is now at home. I never thought it could be so great. 🎵
  • Winnie the Pooh is clipping out of bounds at COVID Disney World. Well, technically COVID Epcot.
  • Lavos is responsible for humans being humans… So Ayla isn’t a human?
  • Talkin’ ‘bout a strategy guide talkin’ ‘bout Final Fantasy 7’s Test 0 monster
  • Welcome to the casino pirate ship where we become cats. Not cat boys or cat men, but cats.
  • I was happy to play Marvel vs. Capcom 2 at Game Terminal near Nashville, Tennessee recently. I got the high score!
  • Street Fighter x Tekken: all exclusive characters are terrible.
  • I want Guile to be Sneff separated by dimensions. It’s not happening, but it would be cool.
  • There are a surprisingly high number of optional things to do while in cat mode
  • Fanboymaster literally cannot remember the Chief of Marbule boss battle at all… and no one can blame him.
  • MeowWe enter the monster fight arena to earn Janice. Enjoy that taking forever…
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Sometimes a sword is hot. It is the most anime game BEAT has ever played, and that is saying something.
  • We close with the “Evil Masamune” guarding/wiggling the path forward.

Next time on Chrono Cross: A special guest star for a special future.

Chrono Cross 03: The Planet

Get 'em!You can’t say Chrono Cross doesn’t have its heart in the right place.

Sometimes things get complicated. Not to spoil a twenty-year-old game for anybody, but the main plot of Chrono Cross is a tale of time travel, an intergalactic parasite, and two warring realities that are either inadvertently or deliberately feeding that previously mentioned parasite until it can destroy not only the world, but all of space and time. If Serge fails in his duty as the silent protagonist, not only will 1999 AD face destruction, but also everything that has ever existed backwards and forwards in eternity. But no pressure, dude, not like you also have to deal with the fact that your dad is a mutant cat that wants you for your body, or that the most reliable friend you have is continually being poisoned and/or brainwashed. Not like you have a lot going on in the midst of this cross-dimensional crisis!

But there is a consistent throughline in Chrono Cross: the environment is getting wrecked by humans. The first thing you have to do in this game? Murder some local lizards so your girlfriend can have a nice necklace. The last thing you do in the game? Repel a gigantic flying tower that is somehow powered by an alternate universe where dinosaurs lived in perfect harmony with nature, and it is only here because the planet felt so threatened by humanity, it needed a “super dinosaur” to battle a nation founded by a super computer. … Okay, yeah, things get complicated quickly here, but the message is the same: humanity is a threat to the planet. Over and over again, Serge is presented with a world where people are surviving and living their best lives, but the world is suffering for it. You will kill the local lizards (and their mama!). You will destroy the Dragon Tower and its attendant super dinosaur. You will save the world. But the world might not be 100% on board with these outcomes.

Steal awayAnd this is all perfectly encapsulated at the Hydra Marsh. Kid is poisoned, and the only way to cure her affliction is by killing the last remaining hydra. You can see the difference in Hydra Marshes thanks to dimensional travel (and there’s even a friendly dwarf near Kid’s hospital if you need it spelled out immediately). In the world with the hydra, the swamp is a vibrant location home to many kinds of creatures (albeit most of them are actively trying to kill you). In the world where the hydra has already been hunted to extinction, only true monsters remain, and the swamp has become lethally poisonous. You know what is going to happen if you hunt the hydra on Kid’s behalf. Your world will become worse, and a great many other species are going to die. And, to be more than clear on this sad fact, Chrono Cross does not make this a simple “background” possibility: when you inevitably kill the hydra, the dwarves of Home Swamp will be displaced, and you will then be tugged into a war between homeless gnomes and besieged fairies. With the hydra dead, the viable world is shrinking, and more problems arise immediately. Kid may be saved by hydra humour, but an entire society is going to collapse without it. As the planet cries out in pain, more and more people suffer in ways they never, ever expected…

And, as I played this section a couple weeks before I was in France during a heatwave that escalated over the Summer of 2022 to watching Europe practically melt off the face of the Earth… Well… I can’t fault for Chrono Cross for having at least one clear message.

Maybe we should do something about this whole “humans threatening the world” thing…

Even Worse Streams presents Chrono Cross
Night 3

Original Stream Night: April 26, 2022

Recruited this week:

  • Korcha
  • Greco
  • Razzly

Random Notes on the Stream

  • We all hate Korcha.
  • “There are ranks of -cha”… but Mel does not rank.
  • First dimension hop! Get used to seeing this FMV!
  • It's nice hereFinal Fantasy 13 borrowed some ideas from Lost… Bad ideas. Like fake funerals.
  • Beeba are racist. Just realized that tonight.
  • So many bosses in this stupid swamp. Basically wall-to-wall boss fights of no plot importance.
  • A discussion about Ogre Battle naturally segues into a discussion on how great Queen is
  • There is a discussion of Keenspot and Keenspace and the sheer level of insanity contained therein.
  • We have a boat! Yay! But waves are “moving like a fat guy’s back”.
  • A pirate ship of deadbeat dads is where we close for the day.

Next time on Chrono Cross: Skeletons of all sorts of varieties.

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