Tag Archives: regular sized robots

Wild Arms 3 Part 32: For Whom the Cat Meows

Put on your bib, because today is December 5, Tenderloin Day. The tenderloin of a livestock is the region of meat along the backbone. By this definition, the tenderloin of a cake is the creamy frosting on top.

Previously on Wild Arms 3: Our team climbed a clock-themed tower. After clearing a number of traps that had the solution of “talk to the Baskar guy”, they have reached the apex.


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Or… just about. We quit last time in an elevator.


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Now we’re on top!


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A few treasures to greet us at the chock. The chocktower is complete.


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And now for the fireworks.


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This is Alice in Wonderland, and Janus has always been the hare that leads Virginia down the rabbit hole.


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Asgard is… I dunno… Tweedle Dum.


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Gee, do you think maybe they both work for the same guys? Aren’t you supposed to be the smart one…

FGC #637 Tekken’s Nina Williams in Death by Degrees

TEKKENTekken’s Nina Williams in Death by Degrees is disappointing for a few key reasons. First of all, the game sucks and playing it is the digital equivalent of having your ears fed to a particularly smelly lawnmower. But more importantly, the Tekken franchise has an amazingly huge cast of characters, and Nina Williams is about 70th from the top on rankings of exciting characters. She’s the woman! And she’s a spy! That’s it! Tekken has at least two Taekwondo-master street fighters, and neither of them would have to infiltrate a cruise ship to produce an engaging videogame.

So, with this in mind, we are going to look at all the potential Tekken spin-off titles that could have taken the place of Tekken’s Nina Williams in Death by Degrees in 2005. Even as of the release of Tekken 5 (a year before Death by Degrees), Tekken had an extremely deep bench of fighters and potential genres.

Oh, and we’re going to ignore the Mishima family, too. They have had their time to shine, and we don’t need to see that family feud featured in Tekken spin-offs. Just consider anytime you play a game where “Tekken Force” exists to be their natural byproduct.

So with those rules set, maybe we could look at…

Tekken’s Bryan Fury in God of Rage

Friendly dudeWho are you: Bryan was introduced in Tekken 3 while the franchise was just growing out of its “rival roster” phase from Tekken 1 & 2. Replacing Bruce Irvin, Bryan was the obvious unrepentant criminal meant to contrast super cop Lei Wulong. But, right from the get go, the developers decided to emphasize that “unrepentant” aspect, and, as early as Tekken 3’s ending, he became an unstoppable vengeance zombie that would destroy everyone and every thing in his path. Pretty sure I saw the dude tear a tank in half… and wouldn’t that be a great concept for a game?

Elevator Pitch: It’s God of War, but with a regular dude. Fists are your main method of beating ‘em up, but you can grab anything from small firearms to tank turrets for additional carnage. If there is a single living thing left in the time zone after completing a level, you do not get A rank.

Other Cameos: We could throw Lei Wulong in there for a recognizable antagonist hero, but maybe make him stick to cutscenes. We can’t kill a big boy like him, and it goes against the spirit of a Bryan Fury game to leave any man standing. Depending on where we want to be in the timeline, either mad scientist Dr. Abel or good-mad scientist Dr. Bosconovitch can work in a support role. Or Bryan can be wrecking a robot army invented by either doctor if the producers want to be cowards. There are options!

Likelihood of success: High. You cannot go wrong with a HD game featuring a white dude on a rampage. And Bryan is as white as it gets!

Tekken’s Julia Chang in Aztec Tomb Raider

She's athleticWho are you: Julia was introduced in Tekken 3 as the “next generation” replacement for Michelle Chang. Both characters seemed to fill the slot of “one Native American per fighting game”, though they both separated themselves from the rest of the 90’s dudes by being dudettes with exactly zero thunder powers. Weird! The Changs were also unique for having an obvious intellectual inclination over their “spiritual” cousins. This all adds up to two important facts: Julia would be ideal for exploring centuries-old ruins across Mexico, and she would have the brains to solve ancient traps/puzzles contained therein.

Elevator Pitch: It’s Tomb Raider with historically-accurate tombs. Or… ruins? Is anyone actually buried at Chichén Itzá? No matter. Let Julia explore the place. If you want to put an emphasis on pummeling some thieving imperialists, you can also include Julia’s secret luchador identity as a powerup. Take ‘em down, Jaycee!

Other Cameos: Ogre was established as a Native American monster, so sealing and/or (accidentally) releasing him could be the entire point of the exercise. If nothing else, his True Ogre form would make for an interesting boss fight somewhere. Raven could also cameo as a “rival” tomb raider, as he is agile, adept, and willing to put in the work for some extra scratch.

Likelihood of success: Probably medium. Julia isn’t the same draw as a number of other Tekken characters, and “explore ruins, solve puzzles” as a genre just hasn’t been the same since someone went and invented escape rooms. Still, it is extremely videogame-y, so there is the possibility for a hit.

Tekken’s Tiger Jackson in Dancing All Night

Also Jimmy can come, tooWho are you: Tiger Jackson has never had much of a backstory in the Tekken universe proper. He usually shows up for cameos and “dream match” games, and he has existed as little more than a costume for years. That said, we do know one thing about Tiger Jackson: he loves to dance!

Elevator pitch: It’s a rhythm game with the fantastic Tekken soundtrack. The end. It worked for Persona, it will work for Tekken.

Other Cameos: Tiger Jackson’s body buddy, Eddy Gordo, is an obvious first choice for the second player. Similarly, Christie Monteiro has to be the lady of the party. Beyond that? Hell, just go ahead and include everybody. Who doesn’t want to see Wang Jinrei shake a leg to Eternal Paradise?

Likelihood of success: High with a very specific audience. The Tekken franchise isn’t known for its music, but I have never seen a fighting game fan disparage the various Tekken soundtracks. So an opportunity to interact with these banger ditties in a format that isn’t exclusively about punching people in the face? You know there is a huge percentage of the gaming population that would jump on a chance to go all Theatrhythm on this fighting franchise.

Tekken’s Kuma in Bear Rancher

Is bearWho are you: Okay, technically Kuma is involved in the Mishima “main story” of Tekken, but he does not have any Mishima blood, as he is a bear. And, more importantly, the “current” Kuma is not the original Kuma, but the son of the previous Kuma. What does this mean? It means Heihachi raised at least one bear from infancy to become an unstoppable fighting force. And if you do not want to play a game where you work on raising the stats of a bear until it can fight humans in a fighting tournament, then I don’t want to talk to you.

Elevator pitch: It’s Monster Rancher, but with the greatest monster of all: a bear. Do odd jobs with Kuma, work your way up through a few kiddy battle leagues, and eventually become the greatest bear/bear trainer that has ever been. Maybe you can even dress up your bear somewhere in there.

Other cameos: Tekken has quite the menagerie of animal fighters, so you have a lot of options for opponents and potential training partners. Panda would make the most obvious rival (complete with her own trainer, Xiaoyu), but Roger or Roger Jr. of the prestigious fighting kangaroo line are also available. If you want to get crazy, go ahead and include Alex the boxing raptor. It feels like a raptor would be too overpowered, but those boxing gloves should keep things under control.

Likelihood of success: 50/50. Videogame history has proven that any animal raising sim is a crap shoot. Which will it be: the next Pokémon, or the next Digimon? Princess Maker, or its army of imitators? It is hard to say how popular Kuma Rancher could be, but it does seem like the kind of release that would reward an audience for bearing with his foibles.

Tekken’s Jack in Jack Wars

Such musclesWho are you: Jack has been a mainstay of the Tekken franchise from the beginning. And, while there has been some canon finagling to confirm that every Jack since Tekken 2’s Jack-2 has had some variation on the same consciousness, Jack is most popularly known as a plural entity. There have been many, many Jacks built across the Tekken timeline, and he has proven to be an army all on his own on multiple occasions. So why not get something like a TRPG together where literal armies of Jacks fight? Seems like a good way to spend the afternoon.

Elevator pitch: It’s Advance Wars, but instead of tanks and soldiers, it is all Jacks. Or maybe we could include a few other Tekken bots…

Other cameos: The opening stages would inevitably be Jack-on-Jack combat (Jack, P-Jack, and Gun Jack have an evident progression), but how about later levels include other notable robots? Lee/Violet could be hatching a new plan with his Combot, so it seems Jack will have to deal with squares occupied by robots that can emulate anyone else in the franchise. And speaking of fighting mimics, enchanted training dummy Mokujin has a family of wooded buddies, so they would be an excellent rival army, too. And what’s that? There is also the metal Tetsujin, too? Be the true king of iron fists, Jack!

Likelihood of success: Low. Tactical RPGs have gotten popular in recent years, but only in franchises where all the army units can kiss. There is no smooching for Jack, so it is unlikely he will see any success outside of the battlefield. Then again, not like Tekken is completely alien to grid armies

Tekken’s Jun Kazama in Secret Origins

Sure looks familiarWho are you: Jun Kazama appeared in Tekken 2, fell in love with the game’s final boss, bore an heir, Jin Kazama, and then disappeared forever. Despite the fact that Ogre supposedly had a prodigious murder count in Tekken 3, every one of his “confirmed kills” has returned to service in the intervening games, and now Jun is the only one still in the grave. Or is she? The Tekken franchise could be trying to pull a fast one here, which could lead to a great…

Elevator Pitch: It’s the Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core of Tekken. Sometimes all a game needs is a decent story, and passable gameplay to keep things going. Jun was established as an excellent fighter and Wildlife Organization Officer, so there are plenty of ways to get her out and active before her featured time in Tekken 2. And then the story can follow a young, single, psychic mother as she performs the final missions that eventually led to her child being an orphan. Just make the game remotely engaging in the meanwhile, and it doesn’t matter if the whole thing has a downer ending.

Other cameos: Aside from including a Kazuya that could be showing a little more of his tender side (have to find some kind of excuse for why these crazy kids got together), Unknown is another obvious pick for Jun’s story. It is clear that creepy, goo-covered creature has always had some kind of connection to Jun, and there is no reason we can’t just bite the bullet and make her the Genesis to Jun’s Zack. Bonus points if Unknown is super talkative before some tragic/inevitable horrible accident.

Likelihood of success: Something like 70%. Like all fans, dedicated Tekken admirers will buy damn near anything if it includes the all-important lore. On the other hand, not including such in a fighting game in a fighting game franchise may be a bit of a miss. Can Tekken 8 just be all about the search for Jun through massive pummeling? It might be a nice direction for the Kazama kids.

Tekken’s Yoshimitsu in Weapon Fighter

I know this oneWho are you: Yoshimitsu is a warrior ninja that has arrived for every Tekken tournament in one form or another. His armor style may change between episodes, but one thing is always constant about Yoshimitsu: he has got a sword, and he isn’t afraid to use it. And wouldn’t it be nice if he were in a fighting game where it did not seem unsporting to whack an unarmed man with a katana?

Elevator pitch: A weapons-based fighting game starring…. Oh… Oh wait. I just invented Soulcalibur, didn’t I? Crap… uh…. Um…

Other cameos: Apparently even KOS-MOS could appear in this alternate franchise.

Likelihood of success: Proven to be infinity. I guess there is at least one way to make a successful Tekken spinoff…

FGC #637 Tekken’s Nina Williams in Death by Degrees

  • This sucksSystem: Playstation 2, and then never seen anywhere ever again. Do not expect this to appear on any Tekken collections or virtual consoles.
  • Number of players: A proper fighting game includes two players, and even good beat ‘em ups manage to pull off the same. Death by Degrees cannot be good in any conceivable way, so it is single player.
  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: This is so bad, you guys. It is hard to believe that the same franchise that has returned such a consistently good series of fighting games is responsible for something like the worst beat ‘em up/action title on the Playstation 2. Everything about this feels so… wrong. The simple act of punching is a chore, and punching is the number one thing you should be doing. Mix in Resident Evil-style “puzzles” that would never stump a kindergartener, and… It’s just so bad!
  • Favorite Weapon: I guess it is nice when you get to swing around a katana for no reason. I mean… the reason is you want dudes dead, but this seems like a weird game to include random swords.
  • Say something nice: The hacking mini games are at least inoffensive. There isn’t, like, a lose condition where your controller convulses and transforms to kick you square in the nuts. That’s nice.
  • Goggle Bob Fact: I am sure it is mentioned on the stream somewhere, but this is the first game I purchased, played up to the tutorial, and then quit because the tutorial was too annoying. In fact, this may be the only game that holds that distinction. So I have not liked this game for a good, long while.
  • Watch it, Buddy: Yes, this game was played on the Even Worse stream on two separate occasions.


    Stream Date: June 15, 2021


    Stream Date: January 11, 2022

    No, I will not be streaming it again. Apparently I was less than a third of the way through the game, and there is no way I can deal with that anymore.

  • Did you know? Heihachi and Anna Williams are the only “guest” characters in the game beyond Nina, and Heihachi mostly only appears in phone calls. A possible collection of some of the most recognizable fighters in the genre here, and someone decided all we needed were a couple of people with bad hair.
  • Would I play again: I already answered that question, and I will not entertain it again.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Mega Man Legends 2! Speaking of games from streams, it is time to see the final adventure of Rock Man Dash! Please look forward to it!

THE MEAT FIGHT
Never before have I been so upset with a meat fight

FGC #635 Rocket Knight

Let's rocket alongThe Rocket Knight franchise is a great collection of games starring a possum with a jetpack. Did you see the way he dangles on his little tail? Totally adorbs. Unfortunately, these four games contain one of the most confusing naming schemes in the history of gaming. So let us take a quick break to review the games starring Sparkster, and delineate which games appeared when and where. This will simultaneously be informative and note how many games contain giant robots (it’s all of them).

Rocket Knight Adventures
1993
Sega Genesis
The Original

This is so coolIf there is a reason there is a “Rocket Knight” franchise in any tangible way, it is because of this game. And not just because this is the one that started it all! Rocket Knight Adventures is clearly a labor of love by a team that not only was interested in what was next for gaming in 1993, but also Konami’s illuminous past.

As an obvious example of Sparkster showcasing what was contemporary in gaming, we have how this awesome possum moves. This little dude is all about speed, and, complete with a jetpack perpetually tied to his back, Sparky is ready to literally fly through levels. But, while much of the level design is built around seeing how far you can get this rocket knight to ricochet around the world, it is not all simply spin-dashing to a brighter future. This knight and his projectile-blade recalls the combat of Mega Man X, and giant, mechanical bosses would be right at home in any Maverick lineup.

Oh, and there’s a minecart stage. You do not get anymore 16-bit than a minecart stage.

But there are also homages to the past of gaming littered across this (then) modern title. For one thing, one of the shoot ‘em up stages straight up includes a pig piloting a Gradius big core. It isn’t remotely subtle! And there are some some more understated “old school” bits tossed around Sparkster’s world, too. It is clear that this game was created by people that were beholden to the glorious arcade past of Konami (or they, ya know, worked there. Could go either way).

Regardless of the reason, Rocket Knight Adventures perfectly balances the contemporary (animal mascot platformers that gotta go fast) with the (oftentimes difficult) past of Rocket Knight’s ancestors. And, couple this with a few amazing gimmick levels (did I mention the giant robot rocking and socking boss?), and Rocket Knight Adventures is a sight to behold.

Sparkster
1994
Super Nintendo
The Port

Play the hitsIn America, the only Rocket Knight title to ever launch on a Nintendo console is simply “Sparkster”. In Japan, it goes by the longer title, “Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2”. So which is it? A parallel game on an entirely difference videogame system, or a sequel that hopped between platforms? The answer is… confusing.

In a lot of ways, this game feels like an example of the 16-bit mainstay of a game appearing in two totally different versions across two systems. Much like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, this initially looks like two Konami games both playing to their system’s respective strengths. Sparkster seems to showcase a more expressive rodent that moves at a faster clip (yes, Virginia, the SNES was capable of its own kind of blast processing), but entirely drops “hardware tricks” like the Genesis reflection lava cave. The graphics are entirely different, and seem to be deliberately adapted for the different color palette and more integrated HUD. And the plot is much the same (for a 16-bit game), with wolves in place of pigs, and Axel Gear still on the side of the devils.

But then there are bits that seem to paint this as a deliberate sequel. The shoot ‘em up sections have now changed from Gradius-style 2-D horizontal shupping to a top-down, 1942-esque vertical affair. We have lost our giant robot boss fight, but replaced it with a stage full of ridable giant robot ostriches. This satisfies our robot quotient and supplicates the need for a minecart. And, if you really need some giant robots, plenty are offered as all-new, all-different bosses. Sparkster does feel like an improvement over its predecessor in a lot of ways, but not all of those upgrades cannot simply be attributed to moving between systems.

Regardless of how it was created, Sparkster is still an amazing experience. It does not feel quite as artisanal as its prequel/portmate, but it is still one of the best platforming games on the Super Nintendo. And that’s pretty amazing, considering this is the same system that hosted Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit!

Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2
1994
Sega Genesis
The Real Sequel

I do not care for sandOkay, maybe the Super Nintendo game is supposed to be a port of this Sparkster title. Whatever! Sparky is back on the Sega Genesis here, and we have another game that is immediately evidently unique and different from the previous two. Much of the same gameplay is carried forward (rocketing around, spinning when allowed, firing endless sword beams), but there are a number of innovations across the title. Not all of them are strictly upgrades, though…

Look, your mileage may vary on whether or not you see an improvement here, but Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2 gets pretty close to going full collectathon. Whereas previous Rocket Knight titles locked their best endings behind difficulty levels (old school!), now you are going to have to find a hidden sword in each stage (and never skip the intro level) if you want to see “Golden Sparkster” conquer this latest threat. And, while the powered up yellow possum is highly reminiscent of Super Sonic, this is a much less useful hyper mode, as it is impossible to obtain before the absolute final battle. Couple this with some sprawling stages that require a lot more exploration than previous titles (and, by “exploration”, we mean “it is entirely possible you will get lost going up and down the same stupid pipes in that same stupid airship stage”), and it seems like the directors of Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2 wanted more than another straightforward action game. Unfortunately, when “straightforward action game” is the reason you’re playing the game in the first place…

But this is still a great game! The final boss fight includes one of the greatest gimmicks that has ever existed in an action game (you and the main villain “swap brains”), and, while it may not immediately lend itself to other climaxes, it is surprising and a curious way to play the game. Similarly, the giant robot boss fight of the first Sparkster has now been expanded to a giant robot level, and I cannot be the only person that was begging for such a thing after getting a taste of it in the first title. And, again, this is still a Sparkster game, so even when you are stuck trying to find the right way out of a pyramid, it is fun to play. Sparkster still sparks around… just he might be better suited to his earlier adventures.

Rocket Knight
2010
Xbox 360 / Playstation 3
The Modern Remake

Do not touchAfter a little over fifteen years, Sparkster returned to us via a downloadable title created by Konami fans that were now firmly established on Konami’s payroll. Rocket Knight is a very different animal from its forebears (well, still a possum), as the “charging” system for causing this knight to rocket around has been dramatically altered. The ABC rule of “always be charging” has now been forsaken for something slightly less active, and it does create a slightly more leisurely feel. However, once you get past that change, this is definitely Rocket Knight like you remember it, with enough ricocheting to make a Hanna-Barbera rabbit blush. And new innovations like projectile reflection or drilling add just enough new gameplay variety to make your average wolf/pig encounter more remarkable than in the 16-bit days.

Unfortunately, some of those innovations just make you long for what may have been. Rocket Knight feels like the definition of a 2010 videogame download title (“Xbox Live Arcade Title”). It is amazing! But it is quick! There are basically four worlds here, and a whole quarter of that count is given over to a few stages that are very much glorified tutorials. By the time we are hitting the interesting stuff (like an icy world that freezes your jetpack or a thrilling escape from an exploding factory), we are already practically done. While Rocket Knight seems to be about the same length as its predecessors, it still feels like it ends just when it was getting exciting.

Oh, and there are plenty of giant robots to fight, but not a single one that you get to ride. I could take that giant pig-bot out for a spin, but noooooo…

But one way or another, this is the end of the Rocket Knight franchise. Will we ever see that possum ever again? Maybe! But at least he flew away on a high note that left us wanting more.

Even if we still need a guide to determine which game was which..

FGC #635 Rocket Knight

  • A bit chilly hereSystem: Xbox 360 to start, with Playstation 3 and PC following shortly thereafter. Full disclosure: this whole article was inspired by purchasing an Xbox Series X, and discovering to my delight that Rocket Knight was fully backwards compatible and waiting for me on the new system.
  • Number of players: One of these days that princess is going to have to suit up and be player two. Until then, we are sticking with one rocket knight.
  • Favorite Level: I cannot emphasize enough how the gimmick of the ice level freezing Sparkster’s rocket pack makes for simultaneously new/exciting gameplay and makes perfect, in-plot sense. A miraculous combination of gameplay and setting. Really makes me beg for a universe where this title had a little room to stretch its legs.
  • Favorite Boss: I generally do not like the final boss, as it spends way too much of its existence in something of an invincible/unhittable state. That said, he is a giant, golden pig robot… so I kind of have a hard time getting mad at the guy.
  • Shoot ‘em Up: Rocket Knight returns to the 2-D, horizontal scrolling shoot ‘em up levels of the original adventure. However, it would not be incorrect to state that these levels are much more robust than anything that appeared back in the 90’s, and flying around with this possum leads to some of the best experiences in the game. So what I’m saying is can we finally get a modern Gradius from the same team? Please?
  • Pow powGotta Collect ‘Em All: Rocket Knight now has collectathon elements, as a ranking on each level is based on finding every last gem and doodad throughout the level. A number of these items are “normal”, and would be found easily through traditional level traversal. Unfortunately, there seem to be a couple in every stage that require some dedicated searching or jump-blast coordination, and… Can we not? Can we just have fun zooming around, and not worrying if a 1-Up is hidden in that little alcove over there? This was the worst part of Rocket Knight Adventures 2…
  • Goggle Bob Fact: Like Mega Man 9, this is one of the first titles I bought as “digital only”, and did not simply wait for a physical release like I had for every other title. It seems appropriate that it used to require “modern update on retro franchise” to get me to go outside my comfort zone.
  • Did you know? Rocket Knight was a free “games with gold” title for Xbox in November of 2021, eleven years after its release. So if you were waiting for a “sale” for over a decade, have I got a deal for you! That expired!
  • Would I play again: Probably… albeit in another few years. Even with all the baubles to collect, there isn’t much to this game. It is there, it is fun, and then it ends. I have no great drive to immediately return… but I know it will happen eventually. Thus is the magnetic pull of such an excellent possum.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Conker’s Bad Fur Day for the Nintendo 64! We’re going from the squeaky clean knight to the belligerent squirrel. Please look forward to it!

Zzzzzap

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…