Friday, October 26, 2012

King of the Ring

I wanted to talk about an arcade favorite of mine- WWF WrestleFest. I got into the WWF (now known as WWE - World Wrestling Entertainment) around the early 90's. I spent one night at my uncle and aunt's place. Me and my cousins watched a WWF show on TV. I don't remember the exact year, but I think it was the Royal Rumble. My cousins were already into the WWF at the time, but it was something new to me and I found it very interesting. It had controversy, rivalries, even love stories. It was soap opera for guys. It's sports, it's entertainment...It's sports entertainment.

WWF WrestleFest (developed by Technos) was released in 1991. It's a wrestling game (obviously) that features WWF Superstars around that time. The most prominent wrestlers in the game are Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. I tend to use those 2 most of the time when I play as they seem to be the most well-rounded wrestlers in the game.

The game features 12 WWF Superstars.

Although there are 12 wrestlers featured in the game, only 10 are playable. The tag team- Legion of Doom (also known as the Road Warriors) is in the game, though they aren't available as selectable wrestlers. They do appear in both modes of the game, so the player still gets the chance to face them.

The Legion of Doom is coming for you.

There are 2 modes of play to choose from at the start of the game. The first one is Royal Rumble (Battle Royal). In this mode, the player selects one wrestler and goes up against multiple wrestlers in the ring. There can be 6 wrestlers in the ring at one time. The goal is to eliminate every wrestler until only one is left standing. Wrestlers can be eliminated by being thrown out of the ring, by submission, or by pinfall (3-count). Once other wrestlers are eliminated, others come into the ring to join the mayhem.

2 modes of arcade wrestling goodness

6 wrestlers in the ring at the same time = FUN

Jake "The Snake" Roberts lifting the 460 lb. Earthquake over his head...Impossible!

An inset of the next wrestler coming into the ring appears during the Royal Rumble.

Wrestlers may also be eliminated by pinfall in the Royal Rumble mode.

The other mode is Saturday Nights Main Event (Tag Match). In this mode, the player selects 2 wrestlers to form a tag team. The player goes through a series of tag matches against other teams, the last one being a title match against the Legion of Doom. Although Smash and Crush of the Demolition may be used individually in the Royal Rumble mode, they may only be used together in the Tag Match mode.

The Demolition going up against the team of Sgt. Slaughter and the Ultimate Warrior.

The wrestlers can toss each other out of the ring where the action continues.

Players can team up their favorite wrestlers in the Tag Match mode.

The player can tag their partner in while holding the opponent for a double-team attack.

The Legion of Doom awaits the player in the end of Tag Match mode.

All wrestlers have their signature finishing moves such as Hulk Hogan's leg drop and Jake "The Snake" Roberts' DDT. These moves can only be done when the opponents have low or no energy in their life bar.

It's bedtime when DiBiase puts you in the "Million Dollar Dream"

Whatcha gonna do when Hogan's leg drop runs wild on you!?

The most perfect move in wrestling- Mr. Perfect's "Perfect-Plex"

WWF WrestleFest is one fun game, more so if you're into wrestling. It has an awesome lineup of wrestlers (the addition of the "Macho Man" Randy Savage would've been nice though).  Its simple control scheme adds to its charm as well. The game only utilizes a joystick and 2 buttons, and yet there is a lot of variety in the moves that the player can execute. As far as arcade wrestling games go, WWF WrestleFest is, in my opinion, (to quote Bret Hart) - "the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be".

Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior are the new Tag Team Champions.

That's all for now, and always remember- the game is never over.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The "Dork" Knight

It has been over a month since the new Batman movie (The Dark Knight Rises) came out in theaters. I've been a fan of the Batman movies ever since I saw the 1989 movie - Batman. Its sequel, Batman Returns (1992), was my favorite Batman movie and still kind of is. Anyway, I've mentioned those movies because they are related to the game that I will be talking about in this post. That game is Batman Returns for the Super NES.

The 3 main characters of the movie are all present in the game.
(from top to bottom: Batman, Catwoman, The Penguin)

Batman Returns is a "beat-em-up" that is based on the movie of the same name. The beat-em-up genre was popular during the 80's and 90's, especially in the arcades. These games consist of players going through a number of stages while beating up a group of enemies in hand-to-hand combat, and sometimes with the use of weapons as well (bats, clubs, etc.) . In most games of this type, the player faces a boss at the end of each stage. Gameplay mostly comes down to "button-mashing" (rapidly pressing buttons), which is actually one of the genre's biggest appeal, since it is relatively simple to play and any gamer can easily get into it.

The front of the game box

Batman Returns was released in 1993 and was developed by Konami, one of the top makers of arcade beat-em-ups at the time. The game has similar gameplay to Final Fight (developed by Capcom), which is one of the more popular beat-em-ups back in the early 90's. The player takes control of Batman and goes through 7 stages battling clowns and other freaks from The Penguin's Red Triangle Circus Gang. Batman is able to punch, kick, and throw enemies around. He is also able to use the Batarang to momentarily stun enemies. He may use test tubes as well, which act like bombs that take out every enemy on-screen. The test tubes are limited though, so their usage is only ideal in desperate situations or during tough boss encounters. 

Batman is able to grab 2 enemies at once and bash them into one another...Fun!
Watch out for those clowns with bazookas. They deal out some major damage.
Fat clowns and knife-wielding Indians are some of the enemies in the game.

Batman faces a number of bosses through each stage- all of which are characters from the movie itself. The main antagonists are Catwoman and The Penguin. Both villains  show up multiple times during the game, with The Penguin being the final boss.

This boss shoots out bullets from his organ grinder, just like in the movie.
Catwoman is one tough boss.   
Batman faces The Penguin in the final stage of the game.

The game mixes things up a bit by adding some side-scrolling platforming sections in some stages where Batman uses the Batarang to hit enemies. He also occasionally needs to jump from one platform to another, sometimes with the use of the grapple gun. The 5th stage of the game consists entirely of driving and shooting down enemies with the Batmobile. These little things add some variety to the somewhat repetitive (yet still fun) beat-em-up sections of the game.

One of the platforming sections in the game. 
To the Batmobile...

I've always loved the Batmobile in the Tim Burton movies.

The game makes good use of its movie license by using some of the same music from the movie. The original tracks in the game have a similar feel to the movie's music as well. Most of the stages in the game are based on settings in the movie too. There are also cutscenes before and after each stage which show some images from the movie. All these add up to a well-made movie-based game, something that isn't very common.

A cutscene from the game- This is a job for...Batman.

Some cutscenes are only viewable by finishing the game in the hardest difficulty setting.

Beat-em-ups are some of my most favorite games. I remember playing a lot of them at the arcades back in the day. I'm also somewhat of a "Batdork", so combining 2 things that I like (Batman and beat-em-ups) made me one happy gamer. I consider Batman Returns one of the best beat-em-ups on the Super NES, and it is in my opinion, one of the best Batman games around.

That's all for now, and always remember- the game is never over.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Round 2

In my last post, I talked about the first 3 "Street Fighter II" (SF2) games that were released in the arcades- SF2: The World Warrior (1991), SF2: Champion Edition (1992), and SF2: Hyper Fighting (1993). This time I'll be talking about the 3 remaining arcade games in the SF2 series.

Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers came out during the latter part of 1993. The game featured a new graphics engine, but still had that familiar SF2 look. All characters have multiple color costumes depending on what button is pressed when selected (at least 6 color schemes for each character, as the SF2 series uses a 6-button layout). Another new aspect was the scoring system which kept track of combos, first attacks, etc. However, the faster game speed that was introduced in Hyper Fighting was changed back to the normal speed similar to Champion Edition.

The 12 original World Warriors are back, along with 4 New Challengers

You can still play as any of the 12 characters from the previous games, but this time there are 4 new characters added into the lineup - Cammy (from England), Dee Jay (from Jamaica), Fei Long (from Hong Kong), and T. Hawk (from Mexico). This brings the total number of playable characters to 16.

Cammy is the only other female character (aside from Chun-Li) in the SF2 series

Dee Jay- the Jamaican kickboxer

Fei Long (or Bruce Lee, same thing)

T. Hawk- a giant Native American

The next game in the series came out in 1994- Super Street Fighter II Turbo (SSF2 Turbo). All 16 characters from the previous game were back and the faster game speed was back as well. The obligatory improved graphics, sound, and artwork were present too, making it the best looking SF2 game at the time. The major change for this version was the introduction of the "Super Combo" for each character. There is a "super combo gauge" at the bottom of the screen which fills up as players attack their opponents. Once it is filled, the player is able to perform a "super move" that makes multiple hits and does major damage to the opponent.

The "super combo gauges" are at the bottom left and right of the screen for each character

SSF2 Turbo was also the first Street Fighter game to have a hidden character- Akuma (also known as Gouki in Japan). Players are able to fight him at the end of the game, but only if certain requirements are met (no losses and no continues). There is also a code that enables the player to play as Akuma. He has the same moves as Ryu and Ken, but is stronger and faster. He also has additional moves such as an air fireball and teleportation. He doesn't have a "super combo gauge" but his strength and speed compensate for that. He is one of the most powerful (and cheapest) characters in the SF2 series.

The mysterious Akuma

Akuma is also seen in SSF2 Turbo's flyer

Akuma appears as the final boss when certain requirements are met by the player

Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition came out in the arcades in limited quantities around 2004. I remember going into an arcade, being surprised, and getting excited seeing another version of SF2. I didn't know at the time, but it was originally released as a PlayStation 2 (PS2) game to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Street Fighter series. It uses the same engine as SSF2 Turbo and gives players a choice to play as any version of the SF2 characters from the previous 5 games, as each character has slightly different abilities for each version of the game.

A new SF2 game in 2004...kind of

The "PL-TYPE" lets the player choose which version of the character to use 

The Street Fighter II games are some of the best fighting games ever made. They have inspired other exceptional fighting games such as the Mortal Kombat series and the crossover titles from Capcom and Namco (VS. and X series). Street Fighter's legacy lives on with more recent games such  as the 2008 remake of SSF2 Turbo- Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (that's a mouthful) and the awesome Street Fighter IV.

That's all for now, and always remember- the game is never over.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I thought I'd talk about one of my most favorite games. It's a one-on-one fighting game released in the arcades in 1991. The game I'm talking about is Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (SF2) which was developed by Capcom.

The early 90's was an important period for arcades. SF2 was the most well-known arcade game at the time, and it popularized the fighting game genre. This prompted other developers to make their own fighting games as well. However, none would ever come close to SF2's fighting perfection. 

The game's goal is simple- face each fighter and beat them up. Win 2 out of 3 rounds to advance, then face the next fighter until you get to the final boss. Don't get me wrong though, the game isn't easy. It's quite challenging, but also fun if you know what you're doing. 
Character select screen in SF2
Top row (left to right): Ryu, E. Honda, Blanka, Guile
Bottom row (left to right): Ken, Chun-Li, Zangief, Dhalsim

SF2 games came in a number of different versions. The original (SF2: The World Warrior) gave you a choice to play as 1 of 8 characters, or "World Warriors" as the title implies. Each comes from a different country, and each have their own distinct fighting style. Although 2 of them share the same moves- Ryu (from Japan) and Ken (from the U.S.).

Ryu (left) and Ken (right) were both trained by the same Master

The other 6 playable characters are: Blanka (from Brazil), Chun-Li (from China), Dhalsim (from India), E. Honda (from Japan), Guile (from the U.S.), and Zangief (from Russia). 

Guile is my favorite Street Fighter character

Chun-Li is the only female character in Street Fighter II

Blanka is the only non-human character in the game. As a little boy, he and his mother were on a plane that crash landed into the rain forests of Brazil. He got separated from his mother and was exposed to some form of electricity (from the plane or eels), which mutated him and gave him electrical powers. He was then raised in the wild which eventually changed his appearance as well. It's a silly story, but fighting games aren't about the story anyway.


All 8 characters have their own storyline, but their main goal is to defeat the evil dictator M. Bison from taking over the world (of course!). You face him at the end of the game after you beat the 3 other bosses- Balrog, Vega, and Sagat.

M. Bison- you know he's evil, just look at him

All in all, there are 8 playable characters and 4 non-playable bosses (Balrog, Vega, Sagat, M. Bison) in SF2. This changed in the next version of the game- Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, which came out in 1992. It had slightly improved graphics and alternate color costumes for all characters. The main change for this version is the ability to play as any of the 12 characters, as well as the ability to fight against the same character (i.e.- Ryu vs. Ryu). This isn't a big deal nowadays, but it was an interesting feature back then.

All 12 SF2 characters are playable in Champion Edition

The 4 bosses in the original SF2 are added into the character select screen in Champion Edition

Another version came out in 1993 called Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, also known as "Street Fighter II Turbo". You can still play as any of the 12 characters, and they all have new color costumes again. The main feature of the game however, is that the overall speed of the game has been made faster, which made the game even more exciting and challenging.

Ken vs. Ryu- classic match-up

There were 3 more versions of the game that came out in the arcades (Super Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, and Hyper Street Fighter II). I will probably talk about those games in a future post.

That's all for now, and always remember- the game is never over.